Sisig is a Filipino dish made from parts of pig head and liver, usually seasoned with calamansi and chili peppers

Sisig is a Filipino dish made from parts of pig head and liver, usually seasoned with calamansi and chili peppers. Sisig was first mentioned in a Kapampangan dictionary in the 17th Century meaning “to snack on something sour” and “salad”. It usually refers to fruits, often unripe or half-ripe, sometimes dipped in salt and vinegar. It also refers to a method of preparing fish and meat, especially pork, which is marinated in a sour liquid such as lemon juice or vinegar, then seasoned with salt, pepper and other spices. The earliest believed record of the word sisig can be traced back to 1732, and was recorded by Augustinian friar Diego Bergaño in his Vocabulary of the Kapampangan Language in Spanish and Dictionary of the Spanish Language in Kapampangan. Bergaño defines sisig as a “salad, including green papaya, or green guava eaten with a dressing of salt, pepper, garlic and vinegar.” There is no mention of how long this cooking style has existed prior to the coming of the Spaniards during the Age of Conquest. The introduction of meat into the dish does not have an exact date as well.

A sisig variation in Malolos using mushroom as the main ingredient, served with fried rice and egg. Locals believe that the addition of a pig’s head and innards in the dish came from “recycling” the excess meat from the commissaries of Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga. Pig heads were purchased cheap since they were not used in preparing meals for the U.S. Air Force personnel stationed there during the American Occupation of Luzon and Visayas. Sisig still has many variations with recipes varying from city to city, and sometimes, family to family, in the Kapampangan province. Lucia Cunanan of Angeles City, also known as “Aling Lucing,” has been credited with reinventing sisig by using a sizzling plate to make the dish crispier. The Philippine Department of Tourism has acknowledged that her “Aling Lucing’s” restaurant had established Angeles City as the “Sisig Capital of the Philippines” in 1974. Cunanan’s trademark sisig was developed in mid-1974 when she served a concoction of boiled and chopped pig ears and cheeks seasoned with vinegar, calamansi juice, chopped onions and chicken liver and served in hot plates. Today, varieties include sisig ala pizzailo, pork combination, green mussels or tahong, mixed seafood, ostrich sisig, crocodile sisig, spicy python, frog sisig and tokwa’t baboy, among others. According to Cunanan’s recipe, preparing sisig comes in three phases: boiling, broiling and finally grilling. Here are the ingredients on how to cook sisig. 1 lb. pig ears. 1 1/2 lb pork belly. 1 piece onion minced. 3 tablespoons soy sauce. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. 1 knob ginger minced (optional). 3 tablespoons chili flakes. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. 1 piece lemon or 3 to 5 pieces calamansi. ½ cup butter or margarine. ¼ lb chicken liver. 6 cups water. 3 tablespoons mayonnaise. 1/2 teaspoon salt. 1 piece egg (optional). A pig’s head is first boiled to remove hairs and to tenderize it. Portions of it are then chopped and grilled or broiled. Finally, coarsely chopped onions are added and served on a sizzling plate. Variations of sisig may add any of the following: eggs, ox brains, chicharon (pork cracklings), pork or chicken liver, and mayonnaise. Recently, local chefs have experimented with ingredients other than pork such as chicken, squid, tuna, and tofu. The annual “Sisig Festival” (Sadsaran Qng Angeles) is held every year during December in Angeles City, Pampanga, celebrating the Kapampangan dish. It started in 2003 and was made an annual festival by Mayor Carmelo Lazatin on December 2004 to promote the city’s culinary prowess. The festival also features a contest where chefs compete in making dishes, primarily sisig. Congo Grille, a restaurant chain in the country, was a winner in 2006. In 2008, the festival was put on hiatus following Aling Lucing’s death. Marquee Mall then incorporated the festival in 2014 by including it within their annual Big Bite! Northern Food Festival held every October or November. The Angeles City Tourism Office organized a festival on April 29, 2017.

The revival of the festival was in line with the Philippine Department of Tourism’s Flavors of the Philippines campaign. Now called “Sisig Fiesta,” the festivities were held at Valdes Street, Angeles City (also known as “Crossing” since it was a former railroad track), where Aling Lucing reinvented the dish. The newly-revived Sisig Fiesta was a one-day event that will line up a Sisig sampler banquet, Sisig, and BBQ stalls, cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs, and showcase Angeleño culinary talent through competitions. The event will also include live bands, dancing, and a night market. Here is the instructions on how to cook sisig. 1st step. Pour the water in a pan and bring to a boil Add salt and pepper. 2nd step. Put-in the pig’s ears and pork belly then simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour (or until tender). 3rd step. Remove the boiled ingredients from the pot then drain excess water. 4th step. Grill the boiled pig ears and pork belly until done. 5th step. Chop the pig ears and pork belly into fine pieces. 6th step. In a wide pan, melt the butter or margarine. Add the onions. Cook until onions are soft. 7th step. Put-in the ginger and cook for 2 minutes. 8th step. Add the chicken liver. Crush the chicken liver while cooking it in the pan. 9th step. Add the chopped pig ears and pork belly. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes. 10th step. Put-in the soy sauce, garlic powder, and chili. Mix well. 11th step. Add salt and pepper to taste. 12th step. Put-in the mayonnaise and mix with the other ingredients. 13th step. Transfer to a serving plate. Top with chopped green onions and raw egg. 14th step. Serve hot. Share and Enjoy (add the lemon or calamansi before eating).

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