After making a large quantity of tocino in my previous post, I could’ve easily portioned out what I had on hand and kept the surplus in the freezer, but a friend was having a barbecue and sharing it was a much better plan. I started thinking of other ways to serve tocino since I wasn’t going to make my friends breakfast, and sliders were the first thing that came to mind.
When I Googled “tocino sliders,” I discovered that they were on the menu at Purple Yam, Chef Romy Dotoran and Amy Besa’s new restaurant in Brooklyn. Besa has said that Purple Yam’s tocino sliders, served with pickled persimmons on mini housemade purple yam pandesals, were inspired by Vietnamese bánh mì, which is simply grilled meat, pickled veggies, and fresh bread. This idea is fairly common—Momofuku Pork Belly Buns and Korean BBQ Tacos, and brats with sauerkraut also come to mind. My friend Steph (a.k.a. urbanfoodie), recently visited Purple Yam and said she liked their tocino sliders.
Although the tocino slider is a fusion concept, I wanted to keep the components as Filipino as possible. I love that Purple Yam uses mini pandesal for the bun, so I picked some up at the market instead of using the more obvious King’s Hawaiian Rolls. For the pickled vegetables, it was only natural that I make atsara (a.k.a. achara or pickled green papaya) to dress the sliders. The funny thing is, I had never eaten atsara in my life. In fact, I always hated pickles when I was a kid, but as an adult, I’ve grown to love other pickled vegetables. (Sauerkraut ended up being my gateway pickled vegetable.)
I knew I could’ve bought some atsara at the store, but I wanted to make it from scratch (recipe below). Luckily, Marvin at Burnt Lumpia has a great atsara recipe, and I would’ve followed it to a T if I didn’t buy the wrong papaya at the market. Atsara calls specifically for green papaya, and in my haste, I bought a couple ripe Hawaiian papayas that were ill suited for atsara. I didn’t realize this till around midnight, and the Asian supermarkets aren’t open that late, so I picked up some unripe green mangoes to substitute. I’m not sure if mango atsara is an actual “thing” in the Philippines, but it ended up being a great substitute. I’ll definitely use green papaya next time I make atsara.
Since I had access to my friend’s grill, I grilled the tocino instead of pan frying it, and I think grilling is definitely the way to go. It will still be good pan fried, but if you can, grill them. I gave them a good sear for a couple minutes on each side and then finished them off on a cooler part of the grill.
Assembling the sliders is easy. Cut the pandesal in half so they look like buns and then toast them to your preference. Put a slice or two of tocino on the bottom half of the bread and then top with the atsara.
Atsarang Mangga (pickled mangoes)
(adapted from Burnt Lumpia.)
2 cups cane vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 unripe mangoes (about 1½–2 lbs.), peeled, seeded, and julienned
2 small carrots, peeled and julienned
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, ginger, and garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring to ensure sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from heat and allow mixture to come to room temperature.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then drop the julienned mangoes into the pot for 1 minute. Remove mangoes from the boiling water and place them into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain the mangoes and place in cheesecloth or paper towels, squeeze to remove any excess water.
- In a large bowl, combine the mangoes, carrots, and onion. Pour the room temperature vinegar mixture over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight.