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.
Active time: 30 mins
Total time: 2 hours
500g pigs ears
1 large red onion, halved
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. calamansi juice
1 tbsp. soy sauce
¼ cup red onion, diced
2 red chilies, sliced
1 tsp. black pepper
In a large pot, add cleaned pigs ears, red onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, soy sauce, and white vinegar.
Add enough water to cover the ears then place on the stove over medium high heat.
Once boiling, turn the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.
Let the ears cook until tender, about 30-45 minutes.
Once tender, remove the ears from the liquid and set on a tray to dry. Heat grill or grill pan over high heat.
Coat the ears in oil, then grill, just until colored.
Remove ears from the grill then set aside to cool.
While ears are cooling, whisk together white vinegar, calamansi juice, soy sauce, red onion, chilies, and pepper.
Take the cooled, grilled pigs ears and slice into thin strips.
Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.