fbpx

hello@pepper.ph

Pepper’s Best Crispy Pata Recipe: A Guide to Trigger-Worthy Pata

Talia Cortez (@taliacor)

Meya Cortez (@meyarrr),
Jerome Jocson (@emowredge)

Dan Aragon (@danaragonows)

Jica Simpas (@jicasimpas)

Annika Hernandez (@anneequa_)

Pepper's Best Crispy Pata

Crispy pata looks deceivingly simple; it’s just deep-fried pork hock. Technically, that’s true. But there’s a lot of work that gets you to a perfect crispy pata—one that has tender, flavorful meat and crispy, airy skin. This recipe promises those two key characteristics, achieved through a method that even amateur cooks can do at home without any fancy ingredients or tools.

Pepper's Best Crispy Pata

The driving thought behind this recipe is that the crispy pata should be able to stand on its own. It had to be flavorful without being flavored, so the goal was to make it salty enough to be picked at as pulutan, while at the same time being a good partner to the usual sauces. Texture-wise, the meat had to be very tender, whereas the skin had to live up to the dish’s name: crispy. And not just that, it had to actually stay crispy.

The Crispy Pata Ingredients

Pata

There are no fancy ingredients needed to make this recipe. Apart from the two-kilogram pata, everything you need (which is only six other ingredients) is most likely already in your pantry. You’ll need a large amount of salt to brine the pata; plus, some aromatics—onions, garlic, bay leaves, and whole black peppercorns—to further get some flavor into the meat. Later on, you’ll need some good old Filipino-brand soy sauce for color and to add a little bit more saltiness. (And of course, lots of oil for frying.)

The Crispy Pata Process

What made all the difference in this testing is the process. This crispy pata recipe doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it does eat up a lot of time—from the overnight brining to the boiling of the pata to the overnight drying to the final 30-minute frying. It takes around two days until you get the final product, but all these steps are essential to getting our definition of the best crispy pata.

Brining

Brined Patas
Wet brine vs. dry brine

Since we wanted to keep the integrity of the pork in our crispy pata, marinating the meat wasn’t an option from the get-go. So the question was whether to start with a plain pata or a brined one and in the case of the latter, whether to do a wet brine or a dry brine. Brining is the process of submerging meat in a solution of water and salt (wet brine) or covering meat with salt (dry brine).

Wet Brine
A wet brine is made by dissolving salt in water.
Wet Brine Dissolving Salt

Pata in Wet Brine
Pata in wet brine.

Dry Brine Pata
A dry brine involves rubbing the piece of meat in salt.

Over-all, brining the pata won (over just using a plain pata) because the step helped keep the meat tender even after multiple stints in the fridge and through a long frying time, and it was an effective way of getting flavor through to the meat. That said, dry brining worked better than wet brining because the latter waterlogged the skin. Because the salt was introduced to the meat through water, it slightly diluted the flavor. Plus, the water entered the skin, which later on hindered it from becoming its crispiest.

Dry Brined Patas
We tested four brined patas.

Dry Brine Overnight
Leaving the brined patas in the fridge overnight helps it absorb the flavor from the salt.

Dry Brined Patas Dried
The dry brined patas the following day.
Dry Brined Pata Solo

Dry Brined Pata Closeup
A closeup of the dry brined pata.

On the other hand, dry brining gets you all the saltiness while retaining the porkiness of the meat. It also helps pull moisture out from the skin, making it even crispier and easier to handle while frying. Just covering the pata in salt also saves more space in the fridge for when you leave it overnight versus having to put it in a giant container filled with a salt solution. We leave the patas overnight in the brine to make sure it takes all the salt it can get.

Boiling

Pata in Boiling Water

Boiling the pata is an essential step because it’s here that your meat is tenderized. After your pata dries out in the fridge overnight, brush off the excess salt (trust us, it’s gotten enough by this point), then throw it into a pot with boiling water, red onions, garlic, bay leaves, and whole black peppercorns. Technically, you can boil the pata in plain water. However, we found the addition of aromatics in the liquid introduced even more flavor to the pork. Plus, it removed any impurities in the meat.

Aromatics
Boiling Pata
Boiled Patas

Boiling the pata for an hour to an hour and a half gets it to fork-tender. So while the meat becomes soft, it still has a little bit of a bite. That said, if you’d like to get it fall-off-the-bone tender, you can boil it for even longer. It will fall apart as you take it out of the liquid so make sure you have something wide to scoop it out with (aside from your tongs).

Pricking & Rubbing

Patting Pata Dry
Pat the pata dry after boiling!

Pricking Skin
You can prick the pata with a fork or with a bunch of toothpicks.

Some people prick the skin of the pata prior to frying; others don’t. Either way, you’re going to get crispy skin. But by poking into the skin of the pata, you’re creating little divots on the surface that allow the oil to go in and out while frying, making tiny craggy bits. This results in an over-all crispier and airier exterior.

Brushing Pata in Soy Sauce
Soy Sauce Rub

Most recipes add soy sauce to the boiling liquid. But ours adds it to the pata itself after boiling and poking the skin. This step makes for a browner (ergo, better-looking) and more flavorful pata.

Drying

The best thing to do when frying is to make sure whatever you’re frying is dry. Since the two previous steps introduced moisture into the pata, it was important to take an extra measure to dry it out again before frying. During our tests, we fried two patas on the same day after patting them dry and leaving them out in front of a fan after a couple of hours.

No Soy Sauce Pata Same Day Fry
We fried one pata without the soy sauce rub on the same day.
No Soy Sauce Pata Same Day Fry Out of Oil
No Soy Sauce Pata Same Day Fry Crispy Pata

Soy Sauce Brushed Pata Same Day Fry
We also fried a pata brushed with soy sauce on the same day.
Soy Sauce Brushed Pata Same Day Fry Crispy Pata

These were harder to get crispy since they were still a little bit water-logged. We even left them to fry longer to achieve the level of crispiness we wanted. But that essentially left us with dry meat in both patas. These patas were also so much harder to fry since the leftover moisture caused the hot oil to splatter like crazy.

Same Day Fried Patas
Both patas fried on the same day didn’t get as crispy as we hoped and took too long to fry.
Same Day Fried Patas Spoon Test

We found that leaving the patas in the fridge overnight once more was the most effective way to dry out the patas. The time and cold air drew out the most moisture, making it easier to handle in the hot oil and resulting in an over-all crispier pata (that took faster to fry).

Patas Re-Refrigerated After Boiling
Drying out the patas in the fridge after boiling is the way to go.

Frying

In the hopes of finding an alternative to deep-frying (since it can get dangerous), we tried baking the pata.

Pata Baking in the Oven
Will baking the pata work?

Baked Crispy Pata
Not crispy the way we wanted it to be.

It did become crispy, but not in the way one wants their pata to be crispy. It wasn’t snappy, and it was a tad hard. That’s not necessarily bad, but it was a noticeably different experience.

Re-Refrigerated Pata Brushed in Soy Sauce To Fry
Deep-frying the pata still gave the best results.
Re-Refrigerated Pata Brushed in Soy Sauce Frying
Re-Refrigerated Pata Brushed in Soy Sauce Crispy Pata

Baked Pata vs Fried Pata
Baked pata (top) vs. fried pata (bottom)

On the other hand, frying the pata yielded a much more enjoyable product. The skin was light, airy, and snappy, kind of like a well-roasted lechon.

Pepper’s Best Crispy Pata

Pepper's Best Crispy Pata Spoon Test
The winner: dry brined, boiled in aromatics, pricked, rubbed in soy sauce, re-refrigerated, deep-fried crispy pata.

Time is really what makes this our best crispy pata recipe; it’s what gives the pata its flavor and texture. Start by rubbing salt all over the hock, then leave it in the fridge overnight to absorb all that saltiness. The following day, brush off the excess salt, then boil it to fork-tender in a liquid with red onions, garlic, bay leaves, and whole black peppercorns. Once the meat is soft, remove it, prick it all over, then rub it with soy sauce. Leave it in the fridge once again to dry out before deep-frying it the following day.

Crispy Pata Meat Close-up

The result is a crispy pata with tender, flavorful meat on the inside and airy, slightly craggy, crispy skin on the outside. Again, it’s flavorful, not flavored; so it retains its porkiness but is salty enough to be eaten on its own. We recommend pairing it with your choice of crispy pata sauce. Lechon sauce, spicy vinegar, or soy sauce mixed with vinegar, onions, and chili—all of them work with this one.

Crispy Pata Sauce

Crispy Pata Recipe

Difficulty

Hard

Serving Size

4-6 people

Active Time

2 hrs

Total Time

2 hrs + 2 days

Instructions for Pepper’s Best Crispy Pata

  1. Take raw pata and cover in a generous amount of salt.
  2. Place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and place in the fridge overnight.
  3. The next day, prepare a large pot of water with the red onions, garlic, and bay leaves.
  4. Remove the pata from the fridge and brush off any excess salt, then place in the boiling water.
  5. Boil the pata until fork tender but not falling apart, about 1-1.5 hours.
  6. Remove from water and pat completely dry, set on a wire rack over a baking sheet.
  7. When cool enough to handle, use a fork or multiple toothpicks to poke multiple holes into the skin.
  8. Rub the pata with soy sauce then let cool completely.
  9. Set the pata in the fridge overnight to allow the skin to dry out completely.
  10. The following day, prepare a tall pot with enough oil to go about halfway up the pata.
  11. Heat the oil to 370F.
  12. Remove the pata from the fridge while the oil is heating.
  13. Once the oil reaches the correct temperature, slowly and carefully lower the pata into the hot oil using tongs.
  14. Immediately take the lid of the pot and set over the pot to protect yourself from splattering, but do not close the lid completely to allow steam to escape.
  15. Fry the pata until completely crispy and golden all around, about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  16. Remove the pata from the oil and set on a cooling rack to cool before serving.
  17. Serve with desired sauce and sides.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More ↓