I blew it at Coachella this year. The first night, the abnormally frigid weather and high winds had me running home before the night was over. The second day, I found myself in a fashion versus function dilemma and walked too many miles in sky high heels. And the final day, a case of overly aggressive pool partying caused me to cart home my cohorts around sunset so that I missed out on the much-talked-about Tupac Shakur hologram.
Though I failed in the festival-going department, I had the food dialed in. Since I’m the most experienced of our crew when it comes to the kitchen, I take charge of the weekend’s menu. And over the 6 years I’ve attended, I’ve learned a few things about what makes perfect festival food.
Namely: a) Cook way more food than needed because the number of people I feed changes daily as our friends often have sleepovers with newfound friends b) Cook even more than way more food so there are plenty of leftovers for late-night nosh sessions c) Make something that gets tastier as it sits so I can cook it first thing and have people lunch whenever they please d) Make something that doesn’t require an oven because it gets seriously hot in the desert and the oven only makes it more unbearable e) Makes something that is low maintenance so I can hang poolside instead of slaving at the stove.
As you could guess, slow-cooker and braised recipes are the optimal solution because they allow me to make plenty of meat for my brother’s army of guy friends — jokingly nicknamed the Bro-chella crew. This year’s menu included Hawaiian-style Shoyu Chicken, Jerk Sliders, Carnitas, and finally, these sisig tacos.
I didn’t grow up eating a lot of Filipino food but have come to love sisig since I first tried Senor Sisig’s Filipino-style sisig taco. Taking a page from the food truck, I concocted this recipe that is by not means authentic but is a lot healthier — it’s made with chicken instead of pig and poached instead of fried — and seriously simple. Most importantly, it can be made well ahead of time, so I can lounge poolside while everyone fuels up for the festival.
Sizzling Chicken Sisig Tacos Recipe
- Makes: 8 to 10 servings//10 tacos
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Hands-On Time: 25 minutes
- For the chicken:
- 3 pounds mixed bone-in chicken pieces, skin on
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 dried arbol chiles
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoon peppercorns
- For the sisig:
- 2 tablespoons canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil
- 1 small yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup)
- 3 bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow), minced (about 3 1/2 cups)
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup 100% pure pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- For the tacos:
- 10 (6-inch) tortillas, for serving
- Crema or sour cream, for serving
- Chile-garlic sauce, for serving
- Cilantro, for serving
- For the chicken:
Season the chicken with the salt then place in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with the chiles, bay leaves, garlic, and peppercorns. Add just enough water to cover (about 4 cups) and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, then decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the liquid set aside until cool enough to handle. Discard the skin and bones, then shred meat into bite-sized pieces with two forks. Toss meat with a pinch of salt and set aside until ready to use.
- For the sisig:
Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat. When it shimmers, add onions and peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, paprika, black pepper, and cook until fragrant, another 2 minutes.
Add the pineapple juice, lemon juice, vinegar, and soy sauce and cook until liquid reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Stir in the chicken and cook until heated through and the sauce is mostly reduced but still coats the bottom of the pan and the chicken, about 3 more minutes.
Serve on warmed tortillas, topped, as desired, with crema, chili-garlic sauce, and cilantro.