How to Cook Sisig: An Authentic Filipino Recipe

Updated on June 18, 2015
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Roselyn has been a freelancer for 40 years. She had been a street vendor, a baker, and a cook—until she found her niche: writing. :)

Pork sisig sauteed in a variety of spices like sliced long green pepper (Photo courtesy by sepia eye from Flickr).
Pork sisig sauteed in a variety of spices like sliced long green pepper (Photo courtesy by sepia eye from Flickr).

Sisig: An Illustrious Filipino Dish

The term "sisig" refers to the spicy and fatty—but oh-so popular—meat dish served all over the Philippines. It is considered a specialty food because its long and arduous preparation is really a "labor of love." But after hours of cooking, the aroma alone can make anyone hungry.

Sisig is best served with a mug of ice-cold beer. It is the unofficial national dish for Filipino beer-drinkers because of its unique blend of chili-pepper spice, sour vinegar and calamansi juice, and the saltiness of salt and soy sauce. Other herbs like garlic, red onion, white onion, ginger, black pepper, green bell pepper, celery, green onion leaves, kinchai, and kuchai also add to the rich bouquet of aromatic flavor.

Sisig is also considered a special viand and is often served with steamy rice for lunch or dinner at home. Well-known Filipino restaurants have concocted different cooking methods, yet the dish always ends up spicy, sizzling, and delicious.

Spicy pork sisig has also become a popular topping for pizza. Hot sauce lovers will surely love "sizzling sisig" pizzas!

Pork sisig pizza with lots of crunchy chicharon and bell pepper (photo courtesy by Vince&Allyn from Flickr).
Pork sisig pizza with lots of crunchy chicharon and bell pepper (photo courtesy by Vince&Allyn from Flickr).
Spicy sisig served with steamed rice on banana leaf (photo courtesy by vintagetei from Flickr).
Spicy sisig served with steamed rice on banana leaf (photo courtesy by vintagetei from Flickr).
Sizzling hot platter of pork sisig with a whole raw egg on top (photo courtesy by vintagetei from Flickr).
Sizzling hot platter of pork sisig with a whole raw egg on top (photo courtesy by vintagetei from Flickr).
Spicy pork sisig with a whole egg cooked on top while sizzling hot, served with steamed rice (photo courtesy by sepia eye from Flickr).
Spicy pork sisig with a whole egg cooked on top while sizzling hot, served with steamed rice (photo courtesy by sepia eye from Flickr).

Pork or Tofu: Original and New Ingredients

The common—and original—ingredients for sisig are parts of the pig's head (snout, cheeks, and ears), chicken liver and heart, and crispy pork skin. The dish is typically served on a sizzling plate, thus the term "sizzling sisig." A whole raw egg is placed on top as the main garnishing.

Today, thish ultra-versatile dish has adapted different varieties of main ingredients that include: beef head, chicken, tuna, bangus (milkfish), pork with tofu, pork with mussels, mixed seafoods, ostrich meat, python, frog meat, and many more.

Video: How to Cook Pork Sisig

Aling Lucing and the History of Sisig

In mid-1974, Lucia Cunanan, a lady restaurateur in Angeles, invented the original pork sisig dish. The pig ears and cheeks were boiled until tender and then chopped into small cubes. The meat was generously seasoned with vinegar and calamansi juice, then served with chopped onions and chopped grilled chicken liver and served on sizzling plates.

Aling Lucing, Ms. Cunanan's nickname, has been acknowledged by the Philippine Department of Tourism as the Sisig Queen, and her restaurant established the City of Angeles in Pampanga as the "Sisig Capital of the Philippines."

Unripe mangoes (photo courtesy by hairocker from Flickr).
Unripe mangoes (photo courtesy by hairocker from Flickr).

Sisig Trivia

The term "sisig" originated from Pampanga (a province in the island of Luzon, Philippines), and means "to snack on something sour." "Something sour" usually refers to unripe or semi-ripe fruits that are sour to taste (such as mango) and eaten with salt and vinegar dip.

The word is also used to describe a method of food preparation that marinates fish and meat (particularly pork) in a sour concoction—lemon juice or vinegar—and seasoned with pepper, salt, and other desired spices (such as garlic or green onion leaves).

These days, the only sisig that Filipinos (especially from other parts of the Philippines) know is the unforgettable "sizzling sisig."

Fried whole pork head (photo courtesy by JoeBenjamin from Flickr).
Fried whole pork head (photo courtesy by JoeBenjamin from Flickr).

Filipino Soul Food

Why Pigs' Heads?

Before sisig was invented and popularized, pigs' heads were cheaply priced because they were not often used in preparing meals for the family. People who usually bought them simply boiled the ears and jowl until tender, then chopped them and marinated them in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and ground black pepper.

Whole beef heads were priced higher because they are used in another popular Filipino dish: gotong batangas. This is a hot soup that contains chunks of assorted beef, internal organs, and deboned beef head, boiled until cooked in ginger and different spices. Recently, beef heads are also prepared as beef sisig.

The Three Stages of Sisig Preparation

This dish is characterized by the small bits of all ingredients mixed together. Everything is chopped: meat, garlic, onions, chili pepper, chicken liver, and any additional spices; except the raw egg and the calamansi, of course.

As if chopping everything is not enough work, the preliminary preparation requires three cooking methods: boiling, grilling (or broiling), and frying the pig's head, which has been deboned with only the snout, cheeks, and ears included.

  1. Boil - to tenderize the pig's head so that deboning and cutting into smaller parts will be easy.
  2. Grill/Broil/Barbecue - to remove the hair from the pig's head and provide an authentic smoky taste.
  3. Fry/Sauté - to crisp the meat and to sauté with garlic, onions, and other desired spices.

Sisig has always been served on sizzling hot plates, but many variations have been introduced by adding any of the following:

  • Raw egg
  • Chicharon (pork or chicken crisp/cracklings; or beef rind)
  • Liver (pork or chicken)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Brain (pork or ox)

Since not all people like to eat fatty or oily dishes, local chefs have concocted different versions using other ingredients such as chicken, tuna, bangus, squid, and tofu.

How to Cook Chicken Sisig

This is the easiest to prepare of all the variations. Just buy a jumbo-sized roasted chicken. Remove the bones and cut the chicken flesh into small cubes. Blend in a tablespoon of seedless calamansi juice and set aside.

  • Chop 3 medium red onions, 3 medium white onions, 3 long green peppers, 1 red chili pepper, 1 big red bell pepper, and a palm-sized ginger.
  • No need to sauté. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and heat in the microwave oven for 3 to 5 minutes. If you don't have a microwave oven, heat the mixture in non-stick pan while stirring constantly.
  • Serve hot over steamed rice or cooked pasta.

Chopped roasted whole chicken (photo courtesy by nicolegoes from Flickr).
Chopped roasted whole chicken (photo courtesy by nicolegoes from Flickr).

Vidoe: Sizzling Pork Sisig

Grilled Tuna Steak (Photo courtesy by found_drama from Flickr)
Grilled Tuna Steak (Photo courtesy by found_drama from Flickr)

How to Make Tuna Sisig

This is also very easy to prepare. Buy a large piece of fresh tuna steak. Wash and drain. Drizzle with vinegar or calamansi juice and grill over hot coals until cooked. With a fork, flake the tuna flesh and set aside.

In a non-stick pan, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Sauté one whole garlic head (peeled and minced) until golden. Add chopped 1 big red onion, 1 long green pepper, 1 red chili pepper, and 1 tablespoon of ginger juice. Stir in flaked tuna and blend well over low-medium heat. Add one whole egg, if desired.

Serve hot on sizzling plate. Provide calamansi, soy sauce, and chili pepper in a separate dip dish.

Note: Canned tuna chunks can also be used. Choose the variant in vegetable oil. Use the oil from the can to sauté.

How to cook tuna sisig (photo courtesy by AbiCorpus from Flickr).
How to cook tuna sisig (photo courtesy by AbiCorpus from Flickr).
Red hot chili peppers (photo courtesy by kromped from Flickr).
Red hot chili peppers (photo courtesy by kromped from Flickr).

How to Cook Bangus Sisig

Bangus, or milkfish, is a little tricky to prepare because the fish has more than a hundred tiny and needle-thin bones to remove. Use a pair of tweezers to pluck them out.

  • Clean, wash, and cut a large-sized whole milkfish into 4 parts. Boil in salted water for 15 minutes and drain. Remove the head and tail. Using a fork and knife, flake the flesh and carefully separate all fish bones. You may include the fish skin (without the scales), if desired. Marinate in vinegar and soy sauce for 10 minutes.
  • Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick pan. Over medium heat, sauté 5 cloves of minced garlic, 1 chopped green bell pepper, and 1 tablespoon minced ginger. Add bangus flakes and cook while stirring occasionally. Add 1 large chopped white onion and remove from heat.
  • Serve hot on a sizzling plate. Garnish with sliced calamansi fruit and red chili pepper.

Bangus 'Sisig' (Photo courtesy by koolasa from Flickr)
Bangus 'Sisig' (Photo courtesy by koolasa from Flickr)
Garlic (photo courtesy by funadium from Flickr).
Garlic (photo courtesy by funadium from Flickr).

How to Cook Squid Sisig

Squid sisig is somewhat chewy because the stringy flesh is not finely chopped. Squid rings are used as garnishing.

  • Clean 2 pounds of fresh large squids. Remove the round bulge inside the squid's mouth, the transparent backbone, and the innards. Wash thoroughly and drain. Marinate in calamansi juice and salt for 15 minutes, then boil for 5 minutes. Remove the skin and drain very well.
  • Chop the heads and tails. Cut the body into rings but use only small-sized ones as garnishing; so chop the bigger rings into bits. Set aside to drain.
  • Mince 1 large garlic head and a thumb-sized slice of ginger. Chop 1 large onion, 3 long green peppers, 2 red chili peppers, and 1 large red bell pepper.
  • In a small amount of hot oil, sauté garlic, onion, ginger, and all peppers. Add the chopped squids. Stir to avoid sticking. Sprinkle salt and ground black pepper. Drizzle a half cup of vinegar and leave to boil without stirring. Add a dash of soy sauce, just enough to add color. Let simmer for 15 minutes over very low heat. Prolong cooking time to remove excess sauce. Serve hot.

Squid sisig (photo courtesy by coe5bees from Flickr).
Squid sisig (photo courtesy by coe5bees from Flickr).
Chopped red onions (photo courtesy by ghholt from Flickr).
Chopped red onions (photo courtesy by ghholt from Flickr).

How to Cook Tofu Sisig

Tofu sisig is a bit oily because the tofu cubes have to be fried first. Use vegetable oil or olive oil in frying. Brown the tofu cubes to make it slightly chewy.

  • Wash and drain 1 large block of firm tofu. Cut into cubes and deep-fry in very hot oil. Place in a strainer to remove excess oil.
  • Sauté a half cup of chopped red onions and one-fourth cup of sliced long green peppers in small amount of hot oil. Stir in fried tofu cubes.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of vinegar and let boil. Add salt and ground black pepper to season. Sprinkle brown sugar to sweeten the taste. Serve hot.

Tofu sisig (photo courtesy by Toni Girl from Flickr).
Tofu sisig (photo courtesy by Toni Girl from Flickr).

How to Cook Beef Sisig

Sisig made of seared goat skin and meat by MVI (Flickr.com).
Sisig made of seared goat skin and meat by MVI (Flickr.com).
Chili pork sisig by VirtualErn (Flick.com).
Chili pork sisig by VirtualErn (Flick.com).
Pork sisig with chopped tomatoes by frustrated photoq (Flickr.com).
Pork sisig with chopped tomatoes by frustrated photoq (Flickr.com).
Sisig breakfast by besighyawn (Flickr.com).
Sisig breakfast by besighyawn (Flickr.com).
Hot sisig by bingbing (Flickr.com).
Hot sisig by bingbing (Flickr.com).
Very hot pork belly sisig by mackarus (Flickr.com).
Very hot pork belly sisig by mackarus (Flickr.com).
Sizzling sisig by arnold inuyaki (Flickr.com).
Sizzling sisig by arnold inuyaki (Flickr.com).
Grilled pork sisig by MVI (Flickr.com).
Grilled pork sisig by MVI (Flickr.com).
Coarsely chopped sisig by Spo0on (Flickr.com).
Coarsely chopped sisig by Spo0on (Flickr.com).
Seared pork sisig by Ron Diggity (Flickr.com).
Seared pork sisig by Ron Diggity (Flickr.com).
Fresh pork head is the main ingredient in sisig (photo courtesy by JontyUP from Flickr).
Fresh pork head is the main ingredient in sisig (photo courtesy by JontyUP from Flickr).
Whole pork head in a pot of boiling water (Photo courtesy by Karin_and_Bruce from Flickr).
Whole pork head in a pot of boiling water (Photo courtesy by Karin_and_Bruce from Flickr).

Questions & Answers

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      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        i have a lot of friends at blogjob who are filipino, this is the recipe i was looking for

      • profile image

        Rose 5 years ago

        Cool & interesting post..Not bad @ all.......Yummy:)

      • profile image

        mharveen25 6 years ago

        will cook it later,, very informative hub! Thumbs up!!

      • profile image

        sunshine 6 years ago

        Tried Sisig yesterday for the first time, loved it! Today I'm scouting online for the receipe, thank you for your page!

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        sisig is awesome! if you don't like pig snout (which I don't like) go to other varieties :D

      • profile image

        chi 6 years ago

        will try to cook squid sisig for pulutan,,thanks much for the recipes.^_^ God bless..:)

      • applejuic3 profile image

        applejuic3 6 years ago from San Diego, CA

        this is making me really hungry. thank you for putting together this hub.

      • Sun-Girl profile image

        Sun-Girl 6 years ago from Nigeria

        Nice and very interesting hub, which i so much enjoyed reading from.

      • profile image

        aquemini954 7 years ago

        Saw this dish on Anthony Bourdain No Reservations, and I can not wait to make it. Lots of great info here, thanks!!

      • knowaskconsider profile image

        knowaskconsider 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

        You are killing me with wonderful recipes. Such beautiful photo's as well. Too hungry to talk any further. Shame on you for making me hungry.

      • jreuter profile image

        Jason Reuter 7 years ago from Portland, Oregon

        This is the first hub I've read of yours, and it is fantastic! So much information and varied videos and photos, it's really put together well. Sisig definitely looks delicious, although I think I will have to opt for the chicken version, I'm not too sure about that pig head! ;)

      • profile image

        carlei 7 years ago

        cant wait to try tofu sisig tom..thanks for the recipe :)

      • profile image

        joji55 7 years ago

        All my respect and thanks to queen cleopatra for sharing all these informations and how tos! I will surely try this with our cook. Merci encore!

      • profile image

        tinar 7 years ago

        thank you for posting thr recipe for sizzling chicken.. il prepare it for my friends bday...

      • queen cleopatra profile image
        Author

        Roselyn Mendoza 7 years ago from Philippines

        Thank you, rosy _life. I'm glad to learn that the recipe here has helped! Happy eating :D

      • profile image

        rosy _life 7 years ago

        I've been trying to find a recipe for sizzling tofu similar to Max's for almost 2 years now since i tasted it but now i finally found it and so excited to try it tomorrow. Me and my husband both like it.

      • queen cleopatra profile image
        Author

        Roselyn Mendoza 7 years ago from Philippines

        Hi Jigga22 :D Thanks for the lovely comment. haha! We Pinays cook like magic. lol

      • profile image

        Jigga22 7 years ago

        My husband is american and he love this food when we were in the Philippines. I tried to make it here and now he keep asking when I'm gonna make it again.

      • DjBryle profile image

        DjBryle 7 years ago from Somewhere in the LINES of your MIND, and HOPEFULLY at the RIPPLES of your HEART. =)

        Suddenly, my mouth is watery... lol! Thanks for sharing this very delectably tasteful hub! Voted up! =)

      • profile image

        leih tegio 7 years ago

        whoooaaaa...i liked the tuna sisig...nice hub.and nicer pics..its making us hungry..thanks for sharing..

      • profile image

        (F)resh.LIP 7 years ago

        sisig is my FAVORITE pinoy dish, and my dad just taught me how to cook it yesterday. it took 4 hours to prepare! it turned out pretty good for my 1st time i must say! haha. i

      • profile image

        topnoyze 8 years ago

        love it ... yummy sisig...slurrppp...

      • profile image

        ruthsoberano 8 years ago

        do you have a gravy recipe for sisig?

      • profile image

        Tato 8 years ago

        This is just perfect!!! Thanks so much for sharing. I'm hungry already cant wait to get home and cook my first time sisig. ;)

      • queen cleopatra profile image
        Author

        Roselyn Mendoza 8 years ago from Philippines

        Thank you for reading and leaving a nice comment, prey. Yup, a little mayo or yogurt on top of sisig would add yumminess. :)

      • profile image

        prey 8 years ago

        hi! thanks for the recipes. have been looking for recipes to replicate Max's Tofu Sisig which I just recently tasted! Yummy! I should ask, there have been a number of restos that uses a little bit of mayo before serving I guess. I've tried Gilligan's sisig and Max's tofu sisig both have a whitish creamy sauce. It tastes great!

      • queen cleopatra profile image
        Author

        Roselyn Mendoza 8 years ago from Philippines

        Hello pinkhawk,

        Thank you for visiting my hub. Tuna sisig is the easiest to make. :)

      • pinkhawk profile image

        pinkhawk 8 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

        ...hmmm...yumyum! My stomach is shouting now, even only in the pics-they are mouth watering, my favorite is the tuna sisig! :) thanks for this yumilicious hub! :)

      • profile image

        cynnch 8 years ago

        thank you for the sisig tofu.

      • queen cleopatra profile image
        Author

        Roselyn Mendoza 9 years ago from Philippines

        Hi, johnlopez1985! Thank you for dropping by. I'm glad you like the pix :)

      • johnlopez1985 profile image

        johnlopez1985 9 years ago from Singapore

        Wow! Great hub. The pictures are making me hungry.

      • queen cleopatra profile image
        Author

        Roselyn Mendoza 9 years ago from Philippines

        Thank you, mdawson17 :) Creating this hub had been a pleasure to me and I'm glad that other people likes it.

      • profile image

        mdawson17 9 years ago

        That had my mouth drooling!! Your hub had my stomach growling right at the beginning! This was a very good hub and as well it gave me another idea when I host friends over!!

        Thanhs

        mdawson17

      • queen cleopatra profile image
        Author

        Roselyn Mendoza 9 years ago from Philippines

        Hello, RGraf! Thanks for dropping by. You can always cut out on spices to suit your palate. Try the chicken 'sisig' :)

      • RGraf profile image

        Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

        If I only liked spicy.......

        Thanks for making me hungry.

      • queen cleopatra profile image
        Author

        Roselyn Mendoza 9 years ago from Philippines

        Hello, quicksand! What a gentleman you are, calling me 'your majesty.' lol. Thank you for dropping by :)

      • quicksand profile image

        quicksand 9 years ago

        Your Majesty, my appetite has risen to 99.999 after seeing all those pix!

        :)

      • queen cleopatra profile image
        Author

        Roselyn Mendoza 9 years ago from Philippines

        Hello, men are dorks :) Thank you for visiting my 'sisig' hub. You must be like us. My family don't like the oil so we perfected the recipe for the chicken 'sisig.' You must try it 'coz we love it.

      • men are dorks profile image

        men are dorks 9 years ago from Namibia

        Queeny, I can smell it and drool and savour, but the head and snout in the pot... I have to think twice. Don't get me wrong I'll eat, but oi, the sight.

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