As mentioned in my previous post, I will be introducing, one at a time, 5 utterly fatty Filipino pork dishes I have deemed as the Five Point Pork Exploding Heart Technique. The first fatty pork dish I’d like to present to you in this series is Spicy Sizzling Sisig.
Sisig is a spicy and sourish Filipino dish usually comprised of pig ears, snout, and cheeks (and sometimes brain!) that have been boiled, grilled, and fried (yes, it’s cooked thrice) with spicy chilies and then served on a hot sizzling platter. In other words, it’s a platter of sizzling pig’s face (and sometimes brain!).
Before any of you turn your own noses up at this dish, let me say that after I’ve had it in the Philippines in Boracay, and after making it myself, I can certainly attest that Sisig is a damn fine and tasty dish. (Market Manila also has some great Sisig posts here, here, and here.)
Ok fine, you’ll give Sisig a try, but how does one obtain a pig’s face you ask? Well, if you happen to have access to a severed pig’s head, you yourself can easily butcher the face off, as shown in the following Gourmet Magazine video that shows Chef Chris Cosentino butchering a pig’s head to make the Italian dish, Porchetta di Testa. Warning: the following video can be disturbing if you don’t like to see meat being butchered, but it’s pretty awesome and informative nonetheless:
See, Filipinos aren’t the only ones to eat pig’s face!
Of course, many of us probably don’t have access to the severed head of a little piggy, let alone are we willing enough to butcher it ourselves. So making Sisig sans snout with just pork ears and jowl is the next best thing.
If you happen to have some pork ears with hair on them, just shave them with a razor and/or burn them off with a blowtorch as was shown in the Gourmet Magazine video above. Luckily for me, the ears I purchased were already clean-shaven.
To make my Sisig, I first boiled some pork ears for a couple of hours in some water along with a couple of dried chipotle chilies and bay leaves (the chilies and bay were more for aromatic purposes as I didn’t want my place smelling like boiling pig ears).
Are you listening to me?
Some Sisig recipes I’ve seen say to grill the ears first to get rid of any stray hairs, and then boil them. But that seemed counterintuitive to me in that the boiling would probably wash away any desired char and smokiness from the grill.
I also took one of my pork jowls and trimmed away much (a whole friggin lot) of the fat because I thought it would be a shame to waste all the delicious jowl fat to the flames of my grill. Don’t fret though, there was still plenty of fat left on the jowl and I saved the trimmed fat for another use down the road (another post for another time).
For those of you unfamiliar with pork jowl, it is used to make the Italian cured meat called Guanciale–which is basically face bacon (rather than bacon made from pork belly). Luckily I ordered two jowls, one for Sisig and one for Guanciale. As soon as the weather cools down around here, I will be curing my own homemade Guanciale with the other pork jowl I have (yet another post for another time).
I then marinated the boiled ears and the trimmed jowl (no need to boil the jowl) in some soy, vinegar, kalamansi juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes overnight. After marinating, I grilled the ears and jowl over high heat until they were nice and charred. I tasted the ears and jowl at this point, and they were so good already–especially the ‘qued jowl:
Tasty Barbecued Pork Jowl. Tender meat, quivering fat.
The pork ears were no slouch either, as they seemed to take up a lot of the flavor from the marinade. Although the ears are, of course, all cartiledge, they weren’t tough to chew on at all as they were rendered tender from the earlier boiling. Although I used four pork ears for my recipe, feel free to tone it down to two ears.
After I removed the pork from the grill, I chopped everything up into small pieces. Along with some chopped onions and some thai and serrano chilies, I sauteed the pork jowls in a hot skillet–some of the fat renders out from the jowls and ends up caramelizing the onions into sweet bits. I added the chopped ears to the pan at the last minute, then presented everything on a hot sizzling platter as Sisig should be served. Sisig, it’s spicy, smoky, tangy, and utterly porky delicious.
Sizzle fer shizzle, home skillet!
And that friends, is the first dish for my Five Point Pork Exploding Heart Technique. Use it with caution. Although there are four more dishes to go, I won’t reveal them all here at once because there is indeed a rather effective defense against the lethal Five Point Pork Exploding Heart Technique: Moderation.
Spicy Sizzling Sisig
2-4 pork ears, cleaned and rinsed
2 dried chipotle peppers
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cane vinegar
1/4 cup kalamansi juice (or a mixture of lemon and lime juice)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound pork jowl, trimmed of excess fat (save trimmed fat for another use)
1 onion, diced
1 thai bird chili, sliced
1 serrano chili, sliced
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
Place the pork ears, chipotle peppers, and bay leaves in a large pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and continue simmering for 2 hours until the ears become tender. Drain the ears and allow to cool to room temperature.
Combine the soy, vinegar, kalamansi juice, garlic, and pepper flakes to make a marinade. Place the pork ears and jowl in a large zip-top bag, or in a shallow dish, and pour the marinade over the pork. Marinate the pork overnight.
Remove the pork from the marinade then discard the marinade. Pat the ears dry with paper towels, then brush them with oil (no oil is needed for the already fatty jowl). Place the ears and the jowl on a very hot grill and cook for a total of 15-20 minutes, turning the ears and the jowl frequently. Remove pork from grill and allow to rest until they are cool enough to handle.
Chop the pork ears into small pieces and set aside. Chop the pork jowl into small pieces and set aside, making sure to keep the jowl separate from the ears.
Add the pork jowls to a large skillet over high heat and saute for 3-5 minutes. At this point, you can pour off some of the rendered fat that collects in the pan, but I left it in there. Add the onions, chilies, and paprika to the hot pan and cook until the onions soften. Add the chopped ears to the pan and mix everything to combine. Cook for 1 more minute, then place the Sisig on a pre-heated sizzling hot platter.
Provide some fresh kalamansi (or lime or lemon) on the side for spritzing onto the Sisig. Serve the Sisig with rice and an ice cold beer.