May 23, 2011

A Taste of His Childhood

My husband was born in the Philippines. He and and his family moved to the States, (Queens, New York to be exact), when he was four. He hasn't held on to many of the traditions or cultural influences from his childhood, except for a few well-loved flavors and dishes... isn't that always the way, though?

His favorite traditional dish, is Filipino BBQ. Every once in a while, as if pulled by a tether, he makes his way to his old neighborhood in Queens and buys enough BBQ to last a few days. This isn't BBQ as us Americans consider it. Instead, this is the global version of  "BBQ," otherwise known as: meat-on-stick. You can find meat-on-stick in every country on the planet, from the tiniest islands, to the most metropolitan cities. The Filipino version is garlicky, sweet, (thanks to 7-Up, it's ALWAYS 7-Up), and well charred. Usually made with a very fatty cut of pork, the meat marinates overnight, is skewered, then grilled over flames. As you can imagine, it's fabulous.

I wanted to try my hand at this at home. Of course, we don't have a patio, a backyard, or any outdoor space to grill on, but I do have a oven that broils! Also, I opted for a leaner meat option; some beautiful beef cutlets that I had picked up from the butcher the day before. I enjoyed it immensely, he missed the "real thing," but admitted this was a good way to tide him over in between runs to Queens. That was the best reaction I could hope for.

If at some point this summer we have access to a real grill, honey, I promised we'll try it again with the classic cut of pork... okay?

Filipino-Style BBQ (at home)
1.5 lbs lean, chicken, pork, or beef cutlets
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup 7-Up
1/3 cup tomato ketchup (if you have access to it, use banana ketchup)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoon white or brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
about 3/4 -1 head of garlic or approx. 3/4-1 cup garlic cloves

-Crush most of the garlic, but thickly slice about 5-6 cloves.
-Combine garlic, soy, 7-Up, ketchup, lemon juice, sugar, pepper, in a container with a tight fitting lid and whisk well.
-Add meat, close container, and shake to coat evenly. Refrigerate overnight but no less than 5 hours.
-The following day, soak skewers in water for approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove the container from the fridge and slice the meat in approximately 1.5 - 2" strips. Weave the strips of meat onto the skewers and place on a tin foil-lined, broiler-safe tray.
-Broil the meat until cooked through and slightly charred. For beef, this will be about 8 minutes. Baste the meat half way through cooking with remaining marinating mixture. Make sure to add some of the sliced garlic to the tray as you broil to add to the serving platter. Serve immediately.


  1. Coincidentally, I just had Philippino food for the first time yesterday at the Jewish/Philippino wedding I officiated! We had "barbequed" chicken skewers and they were delicious. And the banana lumpias are now a favorite for me.

  2. These look divine! I want to try to cook them at home. Wil was born in Olonglapo and came to the US when he was 3! Similar to your husband. Who knew that 7UP was such a magical secret ingredient ;)