Sunday, June 28, 2009
Sisig (using Pork Face, of course!)
Sisig is hard to come by nowadays for the likes of me, transplanted from my beloved Philippines to this rural country.
Good thing, being a rural place that this states is, one time I had a pig's head which my in-laws did not like (they had their pig slaughtered and knew I wanted what they did not, so I got some pork goodies).
What else is there to do with a pig's head than to turn it to a Filipino classic ppulutan dish called sisig?
Of course, I turned to the internet to look for recipes (those of Market Manila and burntlumpia, in particular), and tweaked the method to suit what I have at home -- boiling then oven-roasting instead of deep-frying, before chopping. This takes about 2 days for me at least (boiling and drying separately from roasting and cooking the sisig per se).
Too bad that recently, somehow it seems that there is now a law prohibiting the slaughterhouses to reserve the head and the innards to give to the owners per request. During my first year here I was able to get the pork and beef intestines, and the pork head, but now I can't. I don't know if I can request from a grocery store, but then I do not trust meat from unknown sources (and I mean meat from pork/beef/chicken that we did not raise ourselves. If you are aware of the practices in animal farming here in the US, you would understand why). So this is a fond memory for me, having cooked sisig at least once in my lifetime, served during a Christmas gathering with my Pinay friends. It was literally heart-wrenching (after eating just a bit, we knew we had loads of fat from this dish), but was transported back to the Philippines for a while.
pork head, boiled, deboned, chopped
water enough to cover
10 or so peppercorns
2 bay leaves
salt (approximate depending on amount of water)
1 head garlic
spray of olive oil
sprinkles of garlic salt
SISIG PROPER (for about 3 cups of chopped pork face/ears)
1 big onion, chopped
3 chopped green chilies (amount depends on how hot you want it)
freshly milled black pepper
sliced green chilies
Boil the head in a big pot for about 30 minutes. Let drain. Dry out further by placing in the fridge atop a wire rack on a baking pan uncovered at least overnight (but do not overdo by drying more than 1 day).
When ready to roast, heat up the oven with the rack placed at the very bottom. Set to 450 deg F.
Take out the pig's head. You are going to use the whole ensemble. Brush or spray the pig's head with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Roast for 15 minutes then lower the heat to 350 deg F. Bake for 1 hour.
Separate meat/fat/skin from the bones. Chop, chop, chop.
At this point, you may want to freeze some for later use. You will not be able to consume the whole thing unless you have a whole barangay of Pinoys who would gladly have their share of this artery-constricting concoction.
Prepare the other ingredients. Heat up your cast-iron griddle (the wider the better) on high for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to 6 or even 4 so as not to burn and place the chopped pork face. Stir, stir, stir until it renders it own fat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Stir some more until it becomes fried in its own fat so it get a little crispy.
Drain the excess fat. Drizzle with vinegar and lemon juice. Adjust taste accordingly by adding salt and pepper. Top with chicharon and some more sliced chilies.