Sisig is a Filipino dish made from parts of pig head and liver, usually seasoned with calamansi and chili peppers.
Sisig was first mentioned in a Kapampangan dictionary in the 17th Century meaning “to snack on something sour” and “salad”. It usually refers to fruits, often unripe or half-ripe, sometimes dipped in salt and vinegar. It also refers to a method of preparing fish and meat, especially pork, which is marinated in a sour liquid such as lemon juice or vinegar, then seasoned with salt, pepper and other spices.
The origins of the word dates back to 1732, and was recorded by Augustinian friar Diego Bergaño in his Vocabulary of the Kapampangan Language in Spanish and Dictionary of the Spanish Language in Kapampangan. Bergaño defines sisig as a “salad, including green papaya, or green guava eaten with a dressing of salt, pepper, garlic and vinegar.” There is no mention of how long this cooking style has existed prior to the coming of the Spaniards during the Age of Conquest. The introduction of meat into the dish does not have an exact date as well. A sisig variation in Malolos using mushroom as the main ingredient, served with fried rice and egg. Locals believe that the addition of a pig’s head and innards in the dish came from “recycling” the excess meat from the commissaries of Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga. Pig heads were purchased cheap since they were not used in preparing meals for the U.S. Air Force personnel stationed there during the American Occupation of Luzon and Visayas.
Sisig still has many variations with recipes varying from city to city, and sometimes, family to family, in the Kapampangan province.