Today's Athens Banner-Herald food section features my adapted recipe for sisig, a hot, tangy and salty melange of pig ear, belly and chicken liver. I learned about sisig by hanging at the pool my wife, daughter and I often dip into. There's a group of immigrants from the Philippines, mostly nurses at an Athens hospital, who frequent the same pool on weekends. And as a I note in my story, I often bug them about the dishes they whip up for their poolside hangouts. Most recently, it was sisig. I asked the cooks if we could get together so they could teach me a few tricks to Filipino cuisine, and they sounded interested, but we've never met up. I had to take this pig by the ear, as it were, and come up with my own take on this dish that, really, is best consumed with beer and nothing else. Well, you need a little rice to soak up all the fat. Here's another recommendation: It all that you make in the same day, invite friends to consume sisig with you (share a case of beer or whatever). Sisig ain't so grand as leftovers.
SISIG WITH PIG EAR, PORK BELLY AND CHICKEN LIVER
Total time: 90 minutes, with 30-40 minutes active time.
1 lb. pig ears, or 1 package frozen pig ears weighing roughly 1 pound.
1 lb. pork belly
1/4 lb. chicken liver
1 cup onion, minced
1 nub ginger, minced
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. Chinese black vinegar
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. chili peppers, chopped. About six Thai chilis.
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
1 tsp salt
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus extra wedges for serving
Bring water in a large pot to boil and add salt and pepper. Add ears and belly and boil for 30 minutes, or until tender. Remove ear and belly and discard water.
On a baking sheet, broil ear and belly for 15-20 minutes, flipping to crisp all sides. Remove from oven, cool to touch, then chop into small chunks — slivers of ears and 1-inch cubes of belly.
In a large frying pan or skillet, melt butter and add onions. Cook until soft. Add ginger. Add chicken liver and cook through. Crush and break up livers with side of spoon or spatula. Add belly and ears and cook for five minutes. Add vinegar, soy sauce and chilies and stir well. Squeeze lime over pan.
Serve with rice and extra wedges of lime.