Today we are veganizing the famous Kapampangan dish, sisig! Tofu Sisig is made with crispy tofu mixed with spicy peppers and other aromatics and is packed with so much flavor! Crispy tofu is used in place of meat but don’t let that fool you; it’s crispy, delicious, and easy to prepare.
What is Sisig?
Sisig is a dish that originated in the Philippines. The dish gets its name from the old Tagalog word “sisigan,” which means “to make it sour.” The earliest recording of the dish dates back to a Kapampangan dictionary in 1732. Back then, sisig was defined to be “a salad including green papaya or green guava eaten with a dressing of salt, pepper, garlic, and vinegar.” The sourness was thought to suppress vomiting and was used as a cure for hangovers and nausea.
Modern-day sisig, however, is credited to Lucia Cunanan in the mid-1970s. She was a Filipino restaurateur based in Angeles City. The sourness from which the dish took its name no longer took center stage with her dish. In its place, the crunchiness of the fried meat with the creaminess of other ingredients came to define her sisig. Because of her creation, Angeles City is now known as the “Sisig Capital of the Philippines.”
Sisig uses different parts from a pig, simmers them in water, then fried until crispy. Next, the mixture is spiced with peppers and citrus (calamansi), mixed with eggs, onion, and sometimes mayo. Although pig is typically the default protein for sisig, many other variations exist, including the tofu sisig that we are making today!
Nowadays, sisig has become one of our most famous exports of the Philippines and can be found all over the globe. Renowned chefs like Anthony Bourdain have featured sisig on their mainstream food shows, and there is even a festival dedicated to sisig in Pampanga. (Info from Pepper.ph)
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Tofu Sisig
Extra-firm tofu: We like to use extra-firm tofu for this recipe, but firm should also work. We also recommend pressing your tofu to remove excess moisture to ensure maximum flavor. To press tofu, you can either use a store-bought tofu press or use this method here.
Cornstarch: This will help get our tofu extra crispy and allow our sauce to get nice and thick.
Soy sauce: Soy sauce has two applications in this recipe. First, soy sauce is used to marinate the tofu before frying. Second, soy sauce is used in the sauce to add a salty and umami flavor.
Oil: We like to use a high-heat neutral oil like avocado oil for pan-frying.
Broth: Vegetable broth is used as a base for our sisig sauce. You can use either homemade vegetable broth, bullion paste or cubes, or a store-bought liquid veggie broth.
Vinegar: We recommend using white vinegar for this recipe. Bringing an acidic element to our sauce will help balance all flavors. Regular rice vinegar will also work if you don’t have white vinegar.
Sugar: If you want to ensure that the sugar being used is vegan-friendly, make sure it’s organic. We like to use the Wholesome brand.
Spices: to elevate the other flavors in this dish, we add salt, white pepper, and black pepper.
Aromatics: Simple yet essential aromatic flavor base to start this dish right. This dish includes garlic, ginger, onions, peppercorns, and bay leaves.
Chili peppers: You could use any peppers of your choice for this dish. We used a mix of jalapeños, Thai chilies, and bell peppers.
Mushrooms: We opted for baby Bella mushrooms for this dish, but any mushroom of your choice should work. Mushroom adds a layer of umami flavor and a great additional texture to the sisig.
Vegan mayonnaise: To imitate the creaminess of nonvegan sisig typically derived from animal products, we used mayonnaise instead. It adds a creamy texture and another layer of fattiness that makes the dish extra delectable.
Calamansi juice: Also known as calamondin, Philippine lime, or Philippine lemon, is a vital citrus hybrid cultivated in the Philippines. The flavor can be described as a tart combination of lemon, lime, and orange. If you don’t have access, opt for lemon or lime.
Vegan Chicharrón: This ingredient is optional but recommended if you have access to it. It adds a great crunch to the dish when serving and an extra kick of salt. We like to use the Vegetari brand.
Today we are veganizing the famous Kapampangan dish, sisig! This recipe is made with crispy tofu mixed with spicy peppers and other aromatics and is packed with so much flavor! Crispy tofu is used in place of meat but don’t let that fool you; it’s crispy, delicious, and easy to prepare.
1–2 jalapeños, chopped (with seeds removed if desired)
2 Thai chilies, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
6 oz. baby bell mushrooms (or a variety of choice), finely diced
1/2 tablespoon grated ginger (packed)
2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon calamansi juice (or lime or lemon juice)
½ cup green onion
Optional: 1/3 cup vegan Chicharrón, crumbled (I used Vegetari)
Salt, as needed to taste
Press the tofu. Once pressed, cut into small cubes and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the soy sauce, salt, white pepper, and gently mix. Sprinkle over half of the cornstarch, mix, add the second half, and mix. Set aside.
In a large pan over medium-low, add the oil. Once heated, fry the peppercorns and bay leaves until the bay leaves begin to brown. Remove them and discard.
Add the tofu cubes and fry until golden. Remove the fried tofu from the pan and set it aside.
To a small bowl, mix the vegetable broth, soy sauce, white vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
In the same pan that you fried the tofu, with the excess oil over medium heat, add in the garlic, all but 3 tbsp of the red onion, peppers, and a pinch of salt. Add additional oil as needed. Sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and ginger, and cook until the mushrooms are soft and reduced in size.
Mix in the sauce mixture and cooked tofu. Season with additional salt as needed.
Add the vegan mayonnaise, reserved red onion, calamansi juice, and green onion.
Top with vegan Chicharrón crumbles and enjoy!
If preferred, white or yellow onion can be used in place of the red onion.
We like to use extra-firm tofu for this recipe, but firm should also work.
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