You’re a Big Star now, Sisig

Traditional Sizzling Sisig at Max’s in Jersey City

Traditional Sizzling Sisig at Max’s in Jersey City

By Cristina DC Pastor

It’s time.

Adobo’s star has dimmed, although its influential place in the culinary mainstream is assured. Non-Filipinos now recognize Adobo and order it with authority like they had grandmothers who cooked it for them.

You’re the New Star now, Sisig. We have waited and wondered when you will emerge in the mainstream consciousness, until, lo and behold, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s prophetic proclamation got most everyone’s attention.

“Sisig will win the hearts and minds of the world,” Bourdain declared in a CNN Philippines program that aired in June 2017.

Sisig has since became a favorite comfort food in the New York metropolitan area and not just for Filipinos who drink beer. Business for Sisig City food truck from Staten Island has picked up since the pronouncement from Bourdain. Owner Manny Imperial told The FilAm, “Our numbers for catering and events have gone up since (Bourdain’s recognition). Sisig City’s pretty booked for the summer with weddings, food truck events and private parties.”

Mama Fina’s House of Filipino Sisig, a pioneer in New Jersey, opened in early 2018 in the East Village, a location that is always filled with customers. The restaurant said its growing following prompted the need to expand. It offers a variety of Sisig dishes, such as Pork Sisig, Tuna Sisig, Posit Sisig, and Bangus Sisig, all of them mince-chopped and blended with onions and chili.

Sisig will always be a specialty staple in many Filipino restaurants because the dish is familiar — traditionally eaten as “pulutan” (snacks) and paired with beer or any form of alcohol. Some Filipino women may find it greasy, but with husbands or boyfriends who drink, they get used to eating it with them. It is usually served in restaurants on a sizzling plate and hardly ever cooked at home.

What goes into Sisig may be awkward to explain to non-Filipinos getting acquainted with Filipino food: pig’s head (snout, cheeks, and ears), chicken liver and heart, and pork skin. The ‘meats’ are flavored with chopped chili and onions and bathed in vinegar and calamansi (citrus) juice. To solve the Eek Factor, some restaurants have replaced the pig’s head with fish or squid.

Tama Restaurant in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn is prettifying the Sisig and making it Instagram-worthy. Owner and chef Miguel de Leon described during the launch of Filipino Restaurant Week how Tama has recreated Sisig into a patty wedged within a purple bun.

“When you get a plate of Sisig it’s hard to look at,” said De Leon. “Using all the parts, the ears the cheeks the skin, everything, we form them into patties, deep-fry them and that’s the basis for our Sisig Burger.”

He added, “It’s hard to take a picture with what your lola makes but it’s easy to make a picture when something is purple or something is or bright green or when there’s an egg yolk running through it.”

Bjorn Dela Cruz, chef and owner at Ibis Eats also in Brooklyn, welcomed the mainstreaming of Sisig but cautioned against stereotyping Filipino cuisine with just one dish.

“Filipino food is not about one dish, just like Korean dish is not just Kimchi or Vietnamese dish is not just Pho,” he said. “What I like about what’s happening to Sisig is it creates a bigger, broader view of the Filipino food experience.”

“We’re bringing the Sisig to other states, to Pennsylvania to Washington, and then we’ll have a party and have fun,” proclaimed Tourism Attaché Susan del Mundo about plans by her office for a Sisig roadshow.

See, Sisig? These are exciting times.

Filipino Restaurant Weeks runs from May 14 to 26 with two dozen restaurants participating:
FlipSigi, Grill 21, Ibis Eats, Tsismis, Jeepney, Kabisera Kape, Kuma Inn, Maharlika, Mighty Bowl, Mountain Province, Sisig City Food Truck, Philam Kusina, Purple Yam, Swell Dive, Tama, Talde, Tito Rad’s Grill & Restaurant, Ugly Kitchen, La Parilla de Manila, Max’s, Noodle Fan, Pinoy Filipino Restaurant, and Perla

© The FilAm 2018

Sisig Crunch Cups at Sisig City Food Truck

Sisig Crunch Cups at Sisig City Food Truck

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  1. […] May 7, 2018 By Voices of NY Source: The FilAm Original story […]

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