K-Pop star and honorary Filipino celebrity Sandara Park went viral over the weekend for sharing a cure to her loneliness: sisig. It came in a plastic tub instead of a sizzling plate, but she nonetheless declared "super happy ako."
Sisig is classic Filipino comfort food. Like adobo and sinigang, its allure lies in the flexibility of ingredients (pork, chicken, bangus and tofu) and textures (crispy, soft or chewy). Yet there's one constant: a greased up sizzling plate with crunchy bits at the bottom.
The late travel host and author Anthony Bourdain so loved his taste of Aling Lucing's sisig in Angeles, Pampanga that he came up with this food porn on his show "Parts Unknown."
"The come to mama moment of my trip so far is the most loved of Filipino street foods. The strangely addictive, sizzling hot melange of hacked up pork bits," Bourdain said as he dined roadside with Kapampangan restaurateur and chef Calude Tayag. The two shared bottles of San Miguel pale pilsen.
"A crispy, chewy, spicy savory and altogether damn wonderful melange of textures that just sings. Everything I like on a smoking hot platter. Oh sweet symphony of pig parts. Oh yes!" he said.
Bourdain called it: sisig is crispy and chewy at the same time. It's salty, sweet and tangy if you squeeze calamnsi on top. It tastes just as rioutuous as it looks: chopped up furiously with cleavers that you can't tell the pig's cheeks and snout from the conventional meat.
It's also the "best" food to have with beer, he said. Unless it's in a takeout box, sisig is best eaten with friends while unwinding over buckets of beer.
Sandara had hers with Red Horse, plus kang kong and garlic rice on the side. Sharing her food find with her 5.5 million Twitter followers, she said: "May nahanap akong masarap na Pinoy resto sa Seoul. Super happy ako!!!"
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The Kapampangans claim to have invented sisig in its most popular form: hacked up pig's face served over hot plate and topped with egg. It's more chewy than crispy. It's proprietor is the late Lucia Cunanan, Aling Lucing to Angeles folk.
In Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, sisig is made from crispy roasted pork belly, tossed with a generous amount of red onions, chillies and mayonnaise. The city located in a rice-growing province is overlooked for its pork dishes. It's also home to a meaty and garlicky longanisa and "binabad" or marinated pork chops.
In Metro Manila, sisig is mostly crispy pork belly topped with chicharon bits and a sunny side up egg, regardless of whether it's in a food court, roadside stall or casual dining restaurant.
Regardless of the meat (or lack of) and the dressing, sisig is both comfort food and a celebration. "When you're drunk, this is exactly what you want," Bourdain said.