I want to share with you what I consider the greatest pork dish in the world. It is called sisig, and it is made by the folks at Magic Wok, a Filipino restaurant in Artesia -- a city I want to nominate as an honorary member of Orange County, simply because Magic Wok is in it.
Their speciality of the house has long been the crispy pata; a whole hind leg of a pig, brined, boiled and deep-fried into a crackle raunchier than a thousand pork rinds. But last year, around the same time they recovered from a fire that nearly destroyed this preferred dining destination for Southland Filipino food lovers, Magic Wok introduced a dish, nay, a porcine opus, that bested its crispy pata on succulence.
This dish is sisig.
Traditionally in the old country, sisig is made with meat chipped off a pig's face, and can include some offal, even brains. One recipe I found for the dish begins with "Grill pork head to remove hair." After that, it gets even more archaic.
Although Magic Wok's rendition does not involve a pig's head (that I know of), it is still a long distance away from your mama's Tuesday night pork chops.
This is dish of pork for those unafraid of pork. Only true carnivores who don't cower at the thought of consuming a little, no, make that a lot of fat, should consider it for their supper.
The reason? On every other spoonful of this porky hash, you will encounter a slip of quivering pig blubber, stuck to the underside of a crispy shard of skin here; next to a crunchy chunk of meat there.
It will slick your lips to a glossy shine. It will make you shudder and moan in ecstasy. It will make you thank the heavens for creating this "magical, wonderful animal" for us mortals to enjoy.
But the most compelling part about Magic Wok's sisig is that it is a dastardly simple dish, with little more than a few ingredients that make up its composition.
They start by plunging the meat and its attached skin and fat in hot oil. During the cooking, some of the fat renders off, leaving behind a crusty mahogany crunch that harkens an alliance between bacon and chicharrones. Imagine a whole, deep-fried pork belly done in this manner, and you get the idea of its inherent decadence.
The hunk is lifted out, cooled slightly, and then hacked up into fingertip-sized fragments before being tossed with a liberal squeeze of citrus juice, diced fresh ginger, a few bits of onion and peppers for color.
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Then you eat. And you eat. And you eat, until there is no more.
If you are prone to addiction, or even if you are not, you will be addicted. Why? Eventhough sisig is made of 99% pork, thanks to the sourness of the citrus and the refreshing bite of the ginger, it is extraordinarily light on the palate. You never get sick of it.
Since its richness never becomes cloying, you end up gorging on the sisig with careless and unchecked abandon; until before you know it, you start looking a little like a pig yourself.
Magic Wok (562) 865-7340 11869 Artesia Blvd Artesia, CA 90701