Filipino food is placed in the spotlight at the East Village's Maharlika, where they serve sisig, a traditional dish that uses unusual pig parts. CHOW.com Contributing Editor Liza de Guia reports.
At Maharlika, a new Filipino restaurant in the East Village, they serve sisig, a traditional Filipino dish that uses unusual pig parts.
Filipino food has, until now, been pretty neglected in New York's restaurant scene, and Chef Miguel Trinidad is working to change that. He traveled to the Philippines to master classic Filipino dishes a few years ago, and uses his training in French technique to add a modern twist.
The sisig here, which he calls "sizzling sisig," is by far the restaurant’s most popular dish. He serves over 100 pounds of pig ears and snouts a week.
The dish is really time-consuming to make. It has to be cooked three times — no shortcuts. Vats of ears, snout and pork belly are braised for three hours to render the fat out and tenderize the meat. Next, the braised ears and snout are grilled until charred; while the pork belly is deep-fried.
Then the pork parts are roughly chopped and mixed with onion, garlic, chili peppers, chicken liver, homemade infused garlic chilli and scallion vinegar and kalamansi juice — a type of citrus.
For that final “wow factor,” the dish is served in a hot cast iron pan which crisps the bottom layer of the meat — a texture that sisig is known for. Just before it’s sent out of the kitchen, the chef cracks an egg on top, so it cooks into the meat.
When the dish arrives at the table, it's sizzling, popping, and cracking. In one bite, you get a variety of textures and flavors: crunchy, spicy, tangy and meaty.
The sisig comes with garlic rice, but I also recommend ordering a side of their famous Spam fries or puki-puki, a smoked, warm eggplant dish. You can easily split this meal with two people.
Maharlika is at 111 First Avenue at 7th Street in Manhattan. For more dining recommendations, visit www.chow.com.