Sisig, that traditional Kapampangan dish of chopped pig cheeks and ears served on a sizzling plate, has been adapted into most any protein you can think of. I’ve heard of chicken and beef sisig, and have tasted bangus, squid, tuna, and the unforgettable lechon kawali sisig. But one version that is quickly becoming as popular as the original is a surprisingly vegetarian-friendly one: tofu sisig.
While a lot of local restaurants now include sizzling tofu sisig on their menus, it never occurred to me to try cooking it, mostly because it sounded difficult to cook. So when Kate from It’s All About the Meow shared how easy it was, I knew I had to try it.
You start with a block of tofu. Local tokwa is fine, so is Japanese regular tofu. Slice into 1-cm cubes. Smaller means munchier sisig. Larger means mealier. I suggest starting with 1-cm, then adjust next time you cook. Because trust me, once you’ve tried this, you’ll want to cook it again. And again. And again until soybeans start oozing out of your pores.
Deep-fry in a few inches of very hot oil. Do not be afraid of oil. Oil will not hurt you if you don’t let it. Be sure your tofu is drained of excess moisture. Drop a few cubes at a time at a low height. Do not drop from far away; it will splatter. Add as much cubes as your oil and pot can take without overcrowding. (This is not the MRT.) Be sure everything’s covered in oil. It is tempting, but do not agitate your tofu. Doing so before the tofu has set may cause it to crumble. Wait until it’s a bit crusty before you move your tofu cubes around. Fry until lightly golden for a light thin crispy exterior but mealy interior. Drain.
Saute garlic and onion in a little oil. Add your chilis. Keep the seeds to keep things spicy. Remove them if you want your sisig mild. I usually let it sweat a bit until the flavors meld. Then, throw in your fried tofu cubes.
Swish it around. Add the seasoning and calamansi juice, then stir until the tofu’s coated evenly. Turn the fire off. You can transfer it to a sizzling plate then serve, adding the mayonnaise before serving, or do what I do. I let it rest in a pan for a minute, then add the mayonnaise, tossing lightly just until the sauce is a wonderfully creamy beige. Or at least, it doesn’t look like raw mayonnaise anymore. Serve.
Offer more seasoning, calamansi, and siling labuyo at the table, like you would pork sisig, but if you do this right, everyone will probably just ignore them because they’re too busy heaping rice on their plate.
Tofu Sisig v. 15 September 2014
- 2 blocks tofu, diced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, chopped (I use red.)
- 4-6 green finger chilis, sliced (Adjust amount to taste.)
- 3 Tbsp liquid seasoning (I use Knorr.)
- 1 Tbsp calamansi or lemon juice
- 6 Tbsp mayonnaise
- oil for deep-frying and sauteing.
- Deep-fry tofu until lightly golden. Drain.
- Saute garlic, onion, and chili in a tablespoon or two of oil.
- Add fried tofu.
- Add seasoning and lemon juice.
- Remove from heat. Let it rest for a minute, then add mayonnaise.
- Toss lightly to sop up pan sauces, then transfer to a serving plate.