I didn’t grow up eating a lot of Filipino food (lumpia was my limit) so I hadn't had sisig until a few years ago. Sisig is basically crispy pork bits with chiles, onions, and citrus – like carnitas' cousin – so you can understand that I was instantly hooked on sisig tacos since I first tried them Senor Sisig’s food truck. Let it be known that this is a total riff and by no means authentic (cuz, I can't always find calamansi and coconut vinegar yet still want that sisig essence, you know?). But, it's got the sweet, spicy, smoky of sisig while also a lot healthier — as in made with chicken instead of pig and poached instead of fried — and a lot simpler. Most importantly, it can be made well ahead of time, so it's perfect for warm-weather entertaining – Filipino taco bar, anyone?
or sour cream
plus more for garnish
plus more for garnish
peeled and grated
sliced and seeded (if desired), optional
For the cilantro sauce: Combine the sour cream or yogurt, lime, cilantro, scallion, and a pinch of salt in a mini food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Taste and add more salt or lime as desired.
For the chicken: Season the chicken pieces all over with 1 tablespoon of the salt then place in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with the chiles, bay leaves, 3 of the garlic cloves, and peppercorns. Add just enough water to cover (about 6 cups) and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, then decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the liquid set aside until cool enough to handle. Discard the skin and bones, then shred meat into bite-sized pieces with two forks. Toss meat with a pinch of salt and set aside until ready to use.
The chicken can be prepared up to 2 days ahead; store it covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the sisig: Finely chop the remaining garlic then heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the shredded chicken and cook until crisp. Remove chicken to a plate then return the pan to the stove, add the butter, the onions and peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened. Add garlic, ginger, paprika, about 10 cranks of black pepper, and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds.
Add the pineapple juice, lime juice, vinegar, and soy sauce and cook until liquid reduced by 2/3, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and chiles (if using) and cook just until the sauce coats the bottom of the pan and the chicken. Serve in warmed tortillas, topped, as desired, with cilantro sauce, a squeeze of lime, chile-garlic sauce, and/or scallions.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp