Crispy Pata or crispy pork leg is a popular Filipino pork dish. This dish can be eaten as a main dish along with rice and atcharang papaya. People also consume it as beer food or pulutan. It is best when dipped in a spicy vinegar mixture.
How to Cook Crispy Pata
Cooking crispy pata is quite challenging. However, everyone can do it with proper caution. I felt good the first time I made this successfully. I consider it as an achievement, and so should you.
There are two major processes involved in making crispy pata. It involves boiling and deep-frying the pork leg. Boiling is necessary to tenderize the meat. It also helps make the skin crunchy when fried. Deep-frying completes the dish and provides a nice crisp texture. I don’t think that I need to elaborate more.
Boiling the Pork Leg
Start to boil the pata or pork leg by boiling water in a deep cooking pot. Make sure that there is enough water to the point that the leg is fully submerged.
Adding spices and seasonings is recommended during this step because it helps infuse flavors to the meat. The spices can also help reduce or eliminate the unwanted odor. For these reasons, I add dried bay leaves or “pinatuyong dahon ng laurel”, whole peppercorn, star anise, and salt.
Boiling time is important because it affects the tenderness of the meat. 1 hour of boiling is ideal. However, you can boil longer if necessary. The key in this step is to ensure that the pork leg is completely tender. Remove the pork leg from the cooking pot afterwards and let it dry completely.
It is important to rub salt all over the pork leg before frying. I also added ground black pepper and garlic powder, but these are not required. Let it stay for around 15 minutes to allow the meat to absorb the salt.
Some people will tell you to freeze the pork leg because it helps make the skin crispy when fried. This can be true, but it can be an issue if you don’t have time for it. This recipe will guide you on how to cook crispy pata within a couple of hours.
Deep-frying the Pata
There are many ways in cooking crispy pata. The meat needs to be fully cooked and tender. The entire dish should be saucy. This is where the magic happens. It can be a bit challenging, but hang in there and have fun. Always have your guard up all the time.
The first thing to consider is the pot where the pork will be fried. It should be heavy, tall, and with cover. Oil will splatter like crazy when frying the pork leg. A tall enough heavy pot gives you extra protection.The cover will act as your shield. You may also use a deep fryer that is large enough to fit the pork leg. It is safer.
Heat enough oil in the pot. Make sure to heat the oil completely before frying the pork leg. The ideal temperature oil the oil should be between 350F to 375F.
Grab the pork leg with a long kitchen tong and gently submerge into the hot oil. I am always holding the cover of the pot on my other hand so that I can partially cover it when oil starts to splatter. You might be wondering why I am not recommending the use of a splatter screen.I don’t want you to have false hopes. A splatter screen is partially helpful. It cannot completely block the splattering oil. Covering the pot with its cover “partially” is the way to go. Do not cover completely to let steam out. Otherwise, the steam turns into water and it drips back into the oil and it will cause more splattering action.