Considered as one of the tastiest dishes north of the Philippines, dinakdakan is a delicacy that Ilocanos takes pride in. Parts of pork’s head chargrilled for that smoky flavor then tossed with onions, chilis, and calamansi!
If you ask my husband what his favorite appetizers or beer match are, then you’ll get two answers. Sisig and dinakdakan are on top of his list. There’s just something about chargrilled pork ears, snout and pig’s brain that appeals to his appetite.
As husband and wife, we don’t back away from exotic foods and try different culinary cultures like callos. So when I tried this recipe and it calls for pig’s brain as an ingredient, I didn’t even bat an eye. It’s a unique and tasty dish that will keep you coming back for more!
What is Dinakdakan?
Locally called warek-warek, the delicacy might not win over everyone. With its uncommon ingredients such as offal cuts and pig’s brain, I can’t blame them. But one thing I can guarantee is once you tried it, you’ll get hooked.
Made by simmering the pork until tender then grilling and cutting to bite-sized strips. This method of cooking yields pork that’s unbelievably rich and tender with crispy golden bits. The authentic dinakdakan recipe makes use of pig’s brain that gives it a thick and creamy texture. All this tossed in vinegar, red onions, chili, and ginger for a great pulutan or main dish.
Sisig vs. Dinakdakan
I have to admit, even as a Kapampangan, I can say that the Ilocano dish is at par with sisig. They have similarities but you can easily tell which is which. Just by taste alone, you’ll know it’s dinakdakan because of the ginger. The pig’s brain is also a giveaway since sisig only makes use of pork liver. The way the pork is cut is also different. Sisig needs the pork to be chopped while the other are in bite-sized strips.
Tips for an amiable experience
- If you are hesitant to use or can’t find pig’ brain, you can use mayonnaise as a replacement. You can also use cow’s brain that can be bought in Asian stores.
- Plan ahead when making this dish since it can easily spoil.
- Store left-overs in an airtight container and refrigerate for 2-3 days but check freshness again before re-heating.
The secret ingredient is always LOVE
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- 1 pc. / 400 grams pork ears
- 1 pc. / 400 grams pork snout
- water (for boiling ears, snout, and brain)
- 1 tbsp rock salt (for boiling ears and snout)
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorn (for boiling ears and snout)
- 3 pcs bay leaves (for boiling ears and snout)
- ¾ cup pig's brain
- 1 tsp salt (for boiling pig brain)
- 1 tsp ground pepper (for seasoning brain)
- 1 tsp salt (for seasoning brain)
- 2 tbsp vinegar (for seasoning brain)
For Making the Dinakdakan
- 1 small red onion (sliced)
- ½ cup vinegar
- 1 tbsp calamansi or lemon juice
- 1 pc. long green chili (sliced)
- 1 pc. red green chili (sliced)
- 1 thumb-sized ginger (chopped finely)
- ¼ cup spring onion (sliced)
- In a pot over medium-high heat, place snout, ears, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, removing scum that rises on top.1 pc. / 400 grams pork ears, 1 pc. / 400 grams pork snout, water, 1 tbsp rock salt, 1 tbsp whole peppercorn, 3 pcs bay leaves
- Simmer in medium heat for 45 minutes until soft and tender. Using a thong or slotted spoon, remove pork from pot draining excess water and transfer in a bowl to cool down.
- Grill pork over charcoals or electric grill for about 5 to 10 minutes on each side or until crisp and slightly charred. Allow to cool then slice into bite-size strips and place in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In a smaller pot, submerge pig brain in water then add salt and boil for 5 – 8 minutes. Remove from pot and transfer in a bowl. Mash using a fork then season with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Set aside.¾ cup pig's brain, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground pepper, 2 tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp salt
- Take the bowl with strips of pork snout and ears. Add red onion, green chili, red chili, ginger, spring onions, vinegar and calamansi/lemon juice. Toss to distribute ingredients evenly.1 small red onion, ½ cup vinegar, 1 tbsp calamansi or lemon juice, 1 pc. long green chili, 1 pc. red green chili, 1 thumb-sized ginger, ¼ cup spring onion
- Add mashed pig brain and mix well to incorporate then season with salt and pepper. Transfer in a serving plate and enjoy. Bon appetit!