- Prep time 25 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour
- Serves 2 to 3
Sisig, a popular Filipino dish that’s often made with different parts of pork, has everything I want in a dish: salt, fat, acid, heat (Hi, Samin!), and crunch. In the Philippines, we order sisig as pulutan, or food to go along with drinks. Make it for a party, and I guarantee everyone will love you.
Traditionally, sisig is made with pork ears, belly, and sometimes even liver. In an essay for World Travel, Filipino chef and writer Claude Tayag notes that the first version of sisig, created in the 1700s, was a salad with green papaya, similar to atchara. The meat version of sisig came later, post-colonization, around the 1890s, to prevent food waste from the American commissaries in Pampanga.
In the 1970s, Aling Lucing from Angeles, Pampanga, popularized a grilled version that then inspired another Angeleno, Benedict Pamintuan, to serve it on a sizzling plate. It became so popular that Angeles became the sisig capital of the Philippines.
In an episode of No Reservations, you can see Anthony Bourdain enjoying a plate of sizzling sisig with a group of people over some beers. “I think sisig is perfectly positioned to win the hearts and minds of the world as a whole,” said Bourdain in an interview with CNN Philippines back in 2017. If this isn’t enough to convince you that sisig is one of the best Filipino dishes you can eat, I don’t know what will.
Since I started eating vegetarian, I've been trying to figure out how to create my ideal meatless version—without tofu or any processed meat replacement either. I thought about how to incorporate the different textures and flavors I loved in traditional sisig and found a solution in the chewy combination of king oyster mushrooms and regular oyster mushrooms. I particularly like how you can shred oyster mushrooms like you would any pulled meat.
This recipe serves 2 to 3, but is easily doubled if you're cooking for more people. I've omitted eggs (a typical addition to sisig) to make this vegan-friendly, but you can crack 1 large egg into the mushroom sisig just after it’s done cooking and mix it in or fry a couple of sunny-side-up eggs on the side to eat it with. I recommend squeezing over lime or calamansi juice just before serving, as opposed to while cooking, so the tanginess tastes fresh. When frying, make sure your oil is hot, to prevent moisture from coming out of the mushrooms—this will help them brown faster.
Serve the sisig while it’s hot in your cast-iron skillet to give it that sizzling plate feel, then add a couple slices of lime or calamansi, garnish with scallions, and eat it with steamed white rice. —Ria Elciario
potato starch (or cornstarch)
2 to 3 cups
(230 grams) oyster mushrooms, shredded with a fork into 2- to 3-inch pieces
untoasted sesame oil, divided
neutral oil, divided
6 or 7
(200 grams) king oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
red onion, finely chopped
garlic cloves, sliced
red chile, thinly sliced, with seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons
soy sauce, plus more as desired
mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
lime juice (from about about ½ lime)
scallions, chopped, for garnish
Lime wedges or halved calamansi, for serving
Steamed white rice (like calrose or jasmine), for serving
Fried sunny-side-up eggs, for serving (optional)
- Place the potato starch in a shallow dish and toss the shredded oyster mushrooms until coated.
- Cover the bottom of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with 2 tablespoons each of sesame and neutral oils, then heat over medium-high. At the same time, fill a 10-inch frying pan with about ¼ cup each of the neutral and sesame oils, then heat over medium-high. To check if the oil is hot enough, drop a piece of mushroom into both pans and see if the oil bubbles around it. If it does, you’re good to start frying. Note: It’s crucial for your oil to be hot to prevent the mushrooms from letting moisture out!
- In the frying pan with more oil, add enough pieces of the starch-coated oyster mushrooms to fill but not crowd the pan, about ¼ inch apart, and fry each side for 3 minutes or until slightly golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.
- At the same time, working in batches, add 1 cup of the chopped king oyster mushrooms and spread them out onto the cast-iron skillet (no need to toss) as much as you can. As they start to shrink, add more mushrooms and stir. Again, keep spacing them out as much as you can to prevent them from steaming.
- Once all of the king oyster mushrooms are in and shrunk a bit, let them cook undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes or until you start to see them brown, then mix. Repeat this process until most of the mushrooms are golden brown, then season with salt to taste.
- Meanwhile, once the starch-coated oyster mushrooms are cool enough to touch, roughly chop them, then transfer into a mixing bowl lined with a couple of paper towels and toss for 2 to 3 minutes to get rid of more excess oil that will come out after chopping. Season with salt to taste.
- Add the onions and garlic to the cast-iron skillet, then cook over medium-high, stirring every couple of minutes for 4 to 6 total minutes, until the onions and garlic are tender. Add the chile, soy sauce, and mayonnaise, then mix together for about a minute before adding the starch-coated oyster mushrooms and lime juice. Mix until everything is fully incorporated and cook together for a couple more minutes. Add more salt to taste. Note: Make sure to gently mix in a scoop-and-fold motion after adding the starch-coated oyster mushrooms to help prevent them from sticking too much and to maintain their crispiness.
- Garnish with scallions and a couple slices of lime or calamansi to squeeze just before eating. Serve with steamed white rice and fried eggs, if you’d like.