Pork Sisig (Filipino Sizzling Pork)
One of my all-time favorite Filipino dishes, simply grilled pork with onions and peppers. If a Filipino restaurant can make a crazy delicious sisig, they automatically get five stars in my book. Kuya’s Asian Cuisine in San Bruno, CA makes one of my absolute favorite sisig dishes, especially their bangus (milkfish) sisig.
Courtesy of Marvin Gapultos, The Adobo Road Cookbook
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of white Filipino cane vinegar, or distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh calamansi juice, or fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sambal oelek chili paste
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
- 2 1/2 lbs skinless pork jowl, or skinless pork belly, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1-2 Thai chili peppers, sliced
- 2 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced (white and green parts)
- Calamansi halves, or lime wedges, for spritzing
Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi juice (or lemon juice), chili paste, and garlic in a medium bowl. Place the pork into a large resealable food storage bag, and then pour in the marinade and seal the bag. Place the bag in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.
Heat the grill for high-heat, indirect cooking (one side of the grill should be very hot and the other side cool) and brush the grill grates with oil.
Remove the pork from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place the pork slices on the hot part of the grill and cook, turning every few minutes, until the edges are charred and nicely caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Because of the high fat content in the pork, you may have flare-ups on the grill. In this case, just move the pork to the cool side of the grill until the flames subside.
After the pork has browned directly over the heat, move it to the cool side of the grill and cover the grill. This will allow additional fat to render out of the pork without causing flare-ups over the direct heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes more, turning the pork occasionally.
Transfer the pork slices to the cutting board and set aside to cool. When the pork is cool enough to handle, cut it into 1/4-inch cubes. Heat a large heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over high heat. Add the cubed pork, along with the onion and chili pepper, and cook and stir until the onion softens and becomes tender, about 5 minutes.
If needed, pour off fat that has accumulated at the bottom of the pan. Garnish with the green onion and serve the sizzling sisig in the hot skillet with calamansi or limes for spritzing, and with steamed white rice on the side.
When I tasted the marinade, I thought, “Okay, not bad but doesn’t seem like anything special.” Then I tasted one of the pieces of pork after I grilled it, and I said to myself, “It’s good but not what I was expecting or hoping for.” Then I put the whole thing together and spritzed it with calamansi juice. My eyes became huge and I literally said, “OH. MY. GOODNESS.” Now THAT is what I call pork sisig.
Despite it being one of my all-time favorite Filipino dishes, I didn’t really grow up with it. My dad never cooked it and it never looked appetizing as a kid. It wasn’t until college when I fell in love with it. That being said, I’m not completely sure what is generally considered traditional with pork sisig since it has been such a trendy dish with Filipino food trucks and Filipino fusion restaurants in the past couple years. But in the past, I’ve had it mostly with all parts of the pig (jowl, ears, snout, belly, shoulder, butt, liver). As for the vegetables, I’ve eaten it with red, yellow or white onions, serrano pepper or jalapeño, and sometimes with minced garlic. Some places either sauté the vegetables with the pork or simply provide them fresh as a topping to be mixed in.
Although this recipe uses a few unconventional tricks (marinading the pork instead of brining or braising, using sambal oelek chili paste in the marinade, and using Thai chili peppers), this recipe was seriously amazing. The pork perfectly tender and moist, the high fat content adding so much natural flavor, with an excellent blend of heat and acid.
I intended to use pork jowl but I couldn’t find it so I used pork belly instead. Since I used pork belly, it almost felt like I got it from a food truck since pork belly is so trendy these days. I also didn’t buy skinless pork belly, but I was fine with that because I love me some good crispy skin. Lastly, I didn’t garnish it with green onions, mostly because I forgot but also because I didn’t care for them and I normally never have green onions on pork sisig.
Next time, I’ll probably add more peppers and chili paste to turn up the heat for my personal taste. Otherwise, I am honestly blown away. Five stars all the way.