Chicken Tocino! Tender, juicy, and sweet. Everything you love about tocino is here and it almost tastes like pork. Made of chicken thighs cured in an all-natural sweet and fruity marinade. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner served TOCILOG style!
Filipino tocino is traditionally made of cured sweetened pork. Much like longganisa, it is often cooked for breakfast served with garlic fried rice and a fried egg (called TOCILOG). Personally, I can eat at any time of the day!
In this recipe, we will be using chicken thighs. It's a great alternative to pork because of its firm and silken texture. It's also more tender than pork thus can easily absorb any flavor you put into it.
What you need
This recipe is a homemade version of tocino. It uses simple ingredients and does not contain any curing salt or red food coloring.
- CHICKEN - use boneless and skinless chicken thighs. It's the only part of chicken meat I recommend for tocino.
- SUGAR - I recommend using brown for a deeper color and nutty flavor. White sugar can also be used.
- SALT - a natural preservative and also helps balance the sweetness of the sugar. Use sea salt or kosher. Do not use iodized or table salt.
- SOY SAUCE - adds golden color and nice depth of flavor.
- SWEET PAPRIKA - has a sweet pepper flavor and adds reddish color to the chicken.
- CANNED PINEAPPLE JUICE - helps tenderize the meat and adds sweet and fruity flavor.
- GARLIC - optional but helps enhance the overall flavor of the marinade.
- MIRIN - meant to substitute anisette liqueur. But more on this later.
How to make it
Chicken tocino is super easy to make! Prep only takes you 10 minutes. Just remember that you will need to set aside 1 day for the marination i.e. make it one day ahead before you actually need it.
- Start by massaging the chicken thighs with salt and sugar. I recommend doing this by hand to properly season all sides. Use a food-grade plastic glove if preferred. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Next, combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl or in the container where you're planning to marinate the chicken. Stir until well combined.
- Add the chicken to the bowl and massage with the marinade. Cover tightly and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. You can also use a zip bag for compact storing. Double wrap with a regular plastic bag just to make sure it doesn't contaminate other food in your fridge.
The best cooking method for tocino without burning the sugar and undercooking the chicken is gentle frying.
- Start by heating the oil in a frying pan until just warm over medium heat. If the end up being too hot and smoking, turn off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Fry the chicken then set the heat to medium-low. Don't overcrowd the pan. Make sure to cook a few pieces in batches to prevent the pan from becoming watery. Cook both sides gently until caramelized and brown.
- Scoop out any blackened sugar from the pan using a metal spoon after every batch to prevent it from sticking to the uncooked meat.
What to serve with?
Tocino is best served with garlic fried rice and egg. I love having it with a chili-vinegar dipping sauce (sukang sawsawan). Is this just me? Comment below 🙂
What natural color can I use for tocino?
Aside from paprika, annatto powder (from annatto seeds) can be used to add some color to tocino. Use one teaspoon for every 500g of meat.
Note that commercially sold tocino uses red food coloring to make the meat red. You can use that too if preferred.
What is mirin and where can I buy it?
Mirin is a staple ingredient in many Japanese recipes. It's sweet and contains alcohol. I use it often to make teriyaki dishes.
I used mirin in this recipe as a substitute for anisette liqueur which is apparently another key ingredient in making tocino. It serves as an additional seasoning and glazing agent. Full disclosure: I've never tasted or smelled nor seen anisette liqueur before. To know more about it, please follow the link.
Mirin can be found in many Asian stores, the international section of supermarkets, and online.
More must-try recipes with mirin:
- Quick and Easy Korean Beef Bulgogi
- Salmon Teriyaki Fried Rice
- Emergency Korean Bibimbap
- Pork Ribs Adobo Pressure Cooker Recipe
More breakfast recipes for your weekly menu:
- Skinless Longganisa
- Pork Tocino
- Spam Yang Chow Fried Rice
- Pork Fried Rice
- Soft Pandesal
- Chicken Arroz Caldo
- Pandesal Asado
- Bagoong Rice
- Place chicken in a bowl. Add salt and brown sugar. Massage chicken with the seasoning until all sides are covered. Set aside for 5 to 10 mins.
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl or in the container where you’re going to marinate the chicken. Stir until well combined.
- Add the chicken to the bowl and massage with the marinade. Cover tightly and marinate for 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. You can also use a zip bag for compact storage. Double wrap with a regular plastic bag just to make sure it doesn’t contaminate other food in your fridge.
- Place chicken in a frying pan. Pour 1 cup water. You can include the marinade for a sweeter tocino or discard it.
- Boil chicken until tender. Let the water completely evaporate. Reduce the heat then add 1 tablespoon of oil. Gentle fry the tocino for 2 to 4 minutes on each side until brown.
- Serve with rice and egg. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Salt - use sea salt or kosher salt. Do not use iodized or table salt.
- If the pan and oil end up being too hot and smoking, turn off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.'
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. Make sure to cook a few pieces in batches to prevent the pan from becoming watery.
- Annatto powder is a natural food coloring that adds an "orange-ish" color to the chicken. It can be found online and some Filipino stores.
- Mirin is a sweet alcohol-based Japanese condiment commonly use for making teriyaki dishes. It's included in this recipe to substitute anisette liqueur. Mirin is available in many Asian stores, the international section of supermarkets, and online.
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