Hello Everyone! After spending the past month in the Philippines, I thought that it’d be a good idea to share some of the foods that I came across and ate along the way. A classic dish that I will be sharing with you is the very famous Crispy Pata, or Deep-fried Pork Leg. Crispy Pata can be found in most eating places in the Philippines; one place that we dined at while staying Lucena City specialises in this dish and is even called Bubbles Crispy Pata & Restaurant. I remember the first time I came here with my cousins from the Barrientos side, my cousin JR joked about ordering a crispy para dish EACH. I think we ended up ordering one between two people, which, looking back, in my opinion is still quite a lot to eat between two; but just like me, he loves him some crispy pata. What I love about this very simple dish, is the crispy skin and of course the very tender meat beneath that layer of crispy goodness.
As you probably would’ve already figured out from my description above, and the photographs, Crispy Pata is a famous Filipino pork dish that uses a whole pig’s leg. The leg (or pata) is made tender by simmering in water along with other spices, mainly peppercorns and bay leaves. It is then deep-fried until the texture becomes very crunchy. The dish is then served with various dipping sauces, the main being a soy-vingear sauce with chopped onions, or along with some pickled green papaya known as atchara, served as either a main dish with steamed rice, or as beer food known as pulutan.
Crispy Pata is definitely an easy dish to cook, but be cautious as the process does involve dangerous steps. Deep frying a whole leg can cause the hot oil to be uncontrollable. It is a must to slightly (not fully, as the cover can pop-up due to pressure) cover the cooking pot while frying. What my mom does is that instead of submerging the whole leg in scalding hot oil, she adds enough oil to submerge at least half of the leg and fries it for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. She then cautiously turns the leg and fries the other side for the same amount of time in medium heat until it becomes crispy. This is quite possibly one of the reasons why I only ever have crispy pata at a restaurant or when I’m home and my mom is there to do it for me – I don’t like the frying process!
PREP TIME 24 HOURS* | COOKING TIME 2 HOURS 30 MINS | SERVES 4
*Includes setting aside the boiled pork leg in the fridge overnight to draw out the moisture before deep-frying.
- 1 whole pig’s leg (about 2 or 2.5kg)
- 12 to 15 cups water
- 8 to 12 cups cooking oil
- 6 pcs dried bay leaves
- 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 & 1/2 tsp salt
For the soy dipping sauce
- 1/3 cup dark soy sauce
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 small tomato, diced
- Juice of two calamansi**
For the vinegar dipping sauce
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 red bird’s eye chillies, halved
- Whole peppercorns
**Calamansi (or calamondin), is a hybrid between a mandarin orange and a kumquat. It is widely cultivated in the Philippines and primarily used in cooking to flavour foods and drinks. If calamansi isn’t available, you may substitute it with lemon or lime, but the taste will not be the same. I can’t say exactly what the difference in taste is, but I think calamansi is a tad more sour than a lemon/lime, and has a slight orange taste to it.
- Pour water into a large cooking pot along with the bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the whole pork leg and simmer under mediumm-high heat until the leg becomes tender (about 1.5 to 2 hours).
- Remove the tender leg from the cooking pot, transfer to a plate large enough to fit it and set aside until the temperature goes down. Once it has cooled down, place a clean cloth above the leg and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge a few hours before cooking to bring it back to room temperature. Some recipes I’ve seen don’t require you to refrigerate the meat, I do it so that it draws out excess moisture from the leg.
- At this point you may want to rub on some different spices such as garlic powder, ground black pepper, and salt onto the skin. If you do, let it stand for 15 minutes for the leg to absorb the rub. If you don’t want to season it any further, which is what I did, then you can move onto frying.
- Heat a clean large cooking pot (preferably with cover), over high heat and pour the cooking oil in. When the oil becomes hot, turn the heat down to medium high. Carefully lower the leg into the hot oil and deep fry. Cook until one side becomes brown and crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes, and then cautiously flip the leg to brown and crisp the other side. Be extra careful in doing this procedure.
- Turn the heat off and remove the crispy pork leg. Transfer it to a wide serving plate.
- Combine all the ingredients together for the separate dipping sauces dance serve together with the crispy pata!
– Ally xx