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May 18, 2016 @ 10:42

How the sisig was born

Together with lechon and adobo, sisig would be among the top Filipino dishes that easily come to mind.

Unlike the two which have been around for centuries, the sisig was invented only in the 1970s. A true testament to Filipino creativity and knack for making use of what is available, the creation of the sisig was prompted by an abundance of supply of pig’s heads in the areas that used to house American servicemen in Clark in Pampanga and in Subic in Olongapo. Apparently, the US military personnel had no use for pig’s heads.

Filipinos would probably boil it and serve it with fried tofu and serve it as tokwa’t baboy with a vinegar and soy dipping sauce. It wouldn’t be fun if that was all there was to eat, though, and thus, the sisig was born.

Anthony Bourdain described the sisig to Anderson Cooper as chopped up pig’s face.

It’s not far from the truth but there is more to it than that.

Its creation is largely credited to Lucia Cunanan who had a small carinderia she named after herself (Aling Lucing) near the railroad tracks in Angeles, Pampanga. In its early days, the sisig was made by boiling the pig’s face first. It is then grilled and chopped up and mixed with a lot of minced onion, chillies, a dash of calamansi and soy sauce and Knorr seasoning. It was served on a sizzling plate and served mixed with the pig’s brain to make it luscious and a calamansi or two and chillies on the side.

Bourdain’s theory for using parts of the head was that it was for texture. It wasn’t so much for that as much as it was about using what was available in huge quantities. Also, Bourdain said the sisig was served with egg. Not when they first had it at the railroad tracks though.

There has been many permutations to the sisig since. The addition of the egg can be considered a permutation. As is the chicken sisig and the fish sisig.

One morbid trivia on the sisig creator: she died after having been stabbed several times. Some accounts say 10 times, others say over 30 times. A local told us she had 57 stab wounds. (By: Eileen A. Mencias)


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