All about Sisig
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PEOPLE outside Pampanga would probably always think of sisig as the usual sizzling kind —minced lean pork served on a sizzling plate, with butter, egg, and calamansi. This was because it was the version that shot to fame in the 1970s, courtesy of Lucia “Aling Lucing” Cunanan of Angeles City. Continue reading to learn more about Sisig:
But only Kapampangans could tell you that the sisig, as we now know it is, not the same sisig that their forebears used to enjoy.
Last weekend, the Department of Tourism, with the city government of Angeles City, Pampanga, mounted Sisig Fiesta 2016, a sisig cooking demo led by renowned fusion Chef Sau Del Rosario, and Kapampangan heritage cuisine master Atching Lilian Borromero, at the Museo ng Angeles in historic Angeles City, as part of the annual nationwide gastronomic festival, Flavors of the Philippines.
Chef Sau gave a modern twist to the traditional sisig by showcasing his Avant-Garde Sisig, while Atching Lilian stuck true to her Kapampangan heritage and showed how classic sisig is done the old-fashioned way.
The demonstration was followed by a buffet of the many types of sisig, from the popular variants like shrimp sisig and lechon sisig, to the exotic and modern types like sisig nachos, sisig pizzas, sisig tugak (frog), and balut sisig. About 20 variants were served to guests who were all excited to get a gustatory glimpse of the less known types of sisig.
Leading the Young back to their roots
“This demonstration is not only for food, but for educating the younger generations who are exposed to commercial fast food. What we are doing here is preserving heritage cuisine—parangcomputer lang iyan: nawala ang tumbang preso, Chinese garter at mataya-taya nu’ng nagkaroonng videogames. So we lead them back to their roots, to their heritage,” Chef Sau said.
Sisig however, is far from its modern cousin, the sizzling sisig. The term ‘sisig’ was first noted way back in 1732, in the Kapampangan dictionary written by Fra Diego Bergaño, a Spanish friar. The term meant “sliced into long shreds and pieces,” similar to mincing. Sisig refers to the process of slicing food into tiny pieces, and not the food itself.
The first sisig was not meat, but vegetables and fruits sliced thinly and small, then doused in vinegar, like ceviche or salad. Eventually, it became predominantly pork, and the sisig referring to the vegetable type was forgotten.
“So looking into the exhibit now of the different variants of sisig, you can see here that hindi lamangpork nagtatapos ang sisig; merong bangus, tinapa, balut, there’s a sisig for any kind of palate,” said Pampanga Pronvincial Tourism Officer Arvin Paul Lingad. “That’s why we have sinisig na mangga,sinisig na puso ng saging, that was the case then, but eventually, it came to meat. Aling Lucing boosted the popularity of pork sisig—naging popular na yan na pulutan in Angeles City. The sisig babi (sisig baboy) is the signature dish of Angeles City.”
Know more about Sisig
Before Aling Lucing’s sizzling sisig, the classic pork sisig was strongly sour and spicy, and made of simple pork cuts, mostly from the face and ears of a pig, doused in vinegar and served with herbs like pako (fiddleferns), and vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes.
“Pampanga has been known as the food capital of the country. Of the many reasons, one is that it is the birthplace of sisig. Kaya naging well-known ang province and Angeles city in particular because of the residents’ flair for cooking; kaya, that is one reasons why Region III is Region III because of Pampanga—the culinary capital of the country,” said Ronaldo Tiotuico, regional director for DOT, Region III.