Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Ethnic Auckland: Sweet memories in sour taste of home

Chef Felix Lamela Jr from Island Joe's BBQ in Onehunga holds a plate of sisig, a nostalgic treat for many Filipinos. Photo / Natalie Slade
Chef Felix Lamela Jr from Island Joe's BBQ in Onehunga holds a plate of sisig, a nostalgic treat for many Filipinos. Photo / Natalie Slade

Few dishes in the world can claim to have a festival held in their honour, but each year in December, Filipinos gather in Angeles City, Pampanga, for the Sisig Festival.

Sisig is a sizzling pork dish, but instead of pricey pork meat cuts, it is made from parts of the pig head and liver, usually seasoned with lemon juice and chilli pepper.

The story goes that locals used to buy unused pig heads cheaply from the US Air Force since they were not used in food served to military personnel based there.

In a country where more than a quarter of the population lived below the poverty line, cheap pig head and organs became the main source of meat for many.

Filipinos are now the third largest Asian migrant community in New Zealand, and pork sisig is a favourite at Pinoy restaurants here and also at the Auckland night markets.

Cecilia Tan, an immigrant from the Philippines and director of Island Joe's BBQ, said her restaurant sells over 80 sisig orders in an average week.

"Sisig is something nearly all Filipinos can identify with and what they would have if they wanted a taste of home," Ms Tan said.

"For me, eating sisig always brings back memories of my childhood when we would eat it with piping hot rice."

Ms Tan said sour marinate, such as lemon juice or vinegar, and a slight hint of chilli, was the secret to making sisig "a favourite for everyone".

Sisig has many variations, with ox brains, chicharon (pork crackling) and chicken liver sometimes used.

Pig head can be bought at most butchers, such as the Mad Butcher, and Fresh and Save Asian supermarket for about $6 each.


Pork Sisig

Ingredients:
• 1 pig face
• 3 tablespoon soy sauce
• 3 pieces bay leaf
• 1 cups water
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 white onion, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon Knorr seasoning powder
• 2 whole lemon
• 2 cloves garlic
• 3 pieces green chilli chopped
• ¼ cup butter (or margarine)
• 1 egg


Method:
• Bring a pot of water to the boil, add soy sauce, garlic and salt. Place pig face in and simmer for 45 minutes or until pork parts are tender.
• Remove head, and peel off meat from cheeks, snout and cut off ears and chop to fine pieces when cool.
• Add salt, Knorr seasoning, onion, green chilli finger, lemon juice and mix ingredients well.
• Melt butter and add the mixture together with the meat in a pan and fry for about 5 minutes.
• Add egg, mix it well and turn off heat.

Where to try:
Island Joe's BBQ, Unit A7 Dress Smart, 151 Arthur St, Onehunga. Ph (09) 634 7519.

- NZ Herald

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