Saturday, 6 December 2014

Pork Sisig

I tried new thing today. I found a recipe for sisig on the Goons with Spoons wiki. It immediately captured my attention and I was determined to try it.

The page gives instructions for making "sissy's sisig" with pork loin, but I wanted to, at least for the first time around, make at least somewhat "authentic" sisig. If I wanted to be really authentic about it, I'd need a whole pig's head and a giant pot in which to braise it. I decided that semi-authentic was good enough for me and settled for getting some pig's ears, neck bones, and belly to make it with.

I followed the Goons with Spoons recipe pretty closely, but I'll write out my full procedure below since the recipe page was a little vague on some of the steps.

Pork Sisig
1 lb. pig ears
1 1/2 lb. pork belly
2 1/2 lb. pork neck bones
5 bay leaves
2 tsp. peppercorns
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
4 c. water
2 c. citrus juice (I'm not sure what type I had... some variety of mandarin maybe?)

1/2 c. Mama Sita's Toyo & Kalamansi
3 Tbsp. cane vinegar
sprinkle of black pepper
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 scant Tbsp. ginger paste
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 onion, chopped
3 red Thai chiles, chopped
2 eggs

1. Dump all the pig bits into a big pot. Toss in the bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt. Add the water and the citrus juice.
2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until tender. (I think I cooked mine for about an hour and a half.)
3. Drain the meat (reserving the broth for another use if desired).
4. Once meat is cool enough to handle, remove any bones and chop into very small pieces.

5. Measure out one pound of chopped pork and place it in a bowl. (Freeze the rest of the meat for future sisig.) Add the toyomansi (or a mix of soy and calamansi or lime juice), vinegar, pepper, garlic, and ginger and stir to coat the meat well. Allow to stand for at least 15 minutes.
6. Heat a pan (preferably cast iron) over high heat. Add the peanut oil and coat the bottom of the pan with it.
7. Remove the meat from the bowl with a slotted spoon and add it to the hot pan.
8. Once the meat is seared and has developed some tasty brown bits, add the onion and the chiles to the pan, stir them in, and continue to cook.
9. Add left over marinade to the pan as needed to keep it from getting dry.
10. Once the onion is cooked, crack the eggs into the pan on top of the meat. If you have a cast iron pan, serve at once! Stir in the egg, allowing the residual heat of the meat and pan to cook it.

If you don't have a cast iron pan, you may want to stir in the egg while still on the stove and cook it a little before serving.

This came out amazingly well. So well, in fact, that TF has declared it his new favourite pork dish! That's right, given the choice between a plate of bacon and a plate of sisig... he'd take the sisig! I'm pretty pleased that he liked it so much.

I also thought it was delicious. The flavour was excellent. The cartilage from the ears was still quite noticeable though. The texture of the cartilage wasn't necessarily bad, but I do think I would've preferred it without that aspect.

I almost passed on the neck bones for this. They weren't specifically mentioned in any of the recipes I looked at. However, they did fit the <$2/lb. criteria mentioned on the Goons with Spoons wiki (at $0.99/lb.) and I figured neck bones would be reasonable in a dish meant to be made from a pig's head. I'm so glad I didn't pass them up! The meat came out incredibly tender and luscious, almost like a pork-y version of oxtail. Next time I might consider making this with neck meat alone! It was more tender and less fatty than the belly and more meaty and less cartilaginous than the ears.

TF is in favour of trying a sisig variant using a 1:1:1 ratio of neck, belly, and liver at some point. I'm down with that, but I'd also like to try a neck only version sometime. I just can't get over how lovely that neck meat was when I was picking the bones! If you've never had pork neck before, you should definitely consider giving it a try!

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