Filipino food is one of the lesser known cuisines from the Far East. It is not that it doesn't cater to popular tastes. It actually does. So people ask why, if Filipino food was actually good, are there not a lot of Filipino restaurants around? I can only surmise that it is because Filipino food takes time to cook. It is not as quick and easy to prepare as other Asian food.
Of late, through the innovation of our compatriots, Filipino food had a share of the limelight. The ambassadors of our cuisine are the food trucks that are plying the streets of America. They have made Filipino food more accessible to the fast food consumers. Adaptations of our popular dishes are expressed in portable forms that are suited to the busy public who just want to grab a quick bite.
For this month's theme, Louie Yan of East and West, our host for the month at the Kulinarya Cooking Club has laid the task for us to express our classic Filipino dishes into more street wise versions.
I have chosen a dish that has reached cult staus of late although it is not actually an old Filipino recipe. Sisig is a popular dish invented in the 70's in Pampanga, the culinary capital of the Philippines. In the Pampanggo dialect, the word sisig means a dish that has a souring ingredient. It was originally eaten as pulutan (dish eaten while drinking beer).
The original sisig includes different cuts of meat which may sometimes include the pig's face and ears. Aside from the souring agent which is usually vinegar and a squeeze of calamansi (citrus) to the finished dish, there are toppings of chopped raw onions and chilli.
I am going to take a detour from the usual peparation method by cutting down on the steps involved. Using the original cuts means having to boil, grill and saute the meat. I am using leaner and more tender pork shoulder meat. This means, I do not need to boil the meat before grilling. The cooked meat is chopped and flash fried with onions and a citrus glaze. Since I'm using skinless meat, I added a sprinkling of chicharon (pork crackling) at the end to give it that necessary rich flavour and crunch. Lamb's ear lettuce and rocket (or any salad leaves) in pitta pockets provide the perfect foil for sisig and makes it possible to eat it on the move. I thinks this version of sisig has more international appeal. I vouch for the tastiness of this dish and I do hope you all try the recipe.
Ingredients for the pork steaks:
500 gms. pork shoulder, cut into 1/2" thick steaks
juice of 1/2 lime
2 tsps. soy sauce
2 tsps. fish sauce
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tsps. sugar
Season the pork steaks with a mixture of the rest of the ingredients. Leave to marinate for at least an hour.
Grill on a grill pan or barbecue for 10-15 minutes. Dice the meat.
To finish the dish, you will need:
2 cloves garlic, chopped
juice of half a lime or lemon or 2 calamansi
1 1/2 tbsps. light soy sauce
2 tbsps. brown sugar
2 tbsps. honey
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 tbsps. butter
To serve, you will also need:
1/2 c. pork crackling, chopped
1 spring onion, cut into rounds
coriander leaves, chopped
1 green chilli chopped
6 fried eggs (optional)
Mix the garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, honey and worcestershire sauce to make a sauce.
Leave 2 tbsps. of the red onion for sprinkling later. Saute the rest in 2 tbsps. butter until soft and translucent.
Increase the heat and add in the grilled pork pieces. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add in the sauce and stir until most of the sauce is absorbed. This is now done.
Sisig is traditionally served on a hot plate with an egg in the middle. Sprinkle the spring onions, coriander leaves, chilli, the remaining chopped onions and the chicharon on top. Fill toasted pitta pockets with salad greens, top with the meat and a fried egg if wished. This will fill 6 pitta pockets.
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