I am in the midst of attempting to make a batch of homemade longganisa (local pork sausages), and while at the supermarket, purchased some pork shoulder and asked the butcher for a few kilos of pork fat. He looked at me a little funny, and I said, “fat back” — which resulted in an even more quizzical face. He asked what I was using it for and I said “pang dagdag na taba sa longganisa” (to add fat to sausages) and he scurried off looking confident. He brought out nearly four kilos of “tampalen or tampalen fat” and I took it knowing it most definitely wasn’t fat back. I figured that at PHP200, this was worth buying if only to figure out what it was. Since the butchers typically know their fat, I thought that maybe this was some special ingredient in local longganisas I had never heard of… Well, it turns out the fat is kinda stringy or “herniated” in look, if you get my drift. I actually have been unable to figure out just exactly where in the pig it is from and how it is used…
In the back of my mind is a friend’s comment some weeks back that fried tampalen is deadly delicious and often added to lumpiang ubod or pancit for that combination of fattiness and meatiness, if that makes sense. But I have never come across tampalen before, let alone cooked it. And googling it yields almost no entries whatsoever that are helpful. So I need your help… What exactly is pork tampalen? From what part of the pig does it come from? Does it have an English name or term that refers to the same part of the pig? And how is it most often used in cooking? As I type this, I am experimenting by rendering small chunks of tampalen in a wok over low heat. I figure I can make lard out of it, but I am hoping that the cooked solids are good for something else… If you can shed any light on this fatty mystery, I would appreciate your help. Thanks!
Here’s a photo of half a kilo or so of pork tampalen after just ten minutes of rendering over low heat. :)
Here, the rendered pieces of fat, spongy and slightly chewy, not totally crisp and lightly golden.
Finally, the lard. LARD. :)