Sisig is a traditional Filipino dish that likely dates back to before the 17th century, so it's nothing new. But that doesn't exclude it from seeing a sudden burst of interest (think kimchi). If you’ve started hearing sisig pop up in conversation of late, that might be because Anthony Bourdain recently told CNN that he thinks Filipino food is about to become one of the trendiest cuisines in America and the chopped pork dish could be many first-timers' gateway into those flavors.
“I think sisig is perfectly positioned to win the hearts and minds of the world as a whole,” Bourdain said, adding that “traditional Filipino food has sour and bitter notes, which are very unfamiliar to Americans.” But American palettes are changing, and as a result the television host and world traveler thinks Filipino food “has a really bright future,” in the States.
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To prepare yourself for the future onslaught of Filipino food trucks and sisig shops coming to a neighborhood near you, here are a few things the unaccustomed eater should know about sisig.
What is in sisig?
Traditionally, sisig takes all the good parts from a pig’s head – specifically the cheeks, snout, and ears – along with the liver and belly, simmers them in water, and then they're chopped into small pieces and fried. The mixture is spiced with chili peppers and calamansi, a small green citrus fruit that resembles a lime, and finally mixed with egg, onion, and sometimes mayo.
Lucia Cunanan, a Filipino restaurateur based in Angeles City, is credited with creating the modern version of sisig, by serving the dish on a sizzling plate to make the meat crispier, and adding chicken liver and vinegar to the ingredients, in the mid-1970s. Her creation earned Angeles City the title “Sisig Capital of the Philippines.”
Where can you get eat it?
Maharalika in Manhattan’s East Village serves up some of the best Filipino food in New York. Mama Fina’s House of Filipino Sisig in Elmwood Park, New Jersey is known for their pork sisig. Jeepney and Pig and Khao in New York have also earned a reputation for their exemplary Filipino food. And as the LA Times notes, Pinoy Food Republic in Carson, California serves up sisig in the traditional style.