Sincere thanks to my friend Patty DLS for this truly excellent recipe. When I travelled to the Philippines regularly in the middle 80s (I was tendering for a Philippine Board of Tourism documentary on the back of the success of the film The Comeback), I would always eat this dish somewhere, and it is one of the traditional dishes of this beautiful country. It is (at least in my experience) an unique flavour, combining soy, vinegar, and sugar to produce an extraordinary taste. Best of all, it is a simple cooking process. Here’s the recipe, pretty much as Patty sent it to me, with a couple of modifications. My notes in square brackets.

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons olive oil [coconut may be substituted]
1 large red Spanish onion, peeled and sliced thinly [Kit: I use two]
1 head garlic, peeled and cut into sticks
500gms lean pork belly strips, cut into 3 cm pieces
6 chicken thigh cutlets (with bone), skin removed if desired [Kit: I leave the skin on]
1 ½ cups brown malt vinegar
½ cup soy sauce
Water to cover the meat…will elaborate below. [Kit: I have not needed to use any water]
2 bay leaves (fresh is better – crushed with your hands to release oils)
3 tablespoons brown sugar {Kit: Patty recommended raw sugar, but I feel brown sugar adds a little something]
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
[Kit: I sometimes add 1 tsp. umami; this is Ajinomoto; MSG to everyone else. Optional, but gives it even more of a lift, if you are OK with it; umami can replace salt in a recipe, too]

EQUIPMENT

Patty wrote: “It is advisable to use enamel–coated casserole pot (such as La Creuset) as steel pots may possibly have a chemical reaction with the vinegar. (Maybe an old wives’ tale)”. I have used stainless steel without any problems as well as a ceramic casserole and noticed no taste difference and no discolouration of the steel pot.

COOKING

– Heat the oil in the casserole pot on high heat, add the chopped onion and sauté until transparent; [Kit: I like a little caramelisation, so cook the onion longer]
– Add the pork and sauté till browned. Add the garlic, bay leaves and the chicken cutlets and continue to sauté until browned. Remove the chicken cutlets and set aside to add later
– Pour the vinegar and soy sauce over the pork, add the sugar and peppercorns and stir well until sugar has dissolved. [KIT: I do this in a separate bowl to make sure the sugar is dissolved completely before adding]
– Add water to cover the meat to allow stewing and remaining moist. Reduce heat to medium after it starts to boil. [Kit: I have not needed to add water, but do cook in a coverd pot, and stirring from time to time. This way little water is cooked off, and the sauce/broth is the richer for it]
– Simmer covered for 1 hour. This is a good time to taste – you are free to add more vinegar or water if you wish. I enjoy it when the vinegar flavour gives a wonderful “burn” sensation on the throat. [Kit: if you don’t add water, this should be perfect; it is to my taste, anyway!]
– Add the chicken and continue to simmer for another ½ hour or until cooked and the meat is just about to fall from the bone. [Kit: I have fond 45′ is perfect for the large chicken legs we get here]
– Serve hot with rice and whatever wine you like. ENJOY!!!! [Kit: that final injunction will not be necessary!]. This dish traditionally can be 100% pork, 100% chicken, or the mix suggested here. I have tried all three; the 50/50 mix of chicken and pork works marvellously well on many levels.