Hot on the heels of the highly satisfying tapcitlog (tapa, pancit at itlog) comes tocitlog, our all-day breakfast dish with noodles tossed in sweet-sour achara brine topped with minced tocino, achara and scallions, and served with hard-boiled eggs on the side.
Tocino is cured meat, a cross between sweet ham and bacon
If you’re not a Filipino, a short background on tocino should be helpful.
Tocino is cured meat. Pork is traditional but, today, chicken and vegan versions are becoming popular. Tocino is sweet, delicately chewy and red (food color — annatto extract, if you prefer all-natural — is added to give it a more sweet ham-like appearance).
Tocino is a popular breakfast dish served with rice and, in most Filipino homes, a salad made with tomatoes and salted egg. Over the last few decades, the fast food version, tocilog (tocino, sinangag at itlog), a rice-egg-tocino meal, became ubiquitous.
Tocino is so popular that Hormel came up with a limited edition SPAM tocino a few years ago (we didn’t like it though).
As with any delicacy, there are various grades of tocino. The cheaper kinds commonly found in local wet markets contain too much water. You’d think they’re a lot cheaper but once in the frying pan, you will realize how little meat there is in the package that you bought.
If you buy your tocino from the supermarket, choose the tocino with clear packaging so you can see how much fat there is. There are brands that contain about 50% pork fat. Unless you eat pork fat, that’s half of your tocino down the garbage bag.
What is achara?
Achara is pickled green papaya.
Achara and tocino? Isn’t that sweet on sweet? Not if your achara is more tart than sweet. If store-bought achara doesn’t have the proper balance of flavors, it is easy enough to do a home version. Just play around with the vinegar-sugar ratio.
About the eggs
Prefer runny yolks? You may always poach the eggs. If that’s too much work, then opt for soft-boiled instead of hard-boiled eggs. Not a wiz at boiling eggs? Check these out:
And just what noodles are best for tocitlog?
We used egg noodles — the kind you’d use to make mami, for instance (that’s the link to the pork version by the way; if you prefer chicken mami, click here). You can try udon, ramen or thick rice noodles too.
Tocitlog (Tocino, Pancit at Itlog) with Achara
- cooking oil
- 500 grams tocino
- egg noodles for three people (see notes after the recipe)
- 3/4 cup achara (store bought or homemade)
- 3 eggs (hard-boiled or soft-boiled), shelled and halved
- thinly sliced scallions
- In a frying pan, heat enough cooking to reach a depth of ¼ inch.
- Mince the tocino and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar in the marinade has caramelized (the meat will be fully done at that point).
- While the tocino cooks, drain the achara. Save the liquid.
- Drizzle the achara liquid over the noodles and toss well.
- Divide the cooked noodles among four shallow bowls.
- Divide the cooked tocino into three portions and spread over the noodles.
- Top the tocino with achara and scallions.
- Arrange egg halves on the side of each bowl before serving your tocitlog.
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