Pampanga is unofficially our country’s culinary capital, and our dad (our recipe developer and I are sisters) hails from there. People raised there are often expected to know how to cook, have great palates, and boast about their food as being the best among our islands. My dad fits that stereotype exactly, busting out his cooking skills and knowledge only on special occasions, so that his dishes are always sought after at our dinner table. In his family, he was tasked with helping his mom in their kitchen, which was often. She hosted their neighborhood’s mahjong nights, and needed to churn out dishes to keep her locals coming back to her table. She had to have the best morcon, or the tastiest bringhe; it was here where our dad learned to put guava instead of tamarind as a souring agent in sinigang, make homemade aligue from the tiniest crabs, and make this particular sisig from scratch.
He will always insist that the “correct” sisig is done this way—boiled parts of pig face are grilled for color, then chopped together, still slightly chunky, then tossed in the brightest, but simplest of vinaigrettes. The sizzling plate version as we know it is just a riff, he says, and not how the inventors of the dish would eat it. This is the recipe that his mom used to make, that his sister adopted when she opened a now-shuttered eatery many years ago, that can be found in his cousins’ restaurant in San Fernando. For Father’s Day, we have his permission to share his history with you.