What is Longanisa?
It is a typical Filipino food, with Spanish and Malay influences. It is part of the school lunch menus in the Philippines. It is a famous street or morning market food served alongside “pusông saging” (banana from Philippine plantain) and hot rice gruel (“sinangag”). It can be found in most countries where there are Filipino migrant communities such as Saudi Arabia, United States, Canada, Italy, Spain, Dubai, etc. However, it tastes slightly different from those made in the Philippines because other countries do not seem to be able to get tamarind sauce right.
Longanisa comes in many varieties depending on each family’s style of cooking it. Varieties include: “longganisa de lechon” (with added fat from the roasted pig), “longganisa Vigan” (with shredded ginger), and many more. It is usually served as an appetizer, with white rice.
It is made up of ground pork mixed with paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, salt, and other spices depending on each maker’s preference, then stuffed into a casing such as hog casings or synthetic casings if not available.
The mixture is commonly stuffed into a casing and formed either into links or patties; however, it can also be consumed without a casing, such as in Filipino dishes like Arrozcaldo (Filipino congee). If there is any remaining mix after stuffing into the casing, it can be fried with chopped garlic and eaten with rice.
Longanisa is often cooked over an open flame or charcoal grill on a stick, like a barbecue. It is also commonly pan-fried in cooking oil (although deep frying is common as well). When served, it is traditionally placed on top of white rice; however, some may prefer to eat it wrapped in a thin slice of bread called “pandesal” (or sometimes “burger bread”) instead. The mixture of longanisa may be stuffed into some slices of bread that are then toasted or grilled like a sandwich for additional variety.
Let’s Get Started
Of course, it starts with choosing the right type of pork meat. Usually, people use pork butt or belly part. Both are equally good but if you want a healthier option, choose tenderloin or chop meat instead of using pork belly, which contains higher fat content. Some prefer using beef because it’s cheaper than pork and tastes like Lechon kawali, but real men should choose pork, especially when cooking longanisa because “game face” is required to cook Lechon kawali and longanisa. For those who don’t know, cooking longanisa is like a sport in the Philippines because you need a “game face” and a meat cleaver.
- As for me, I use pork neck or neck meat to make my cooking easier. From my experience, the neck part of the animal has more collagen than other parts, making your sauce tasty and glistening.
- 2nd ingredient that will make your cooking taste good is garlic salt. Make sure that you put enough garlic salt in because it gives salty flavor and enhances the sweetness of your sausages.
- 3rd ingredient is water. Pour enough amount of water into your cooking pot and place it on high heat. Make sure that the meat is submerged in water. Adding water to your cooking will make your sausages moist and juicy which you don’t usually experience when purchasing longanisa from the market.
- 4th ingredient is banana catsup or tomato sauce. You can add one teaspoon of banana catsup per pound of meat. Banana catsup enhances the flavor of pork fat and gives it a little sour taste for better-tasting sausage.
- 5th ingredient is ground black pepper. Add � teaspoon of ground black pepper per pound of meat and mix thoroughly with all ingredients. I do not recommend using coarsely ground black pepper because it’s strong and can be too overwhelming for your longanisa.
How to Cook Longanisa?
The real challenge of cooking longanisa is how to cook the meat until crispy brown without overcooking it. Usually, people would always overcook their sausages which makes it hard and dry. To achieve a better crust on your sausages that will make you look like a professional cook in front of your family, use indirect heat when cooking your sausages. Instead of putting the fire directly below or at the side of your cooking pot, place your fire opposite from where you place the cooking pot so that heat will only come from underneath or the top part of the pot. This way, even if you let food stay in your cooking pot, it will not overcook or burn.
What if you don’t have banana catsup? Is banana catsup not available in your country? No problem! It can be substituted with tomato sauce. The result should taste similar to each other. The only difference is that banana catsup has sugar, giving it a slightly sweet taste, while tomato sauce does not have any sugar.
While most people would stop when they see their longanisa cooked until brown, I recommend applying another step for even better-tasting sausages. Remove the fire and place the cooking pot inside the oven so that all parts of your longanisa will be exposed equally under high heat, like when you toast bread in a toaster oven. This way, you can achieve a better crust and uniform color on your sausages, making them taste even more delicious.
As for me, I like putting oil or margarine in my cooking pot while cooking longanisa because it enhances the flavor of my sausages and makes them glistening when cooked. I also use palm oil to give it brownish color for added presentation, which is essential for fiesta dishes. If you like simple food, omit these ingredients but if you want to make “fancy” looking longganisa or Lechon kawali, add one teaspoon of either oil or margarine inside your cooking pot before adding meat.
One last secret ingredient that not all people know is baking soda. Add one teaspoon of baking soda per pound of meat to make longanisa “pulutan” tuyo style. Baking soda will not only keep your sausages drier and fresher but also gives them a crispy texture after cooking.
Some people would use peppercorns when cooking their longanisa, which is wrong because pepper makes the sauce less tasty and can give it a bitter taste. You should also avoid using garlic salt and ground black pepper during the same time unless you like putting too much flavors on your sausage; there’s such thing as too much of a good thing! When combining different seasonings, always remember that balance is key.
You can now serve delicious tasting homemade longganisa with a side dish of atchara or pickle.