The Happy Home Cook: Pork Kilawin

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Pork Kilawin (Photo by Elizabeth Ann Quirino)

Pork Kilawin (Photo by Elizabeth Ann Quirino)

The original Ilocano Kilawen or Dinakdakan contains pork that is raw then boiled and sits in the mixture of vinegar, salt, seasonings and chilies till the meat “cooks” in the acidity, similar to the Spanish ceviche with seafood. The use of liver and innards in the dish is characteristic of the Ilocano frugal ways of not letting anything go to waste.

In contrast, here in my American kitchen, my version of pork kilawin is different because I sautéed the meat thoroughly. I did not have the rich, dark Ilocano vinegar found in Ilocos which has a nearly balsamic texture. Instead I used cider vinegar, organic garlic and onions which when put together in the saucepan emitted a garlicky, tangy aroma around the house that did not go unnoticed by my family. And typical of all dishes cooked in garlic and vinegar, this pork kilawin tasted better even days after, especially served on a bed of steamed white jasmine rice. This is an Asian in America recipe. Serves 2 to 4.


  • pork shoulder - 1 pound, cut in 2-inch cubes

  • garlic - 1 whole head, peeled, crushed

  • onion - 1 large, sliced

  • fresh ginger - 1/2 teaspoon, minced

  • pork liver - 1/4 pound, sliced in 2-inch strips

  • cider vinegar - 3/4 cup

  • organic broth (chicken or beef) - 1/2 cup

  • black peppercorns - 1 Tablespoon

  • sea salt - 1 teaspoon

  • freshly ground black pepper powder - 1 teaspoon

  • rice - for serving


  • In a large skillet, over medium high heat, place the pork shoulder cubes. After 3 to 5 minutes, render the fat coming from the pork. The meat pieces will turn brown and the fat from the pork will be apparent in the skillet.

  • In the same skillet, move the pork cubes to the side and sauté the garlic, onions and ginger for 1 to 2 minutes in the oil from the pork fat. Add the pork liver cut in strips. Continue cooking till meat is thoroughly cooked in about 10 minutes.

  • To the pork mixture in the skillet, add the vinegar and broth. Season with black peppercorns, salt and black pepper powder. Cover and continue cooking for 10 minutes more so that vinegar flavor blends well.

  • Serve warm with rice.

Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey is a journalist and author of the “How to Cook Philippine Desserts: Cakes and Snacks” Cookbook. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and blogs about Filipino home cooking on her site

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