Sensational ‘Silog’

Lori BaltazarClassic Pinoy fave: Tapsilog. Don't forget the vinegar!

I'm amused that there's a food truck in California called the "Wow Silog Truck." It serves five types of silogs from tapsilog to corned beef silog. At US$6 per plate, it's a hefty price for something so easily found in any Filipino's home. But that's nostalgia for you.

The Filipino's penchant for slang extends to breakfast where the formula for a typical Filipino breakfast is itlog (eggs, usually fried) + sinangag (fried rice) + a meat (the more processed, the better). Thus, the traditional silogs are tosilog (tocino), tapsilog (tapa), longsilog (longganisa), to the more newfangled versions like Spamsilog (what else but Spam), bangsilog (bangus), and cornbisilog (corned beef; okay, this one is a stretch). I've even heard of litsilog (lechon), and friedchixsilog (fried chicken). Can there be any food that doesn't go well with a fried egg and fried rice?

The key to silog meals is that the ingredients are simple, usually leftovers from the night before; they're easy to cook (it is breakfast after all), and that there be plenty of day (days!)-old rice lying around. Whichever silog you choose, it's imperative that there be plenty of good cheek-puckering vinegar to dunk your chosen protein in. It isn't a Filipino breakfast without all the condiments.

Just for fun, here's, a line-up of some silog meals at a popular restaurant up north.

The original will always be the best. Beef Tapa is dried cured beef but you'd never know it sometimes by the amount of sauce (or oil) that it sits in. Also, the fancier the restaurant, the higher the proclivity to use more premium meats like Angus beef or sirloin. Beef tapa is traditionally cured with rock salt and then dried under the sun. Of course modern lifestyles and manufacturing methods have facilitated the need to expedite the process so most commercially available beef tapas are cured but skip the drying process.

Tapa is fried and is at its lip-smacking best when eaten with lots of vinegar.  Other meats are also used to make tapa such as carabao (tapang kalabaw), deer (tapang usa), and wild boar (tapang baboy ramo).

Longganisa (various spellings thereof) are our local sausages. Each region has its own characteristically flavored longganisa depending on the spices used, with some regions producing now-famous varieties such as those from Vigan and Laoag.

Lori BaltazarLongsilog features sausages from the different regions

Longganisas in the Philippines are generally categorized as hamonado (sweet/matamis) and derecado (garlicky/ mabawang). At the Baguio City Market, there's an area where strings of longganisa hang like distended Christmas lights. Bestselling varieties include the super garlicky versions like the Laoag/Vigan derecado, and the sweeter, more kid-friendly Baguio hamonado. These are all boiled before frying to let off some of the fat. It's also here at this market where shorter, more squat longganisas are available, and they're called shortganiza.


Lori BaltazarBaconsilog... the new generation of 'silogs'?

A favorite among kids because really, what kid doesn't like bacon? The Western version perhaps of tocino because they're both cured pork, this is what this particular restaurant calls their Continental Breakfast. Crispy bacon makes a pleasing textural counterpoint to the soft rice shot through with cloves of toasted garlic.
Deboned bangus (milkfish) is so easily available now and it comes in several variations too from marinated to spicy. These are the best types to use for bangsilog since all one has to do is rip open a pack and fry it up.

Note the crispy edges but runny center of the fried egg!

This silog variant is especially appetizing when eaten with sides of tomato slices and a runny fried egg. And don't forget the vinegar!

Lori Baltazar is the whiz behind the popular food blog, Dessert Comes First.

Editor's Note: There's a world of 'silogs' out there, from the classic to the new.  Share with us what your favorites are in the comments below!


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