After being declared a ‘breakout dish’, the succulent Aling Lucing sisig from Angeles City reaped praises as it placed 4th in the over-all rankings during the recently concluded World Street Food Congress (WSFC) held May 31 to June 4 at the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds in Manila.
Aling Lucing Sisig is the highest ranked Philippine entry along with General’s Lechon in Makati grabbing the 7th spot.
The famous kapampangan cuisine bested other entries coming from the United States, Thailand, China, Mexico, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and India.
The WSFC is Asia’s biggest convergence of the best street food offerings being sold locally and in other countries.
Other Filipino eateries in the top 50
Landing on Top 7, General’s Lechon, a Makati gas station favorite, the Congress notes: “This humble food shop that sees more delivery orders than at their little shop has this Negros style lechon perfected down pat. ‘Crispy out and soft inside’ is a common call cry among their fans and we must add “juicy and oh, the garlic chili!’”
The other Philippine eateries that made the cut are Zeny’s Pinangat (22nd) in Bicol, which serves pork wrapped in taro leaves; Sharyn’s Kansi Beef Soup (32nd) in Bacolod, which serves a soup with beef chunks soured by a local fruit called batuan; and Doods Ihaw and BBQ (46th) in Davao City, a street food stall specializing in wood-fired tuna jowl.
The criteria the Congress used in determining the Top 50 include the “mode of operations – ingredients sourcing, food preparation, basic hygiene, adaptability, consistency, confidence and the quality and flavor of the food.” They also factored in “their ability to inspire and create jobs, reputation and opportunities for the populace, even the displaced and disadvantaged.”
Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s take on the gastronomic sizzler
During the event, celebrity chef and host of CNN’s travel and food show “Parts Unknown,” Anthony Bourdain declared sisig as “the breakout dish.”
Bourdain was right in saying that the kapampangan pork sisig will lead the charge in Filipino cuisine’s rising international recognition.
“Americans and American palettes are just now starting to become seriously interested… I think certain Filipino dishes are more likely to take root and take hold more quickly than others,” Bourdain told CNN Philippines‘ The Source.
He called sisig “casual, accessible, [and] exactly what you need after a few beers.”
“I think it’s the most likely to convince people abroad who have had no exposure to Filipino food to maybe look further and investigate further beyond sisig. I think that’s the one that’s gonna hook them,” said Bourdain.
The TV host, chef, and writer always wins Filipino hearts, it seems, with his unabashed love for certain Filipino dishes. “I think the number one Filipino dish that would really set the world on fire and have the highest possibility of success everywhere in the world is sisig,” he told members of the media at the Conrad Hotel Manila.
“It’s the ultimate drinking food…it’s really perfect and it fits right in the current pork-centric zeitgeist…It’s a low-impact, minimal commitment, affordable dish that’s fun,” Bourdain said.
“You know, you’re sitting around drinking beer, and you’re on beer number four, and the arrival of a big plate of sisig is like the best thing ever! It’s got flavor, it’s got texture, it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s unpretentious…absolutely delicious drinking food on the planet.
Bourdain is no stranger to the variety of dishes our cuisine has to offer. He has sampled lechon in Cebu, ate halo-halo in the streets of Manila, indulged in servings of Jollibee’s sweet spaghetti, toured Binondo with Ivan Man Dy, and was introduced to Kapampangan cuisine by Chef Claude Tayag on his previous trips here. He is back to look for future tenants for his mammoth project, the Bourdain Market.
Aling Lucing’s recipe
According to Kapampangan blogger and GMA News online contributor Ruston Banal, the story of Aling Lucing Sisig dates back to the 1970s, when the late Lucita Cunanan and her family installed their gariton (street food cart) along the crossing (railways) to cater to the Filipino workers and American servicemen in Clark.
The Cunanans’ method of preparing sisig starts with the usual boiling of the pig’s head. Their secret to making their particular sisig lies in the mix of the water used for boiling, which helps create the delicious flavor the carinderia is known for.
When the meat is tender, it is grilled until it becomes golden brown in color and crisp in texture. It is then chopped up and several other ingredients are added to it: grilled liver, soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi, black and red pepper and a bit of salt.
“Our recipe is the same as that of other sisig makers. But one thing that makes it different is the original mix of spices and seasonings that I put in which can never be revealed. In fact, only a few of my siblings know the exact recipe,” said Zeny Cunanan, Aling Lucing’s eldest daughter.
“Isn’t it that sometimes, secrets are best to be kept as secrets? This is because when revealed, it may end everything. In our case, the secret ingredient is what makes our sisig go on. And it will be kept as long as people still want us to do it.”