Vigan Longaniza

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A sausage is just a sausage. But a chorizo is a kick in the ass. That’s my motto. I live by that, and my new found religion.

Yes, I said religion.

With a respectful nod to Paul Kahan (owner of The Publican in Chicago), I now believe there to be a holy trinity: pork, oysters, and beer. I could live the rest of my life on just those three things if I had to. Albeit a short life, but a happy life nonetheless. When it comes to pork, it plays a major role in my weekly menu.

At some point during the 80’s, America had a massive brain fart and gave pork a bad rap. People stopped eating it and pigs around the country had one big swine party. Then the Pork Council started running commercials telling everyone it was OK to eat pork again. They even called it “The other white meat.” Party’s over, piggies. You’re back on the menu.

As far as I’m concerned, pork in any form is great. But ground up, mixed with spices, then stuffed in hog casings, it becomes something else altogether. It becomes a meal in a tube.

I’ve been enjoying variations of sausage for years. Living where I do, I’m treated to varieties from all over the world. Yes, there are the sausages for everyman: Italian sweet & hot sausage, bratwurst from Germany, bangers from England, boudin noir from France. But chorizo is in a class all by itself.

In Mexico, it’s served in a loose form, held together in a plastic casing. Spanish chorizo has it’s own flavor, dense with smoked paprika and cured for long periods of time. In Portugal and Brazil, Linguiça is king. But in Asia, it’s an entirely different tube of meat.

Longaniza are Philippine chorizos flavored with spices native to the Philippines. They’ve been making Longaniza for a very long time. Every region of the Philippines has their own specialty too. And unlike the chorizo made in Mexico and Spain, Longanizas can sometimes be made using chicken, beef, or fish.

I discovered Vigan Longaniza a couple of years ago at a local Asian market. It’s usually an exciting day for me when I get a chance to shop there, but the day I discovered fresh sausage I almost had a stroke. And listen, as a 6-foot-3 white guy in an Asian store, I stand out enough. The last thing I need to be doing is the moonwalk at the meat counter.

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As I prefer to do with most meat, especially sausages, I grill them. Nothing seems more appropriate to me than few pieces of hickory kissing sizzling sausages with continuous whips of hot flames. Slowly, the sausages begin to ooze their fat, which drips into the hot embers, making even more trouble for itself. Fat on a flame makes for more angry flames.

What makes Vigan Longaniza unique among others is that it’s got a high concentration of garlic, and is quite sour. In Ilocos, a province in the North, they stamp this sausage with it’s own unique flavor by adding Sukang Iloko, a vinegar made from sugar cane juice. It’s widely used in the Philippines, and has a very mellow taste that some say is similar to that of rice vinegar.

I hadn’t realized how rare an opportunity it is for me to get a chance taste this sausage until I did research for this post, as it’s rarely available outside of the city of Vigan. When it is, it’s in small quantities. So to whoever it is who’s making these fresh here in the states, Thank You.

Vigan longaniza are traditionally served with atsara, which are pickled vegetables. I’m a total whore for pickled fresh cucumber slices, so they ended up being the perfect compliment to this tasty snack – a gastronomic gift from my Philippine friends.

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25 Comments

  1. I’ve never heard of these! PHOTOS ARE KILLING ME…. BEAUTIFUL.

  2. I agree with @mylastbite! The photos are killing me! I am going to locate an Asian market and see if they have some of these.

  3. 🙂 Thank you!!

    I failed to mention that these were purchased at 99 Ranch Market in Irvine. They have locations all over California, and one in Las Vegas.

  4. Looks like the closes one for me is Atlanta or Las Vegas. Road trip!

    I think I will check a few places around San Antonio or Austin.

  5. Mayne oh mayne. Yes, that looks amazing. I love pork but interestingly am not a huge fan of sausage, until I start eating it. 🙂 Being from Texas, I’ve always found chorizo in particular to have a too-sour, indigestion-inducing quality, but touches of it work wonders in a taco. I would love to give this longaniza a try, however!

    • Yeah, it’s the sour taste that turns a lot of people off to chorizo. It’s understandable. You get so used to sausage being sweet or exceptionally savory. So having a sour flavor come at you when you don’t expect it just turns some people off of it.

  6. The Vigan Longaniza look SO snappy! And shiny. I have never indulged in Filipino sausages and cannot wait to do so. I’m sure they’d rock the party with some garlic rice.

  7. sausage party 2.0?
    now i’m gonna have to look for longaniza everywhere, great. because of your photos, my keyboard is full of drool.

  8. Garlic Rice! That would totally bring it together. Nice. 😉

    And thanks, Nik. If you find them, buy them. They’re delicious.

  9. They Look so delicious, and cooked perfectly!
    Like always, very well done Phil!
    xo

  10. Better late then never! Just read this great post. Love the mini pork lesson! I am a very big fan of pork so thoroughly loved this post. You really have a way with words (and apparently a grilled sausage too!) my friend. And those longaniza in the pics look amazing. Thanks for the great read Phil!

    • Thanks Charles. When I was growing up, any time we had meat on the table (which was somewhat rare) it was usually pork. Italian sausages, of course. Sometimes ribs, but usually shoulder or butt (which my mother could not cook well). It was a flavor I grew up with, and now I can’t live without.

  11. I would agree, pork, oysters and beer are my new religion too. Great meeting you last night. I look forward to reading more here and seeing you around! Best, Brooke

  12. “I now believe there to be a holy trinity: pork, oysters, and beer.”

    This exact quote was said in the Chicago episode of No Reservations, by Paul Kahan, about his new endeavor Publican (now opened for some time).

    • Noted (and fixed above). 😉 Thank you! I definitely should have given Paul a nod for saying that and inspiring my approach to food lately. It’s so true too. I meant every word of it (and not just about food either, but that’s a whole other post).

      I thought both the Chicago and Food Porn episodes were two of the greatest No Reservations episodes of all of last season. As Bourdain has said about China, I’m sure he could do several shows just focusing on Chicago and still not scratch the surface.

      Thanks again!

  13. Long time listener/reader first time commenter- My wife is Filipino, and we have been doing Longinisia for years, I have not tried the specialty ones you mention above but have made the more common ones a fairly regular meal around our house. Try the hot variety, they are not too hot but gives an added kick to the meal. We always eat it with rice and my wife also pulls out the canned Ligo sardines with it. I have not tried it on the grill – nice variation that just did not occur to me. I did not think of these in the tradition sausage way – we pan fry them and they tend to get a nice caramelized fatty sauce around it that goes well with rice. If you get a chance you should try Tocino – it is kind of the Filipino bacon – cured thick sliced pork – good stuff!. Love your podcast/blog – keep it up!

    • Thanks for checking in Jeff! And thanks for the tips on the other styles of Longinisia as well. I have seen these at the butcher counter at 99 Ranch Market for some time now, and it wasn’t until recently that I finally started learning about them. Some are marked “sweet.” I have not seen any referenced as hot or spicy, but I’m going to look closer next time I’m there. Thanks for the tip.

      I love the idea of having these with sardines and rice! That sounds incredible, and truly authentic. I’m sure pan frying is the way you’re supposed to cook these. I just always cheese out and grill meat whenever possible. I love grilling, and any opportunity I have to start a fire and cook over it, I’m definitely taking.

      Thanks again for stopping by here, and for listening. It’s great to hear from you.

      Phil

  14. I didn’t even know there was a Philippine version of chorizo! How interesting that it’s sour. But then sourness does play a key role in so many Filipino dishes. So this sausage isn’t spicy hot then?

    • Hi Carolyn!

      I’ll be honest. Before I did research for this post, I didn’t realize how many different countries made chorizo either. Sausage seems to be a worldwide staple – it’s everywhere. Of all sausages, chorizo seems to be the most popular style.

      This sausage is not spicy hot, but it does have a small amount of heat to it that borders on bitterness, yet retains quite a bit of sweetness. They look more dangerous than they taste. They make a sweet version of this same chorizo, but I’ve not had it.

      Thanks for your comments, and for checking out my blog. I really enjoy reading yours.

      Phil

  15. I love the idea of grilling longaniza! As for the different types, I’m more familar with the longaniza from Pampanga and Manila. Your local filipino market may have more varieties.

    I tend to gravitate toward the sweet ones for breakfast, and the more garlicky ones for snacking. I’ve tried some of the “hot” sausages, but it didn’t seem that hot to me. And it is an absolute must with freshly cooked rice.

    • Thanks for the tips! I’m really interested to see how many different varieties 99 Ranch Market carries now. I think it’s time to head back there and see what else they have.

      You’re right about the heat. They’re not all that hot. In fact, I don’t find most chorizo in general to be that spicy. The paprika tends to be mild most of the time. It’s never anything like some Italian Charcuterie such as pepperoni or hot cappo.

      Thank you for your comments!

  16. I just discovered your podcast and I swear you’re gonna get me in trouble, laughing out loud while walking in the city! I was already impressed after 2 eps (#32, 36), but this Longanisa post has made me a fan for life!

    Love, love, love Longanisa (and all other forms of pork!)! It makes for an awesome breakfast with garlic fried rice and a fried egg. In fact, if you pan-fry it (and you should try this), you can then make your fried rice in the leftover longanisa fat/caramelized-goodness! Hee! Yes, I know, it’s a heart attack waiting to happen, but what better way to go? And thanks for the brilliant idea of grilling them! 🙂

    • Thank you Mela!!! I appreciate that you took the time to comment on this, and for your tips on pan frying. I love the idea of pan-frying them, then using the leftover fat/caramelization to fry the rice. Brilliant!

      And you’re my first official “fan for life!” I feel so special! None of my other podcasting friends can stake claim to that. 🙂

      Thanks again for your comments, and for listening to the show.

  17. To say longaniza are Filipino chorizos is to completely lose the cultural reference point of this sausage.

    It is just as probable to say certain forms of longanisas are Philippine’s version of various Chinese sausages. There are multiple references to this piece of culinary history. See here, and on Wiki (pardon me for the lousy links, I’m sure better ones can be found.

    Considering the Chinese have been found to be inhabitants of the PH islands since the 10th century, it’d behoove us to assume the culinary influence predates Spanish/Portugese presence.

    Heck, these were purchased at a Chinese supermarket… If you like the Vigans, I’d suggest a highly touted sausage stuffing shop in Rosemead that makes Vietnamese lap xuong in small batches.

  18. Yum. I just cooked some longanisa for dinner tonight with roasted vegetables. I’ll probably blog about them too if the pics turned out as good as yours 🙂


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