Eat's my life
ACCORDING to Wikipedia, “sisig” is a Kapampangan term which means “to snack on something sour.” For more Pinoys, however, sisig, especially the sizzling version, is one of the best dishes to pair with a beer or two, or more.
To my knowledge, the dish came about because of our desire not to waste any part of a slaughtered animal, particularly pigs. Anyway, the recipe for sisig calls for meat coming from a pig’s head, including the ears. The pig’s liver is also used, although some cooks (me included) use chicken liver, as this is tastier than pigs’ livers. The pig’s head is boiled, then scorched using an acetylene blowtorch, to burn off excess hairs. After this step, the meat is chopped finely, seasoned with vinegar, then pan-fried with onions and chili peppers. It is then served with a piece of calamansi to further season the dish, if one so desires. Aling Lucing of Angeles City, Pampanga, is credited with inventing this particular dish, and since the ‘70s, sisig has become the favorite beer match of most Filipinos.
While I have tasted Aling Lucing’s version, I recently tasted perhaps the best version of sisig, ever, during Bluewater Maribago’s Northern Exposure food festival series, held over several weekends. Last weekend featured the renowned Chef Sau de Rosario, and I was very happy not to have missed the spectacular lunch he, Chef Alan Mathay, and the Maribago crew prepared for the media.
There were several items that I was eager to taste, one of which was camaru, which is not a car, but I think is what Kapampangans call grasshoppers or locusts. It was wrapped in a lumpia wrapper, and while it tasted pretty much okay, the carapace of the grasshopper is kind of hard to chew, breaking up into little shards. If you’re not used to eating exotic food, you might have a hard time enjoying this.
The most spectacular dish that day was the simplest one of all, Chef Sau’s sisig. Yes, he made it more or less the traditional way, using traditional ingredients. The only non-traditional ingredient Chef Sau used was foie gras. Yep, you read it right.
Expensive goose liver in one of the Philippines’ best loved dishes? That’s right.
Credit it to Chef Sau’s training in Nice, France, but credit it too, to Chef Sau’s love of Pampango food, which he is definitely proud of, Pampango cuisine being one of the most flavorful cuisines in the Philippines.
But back to the sisig. Yep, it tastes like sisig as we know it, but the addition of foie gras made it so much better. The pork still retained most of the crunchiness, but the goose liver’s buttery texture enhanced the taste, and heightened one’s appreciation of such a simple dish.
It was so good that I ignored the Lamb Chops Caldereta and the Fern, Watermelon and Prawn Salad. All the lunch needed was a case of San Miguel Light, and I would have stayed the whole afternoon trading stories with Chef Sau.