Thursday, November 17, 2011

Next Food Network Star audition and my tofu sisig recipe

I love sisig? 
Ok, so the name of my blog probably throws visitors off a bit. So I guess it's time to explain the name and logo behind all the magic. Sisig to me, represents the ultimate pulutan food...or finger foods eaten with alcohol and more specifically beer. It's crunchy, fatty, salty, sour, spicy, sweet and even a bit bitter. Almost representing every single thing I like about Filipino cuisine. And I love everything about Filipino food and what it that's where the heart in my logo comes from. Now the spoon in the fork symbolizes the big ass spoon and forks that are on every, ok maybe not every, Filipino households wall. Mine does at least! So there you have it. The story behind the name.

For an authentic sisig recipe and great write up on the origins and variations of sisig, read @CzarinaCleo article "How to Cook Sisig - Authentic Filipino Recipe Perfect with Beer"

The Challenge
I do live in Bay Area and we all know that we do things a bit different out here. So different and unique that the first ever vegan Filipino restaurant, No Worries,  was opened in Oakland to much success. It was the first time, I have ever experience Filipino food without having to eat real meat or seafood. This entire year, Twitter has really introduced me to great groups of people, especially food bloggers and foodies. Actually, because of social media, the first annual AstigVegan Challenge was born. The challenge for the competitors was to create a dish that was Filipino inspired but totally vegan. Ok, no problem right? Right? I'll just get some soy protein, simmer it in soy sauce vinegar with some garlic, bay leaves and pepper corn and presto...adobo! But that's the obvious type of $#!% you would expect. I wanted to come out and represent the foodie in me and also my brand! Yup....according to one of my Foodbuzz Festival blogger sessions, my blog is my brand. So vegan sisig it was. (OK, i wanted to get fancy, so I also came up with vegan binagoognan with vegan bagaoong conjured up by my good friend, Chef Dom Ainza of Mercury Lounge - recipe to follow later...I promise!)

Next Food Network Star meets Dinner impossible meets possible disaster
In order to have the texture and crunch that was needed for my recipe, I knew that the sisig had to be finished and plated at the event. Did, I mention that the potluck was outdoor at a park, with no outlets? No problem, they do it all the time on TV. So off we go, well after having deep fryer issues and packing up tables, catering trays and a whole bunch of necessary items. Did I mention that I forgot to pack some important utensils! Luckily RG had some to lend.

Didn't realize it was going to be a demo! yikes

So after an hour and a half  of traffic, we arrived a few hours late and just in time to do a cooking demo. Wasn't planned but since I was the last person there and all of the other dishes already eaten, my first official cooking demo was scheduled! Luckily my bro-in law John was on hand to lend his culinary expertise and food prep skills during the demo.

added pressure from tweeter @R1Chsy
Coming up with the recipe was easier than I thought. The night before, we tried a couple of different techniques like batter and panko, but we decided to keep it simple.

2 packages of Extra Firm tofu - use more if you have a large party
1 onion diced
1 bundle of cilantro (chopped)
2 medium sized jalapenos (julienned)
1/2 cup of Sukang Maasim (cane vinegar)
1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce
Philippine sea salt (I had some so I used it)
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
Fresh Calamansi - the more the better.

Drain the liquid out of the tofu packages and slice into 1/2 inch patties. Using a deep fryer set to 375 without the basket, place your tofu patties into your oil until crispy and golden. (We deep fried our tofu before we left of course) Feel free to pan fry your tofu if a deep fryer isn't an option. Now set aside to dry and make sure to salt to taste. Now mix all your ingredients together, minus the onions, in a large bowl and marinate for a few minutes. In a large pan, saute your onions for approximately 5 minutes.(You can saute for less if you want a bitter taste) Finally, mix in the rest of the ingredients and heat for about 2 minutes. Presto you are ready to serve! Depending on your taste, you can add calamansi to your marinade as well. You can never go wrong with calamansi and sisig.

30 seconds remaining!
Finishing with the calamansi
So in less than a hour, we set up, cooked, plated and served. I must admit, there was a ton of pressure especially with people over your shoulder and in your face. We were too late for the judging but definitely in time to share and satisfy peoples bellies. And that's what I love about sisig. It's meant to be shared and enjoy with family, friends and even a few strangers.

First time vegan and filipino food diners
Time to eat
The event was awesome and it was great to meet  RG of AstigVegan and share food with all the attendees. I can't wait till our next event, who knows...maybe I'll try to do a vegan lechon kawali. Check back soon for my vegan binagoongan recipe. BTW, I will definitely not be trying out for The Next Food Network Star. It wouldn't be fair :)

Vegan binagoognan photo courtesy of AstigVegan
Astig Vegan
twitter: @astigvegan


  1. Lechon Kawali??? Ok we're having the next potluck SOON! hehe

    I'm so glad you made it to the event and shared a wonderful demo and recipe to us. Twas a blast.

    Maraming Salamat and Mabuhay to "I Love Sisig"!

  2. I will visit California just to participate in your potluck. Vegan lechon kawali, vegan sisig, vegan binagoongan?! I'm so there!

  3. @astigvegan, lets do a potluck during the holidays. Vegan potluck/white elephant party! So glad we got connected. Thanks for pushing healthier and responsible eating.

  4. Marzz,

    I hope you aren't too far from us! Maybe we can do an online satellite dinner event where we share our recipes and dishes with our friends and family. Then we all do realtime tweets and blogs!

  5. I'm down! Let's do it =) Oh how I wish Marzz can join us also!

  6. I really want to do more health conscious events and posts about Filipino food. What's hard is I really want to reach out to the Filipino community about their eating habits. We are stubborn as a culture and conservative in nature. Change is hard for many and it takes a stroke, heart attack, diabetes diagnosis or death in order for people to change their bad habits. My last post about using steel cut oats instead of sticky rice got me a ton of hate mail! Anyway, you get my point. I'm glad you guys care.

  7. Please continue the effort, Filipinos will come around and thank you later for it =)

  8. Red Horse plus Sisig!!! Most Filipinos' favorite!

  9. The best Pampanga Food Trip! even in the States, love this dish. Thanks for sharing