A Filipino Crispy Tofu Sisig cooked with an aromatic blend of onions, garlic, peppers, and chiles. This is a hearty vegan take on the Filipino Kapampangan classic!
It’s delicious savoury and spicy with a bit of sourness and hint of sweetness.
What is Sisig?
Sisig is a very popular Filipino dish that originated from Pampanga in the island of Luzon.
It’s usually made out of pig ears, chicken liver, and often pork belly with lots of fat cooked with lots of aromatic garlic, onions, and chiles.
It’s also seasoned with something sour such as Calamansi (Philippine Lime) juice and seasoned with other spices.
This version is of course free from any animal products and by-products and is 100% vegan.
Sisig is also commonly served on a sizzling dish with some butter or margarine, so if you’d like that whole experience, you can of course heat up a sizzling plate or a small cast iron pan and add in some vegan butter or margarine before adding in your cooked tofu sisig!
Growing up with sisig
I did grow up really enjoying pork sisig growing up through, despite it (in my opinion) being one of the unhealthiest dishes you could eat especially some versions having lots of pig fat?
Anyway, whether you’re an omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan, I hope you enjoy this dish because my family loves a good crispy tofu sisig.
It’s also amazing how more and more Filipino restaurants are offering tofu sisig or sizzling tofu dishes in their menus these days.
Most of them do use non-vegan mayonnaise but they’re always willing to exclude this whenever possible.
Other variations of sisig
In the recent years, there have also emerged other versions of sisig—from fish, squid, and tofu sisig.
What makes sisig distinct is the main ingredient (tofu and mushrooms in this case) is usually cut up into very small bite-sized pieces you can easily scoop up with a spoon.
Preparing the Tofu and Mushrooms for this vegan sisig
For this vegan version, I of course used tofu with some mushrooms. I used extra firm tofu and simply pressed it to drain out the excess liquid.
Afterwards, I sliced the tofu into small 1/2-inch cubes. The smaller the better—so if you can slice even small, that’d be better.
I used fresh shiitake mushrooms but you’re free to use other mushrooms such as oyster, button, baby bella mushrooms, etc.
I also just sliced the mushrooms into very small pieces—almost minced.
Preparing the Sauce
For this version I of course used tofu and seasoned them with a mix of soy sauce and veg oyster sauce, calalmansi (Philippine lime) juice, a bit of sugar, and pepper.
Calamansi really has a distinct flavour, unlike regular limes, and despite their tiny size they pack a really flavourful and very sour punch.
Though if you don’t have access to fresh or packaged calamansi juice, feel free to use lemon juice.
Overall the sauce is a perfect balance of savoury and sour with a hint of sweetness.
It’s a personal preference but I personally enjoy sisig with lots of calamansi juice so I tend to squeeze a lot more calamansi juice after cooking.
The chiles give the dish a really good spicy kick and also that extra fragrance. I wouldn’t recommend skipping the chilies!
If you’d like to lessen the heat, you can remove the seeds from the chiles and simply chop up the flesh to add in this dish.
I used sling labuyo (photographed above), which is similar to bird’s eye chilies and Thai chilies, but are hotter.
Be careful when chopping and deseeding your chiles!
When working with chilies, make sure not to touch them directly because the heat can transfer to your hands and when you touch your face it’d be really hot! I’d recommend just holding them by their stems or wearing gloves.
I personally enjoy my sisig with a little mayonnaise, but not too much that it’s overly thick and creamy. Just enough that the mayonnaise beautifully melts and coats the sisig when it’s in the pan. It also of course gives that added layer or richness and flavour.
COOKING THE SISIG
Cooking the sisig is very simple and it really helps to have all your ingredients prepared before you start.
You’ll also just need 1 large pan.
I would recommend using a non-stick pan if you’d like to use less oil or pan-fry the tofu cubes instead of deep frying them in oil. Alternatively, you can cook this on a cast iron pan so you can serve it on a sizzling hot plate, as how it’s usually served in Filipino restaurants.
Here’s what you need to do:
- 1. Heat your large pan over high heat. Add some vegan butter or oil to coat the surface of the pan.
- 2. When hot, add in the tofu cubes. The tofu cubes should immediately sizzle when you add them in the oil. Sprinkle some salt over the tofu cubes.
- 3. Leave the tofu cubes to cook over medium high until golden brown, around 4 to 5 minutes. You may beed to flip them over if pan-frying them. Repeat until all the sides are golden brown and crisp.
- 4. Remove the tofu from the oil then set aside. Drain the excess oil form the pan.
- 5. Strainer on top that I use to store my oil. Since tofu are very neutral, I can still use this oil for another 1-2 times.
- 6. Add in 1-2 tbsp of oil on the same pan. Over high heat, sauté the onion for 1 minute.
- 7. Add in the garlic, then sauté for another minute.
- 8. Add in the chiles and peppers and cook for 1-2 minutes until tender
- 9. Add in the diced mushrooms and cook for 1 minute over high heat.
- 10. Afterwards, add in the crispy tofu.
- 11. Pour in the sauce mix and lower to medium high heat. Mix everything together.
- 12. Season with more vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce, if needed. Mix well.
- 13. Add in the vegan mayonnaise and give everything a good mix until the mayonnaise has beautiful coated the tofu.
- 14. Turn off the heat and serve while hot on a sizzling plate, if you’d like that whole experience. If using a sizzling plate or cast iron pan, you can simply heat this over direct heat. Once hot and smoking, turn off the heat add 1/2 tbsp of vegan butter until melted.
- 15. Add in the cooked sisig into the sizzling pan.
- 16. Squeeze with some more calamansi or lemon juice, if you’d like. Enjoy with rice!