Category Archives: Filipino

Lard of the Flies

Raw pig ear for sisig

“Pulutan” in Tagalog means “finger food” or appetizer. Traditionally it is food that you eat with beer or liquor and is usually salty and greasy. Boiled peanuts, kropek (shrimp/fish crackers), chicharon (pork rinds), and isaw (That’s EE-sow, not EYE-saw; marinated & skewered intestines) are a few examples but perhaps one of the more famous and accessible ones is sisig, which is a sizzling mess of pork (traditionally the pig’s head – cheek, ear, snout) and liver, seasoned with soy sauce and kalamansi which is a tiny Filipino citrus fruit.

Most people are grossed out at the thought of touching weird cuts of meat and organs. But this me, and I got a 5 out of 7 in IB-S Biology. I love handling raw meat and examining dead animals. Sometimes the smell is a little gross but I think if you’re gonna eat meat, you should at least know how it’s prepared. I got to witness a goat slaughter in Kenya, and then we ate it for dinner. If they had insisted, I would’ve followed suit and drank some of the blood. Or at least TASTED it. I would have tasted it. Blah blah blah bacteria in the blood…we ate the damn thing and I’m still alive.


Anyway I found this recipe online and went from there. I only sort of followed it… Here is my method:

2 lbs or so pork belly, available at your local Chinese supermarket. Just rub your belly and point to the pork section.
4 large pig ears, also available at Chinese supermarket. Give your ears a tug and the butchers will show you where it is.
1/4 lb or so chicken liver. If you end up with some leftover you can ask your chef boyfriend to make paté with it.
1 medium red onion, diced
3 thai chiles, sliced thinly
1 knob minced ginger
5-6 cloves minced garlic
Soy sauce
Maggi seasoning
Salt & pepper
Vegetable oil
Bacon fat
Kalamansi or lemon
Hot sauce

1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add salt and black peppercorns, then place the pig ears inside and boil for two hours. Keep an eye on it so that the water level doesn’t get too low – you will need to add more.
2. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 325. Trim the pork belly (remove the skin and any bones) and cut it into 1.5-2 inch wide sections. Toss with salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Also a little bit of Maggi. Place it on a roasting rack in a roasting tray in the oven for about 30-45 minutes.
3. When the ears are tender, take them out of the water and let them get cool enough to handle. They will be gelatinous and sticky. With a sharp knife cut them into thin strips, about 1/4 inch wide. Toss with some oil, salt, and pepper. Put them in a grill pan to crisp up. You might need to do this in a few batches. When they’ve crisped up, dice them into small pieces.
4. Dice the cooked pork belly and set aside.
5. Clean the chicken liver – there maybe fatty/fibrous bits that will turn sinewy and tough when cooked. Remove these.
6. When you are ready to cook, heat a large pan and add the bacon fat. Add the garlic, and when it turns fragrant, add the ginger.
7. Add the diced pig ears to further crisp, seasoning with Maggi and soy sauce. Also salt and pepper as needed.
8. When the pig’s ears have gotten crispy, add the pork belly. Also the chiles.
9. Add the chicken liver to cook, breaking it up into small bits.
10. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
11. When everything is cooked, turn off the heat and toss the red onion in.
12. Serve with rice, a wedge of lemon, and hot sauce. I like to use Crystal but Tabasco is used traditionally.

The recipe says to mix in a little bit of mayo but that’s not the way I’ve eaten it traditionally, and I opted out.

It came out surprisingly delicious. This is the first time I’ve ever made it, and my first time to handle pig’s ears. Ryan had two servings and wanted me to make garlic rice and heat up the leftovers with a fried egg. For breakfast. We never eat breakfast.

It’s really just the prep work that is a pain because there’s so much of it. But the actual cooking part only takes about 20 minutes. I’d definitely make this again. Best beer food ever. And pork – pork is the best! So many different cuts, tastes, and texture from one animal. I love you, Piggy.


Cross-country homecooking

I’m not Filipino but my parents were born and raised in the Philippines and I went to high school there. I don’t miss it at all. I have friends that I miss dearly, and the beaches are beautiful, but really – I have no desire to go back to sit in traffic, see the same party people over and over again, and feel like I’m missing out on life (that’s a whole other story). But I really really really miss the food. We have restaurants here but they are in Queens and not convenient to get to. So when I went to Vancouver this weekend for Grandma’s 90th bday reunion I put in a request during some downtime to have some homecooking.

This is a spot in Coquitlam, BC called Kulinarya:
Sago at Gulaman
Sago at Gulaman – basically this is Filipino bubble tea. Usually it’s scarier looking, in a black liquid w/ black grass jelly.

Sisig – all the meat and cartilage from the pig’s head chopped up and served on a sizzling platter with soy sauce, garlic, onions, and traditionally a squeeze of kalamansi.

Inihaw na Pusit
Inihaw na pusit – basically grilled squid stuffed with tomatoes. Really simple and good.

Bagoongan – pork belly cooked with green beans in spicy bagoong (fermented shrimp paste).

Ginataang Kalabasa
Ginataang Kalabasa – squash, okra, eggplant, pork, and shrimp in a coconut milk sauce. There is no such thing as vegetarian in the Philippines.

Of course we ate all of this with a giant bowl of garlic rice. My only gripe was that they didn’t actually cook the rice in garlic, they only topped it with fried garlic. I like it when the rice gets burnt a little bit…when I make it at home I even go as far as to use both fresh and powdered garlic to get the full dragon breath effect.

This was probably the best meal I ate there…we also ate a shit ton of Chinese food and after a couple of days of this my body finally revolted and wouldn’t take anymore. The only thing that fixed it was eating some of Ryan’s chorizo tacos when I came home.