“Cebu-style” chorizo experiments… :(

I have never been fond of “cebu-style chorizo” and rarely eat it. It always struck me as being outrageously “nuclear red” and cloyingly sweet. But there appears to be a clamor for some cebu-style chorizo at our outlets so I figured I would attempt to come up with a version I could live with, without necessarily putting in too much of the coloring or sugar. Into a batch of pork that was roughly 60% meat and 40% fat, already say 10% more fat than I would be comfortable using normally, I added in salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar, sugar and maltose as well as some achuete oil for more natural coloring, but when that seemed too pale, tried a couple of drops of red food coloring as well. The mixture stayed refrigerated overnight and was then ground up coarsely and forced into some pig intestines and tied in the characteristically small chorizo “balls” in the photo above.

Folks in the office already scoffed (before we even had a chance to cook the chorizo) that it was not the “cebu red”, and when cooked, despite the 40% fat content, it wasn’t fatty enough! And my medium grind of the meat yielded too fine of a texture, with no blobs of fat. But before I move on, a word on cooking these little buggers without splattering your kitchen walls like some violent murder has just taken place… Place several defrosted (if they were frozen) chorizos in a pan, add a bit of water and turn the heat on. As the water simmers, carefully turn the chorizos over and keep an eye on “air pockets”. When the air pockets grow, prick them with a toothpick to release the air but beware of the liquid/fat that shoots out of those holes. Honestly, it was like a really fine but wickedly hot version of a baby filled with liquid peeing into the air when you try to change his diaper. Outrageous! And if they should burst on their own, uncontrollably, woe be you who has kitchen clean-up duty… :)

These seemed plenty colorful to me, but apparently they were just wrong. Folks were kind enough to taste the chorizo, and didn’t turn it away, but they didn’t sound enthusiastic at all. They insisted it had to be sweeter, stickier, fattier and if possible, redder. Yipes. Definitely beyond my personal threshold for sugar in meat. Yuck, I thought…

I actually thought these looked pretty good! Except that I have a problem with the pigs intestines being a bit thicker and chewier than say sausages made with sheep’s intestines… And everyone seems to eat the filling and often set aside the casing… so I guess that’s the reason of the growing popularity of naked chorizo or chorizong hubad. But with some taunting, I decided to see just how much darned sugar was needed to come close to locals’ expectations…

To about 2-3 cups of coarsely ground meat with large blobs of fat added, say a 50-50 meat to fat ratio, I added roughly 1/4 cup of white granulated sugar and several drops of red food coloring. I also added a touch more vinegar. Mashed this all up with a plastic glove and pan fried this in a bit of lard. The result? This sticky, chewy, crispy, gooey, reddish mess that everyone tasted, smiles broke on almost all their faces and they exclaimed, “THAT’S MORE LIKE CEBU CHORIZO!” Yipes. A LOT OF SUGAR, I kid you not. And enough red food coloring so that your poop would be dyed red a few hours later. :) Hmmm, not sure how I will get over this high sugar content if we are to introduce a version of this chorizo in our stores… Funny how the vast majority of people think that Filipino food has gotten so sweet in the past couple of decades… and then they all swoon over a chorizo whose second most plentiful ingredient is sugar. :) Drown this is some good vinegar, have lots of rice on hand, and maybe a couple of fried eggs and many are in Cebu chorizo style breakfast heaven!


46 Responses

  1. Salamat po sa recipe nyo. Nuong nag-titinda pa kami sa Guadalupe, gumagawa kami ng longganisa at tocino (by hand, tadtad hindi giling), recipe ng kapatid ko, at talagang dinudumog ng mga tao kasi laging fresh araw-araw ang tinda namin. Pero naka-limutan ko na ang timpla kaya hindi ako makagawa ng para sa sarili ko. Kaya nga po gagayahin ko itong post ninyo, konting tinkering lang.

    Speaking of the “mess” naman, I just spoke with my niece in Quezon who loves this dish. I just told them na sa susunod na pagluluto nila eh huwag sa loob ng bahay lutuin at duon sa labasan (wherein we have uling kalan), dahil nga sa mga tilamsik ng mantika. Bamboo slats ang kitchen counter duon, so ang hirap linisin at dahil may spaces in between yung design, bagsak sa ilalim yung mantika. Minsan mas madali pang bumili ng already cooked, pero iba na yung sariling timplada at sariling luto. You can be assured of the kind of meat, the spices used, at kung talagang bago. Thanks ulit.

  2. OMG!!! These are the Cebu chorizos I have been longing for and *trying* to make them here in the US (trying being the operative word)! It has been a while since Ive had them so I guess my point of comparison was missing – hence, the *failure*. I remember my mom would skewer these babies and barbeque them – making sure she pricks each link before putting them over hot coals. Thank you for your recipe. I will try to make them here with or without the casing. Can’t wait! :-)

  3. Yikes! That looks incredibly deadly to your arteries never mind the kitchen…hehehe
    I will not survive a day from the “dragon cleaning lady” if I cook that way.

    On a side note, perhaps you can introduce your healthier tamer version as a preference of the “modern Cebuano”.

  4. Kaya nga hindi na ko makakain ng longga and toci kasi the ones we have commercially available here in Manila are too sweet and too ‘pulverized’. Hate na hate ko yung mga Pampanga’s Best. Parang sugar na may meat. :/

  5. I usually prick the longganisa before cooking. I use a little water to cook it a bit till the water evaporates and fry it with its rendered out fat. it is very splattery (is there such a word?) so I cook it outside. It is so hard to find good longganisa here in the US. I usually just buy whatever is available at the Filipino store to satisfy my craving.

  6. Just like bakerwannabe, we prick our links before cooking and this seems to reduce the amount of splatter.

    MM – ” And enough red food coloring so that your poop would be died red a few hours later. :) ” – possibly dyed not “died”? though with the amount of sugar and food coloring, died may be the right word… (^_*)

  7. …good to be back home, MM…this is just what I needed…home cooked meals! If red dye turns you off, sub BEET POWDER.

    Btw?..next time you are in Florence, there is a grocery store near the train station. I lucked out and they have LA VECCHIA DISPENSA ACETO BALSAMICO 30 year old with density of 1.35 for guess what…27 euros for a bottle…I think it is a 250 ml or 300 ml. bottle. The same bottle was being sold at the mercatocentrale for 89 euros…needless to say I grabbed enough for pasalubongs much to the delight of the cashier! It isn’t the traditionale but for me, it is good enough…so thick just the same. We explored practically the whole of Florence on foot walking 6 to 8 hours a day for just about 5 days there. As such, I was rewarded by coming across that balsamic vinegar though my aching feet just about gave up at the end of the day.

  8. dearest MM, just landed after longest Phils to Europe flight with joliest group of our nation’s best endocritionoloigists. Ok I hope I got enough vowels in there.excuse me – that’s not really a chorizo worthy of the name. Really not being arrogant or anything, but last week sourced real dried Spanish chorizo in New Manila for a Paella with the works.

  9. i have tasted longaniza from cebu (transient retailer) and liked it. problem was they never sold any again. one has to be really careful when puncturing them. dahan-dahan talaga, let the liquid drip slowly out of the longaniza. dahan-dahan in and dahan-dahan out. that way, there’ll be no surprise squirts.

  10. Josephine, I would have to agree, there should be a law against calling these chorizo… maybe choricino instead (chorizong tocino) or Cebuano Sugar Meat Links… :) bettyq, sounds like you had a ball in Florence, I love that city too… netoy, absolutely, dye not die… thanks for catching that. :) bakerwannabe, yes, best to prick before turning on the heat, and just a little water and when that evaporates, it will fry and caramelize. robin, now that I know just how much sugar it takes to get that pinoy consistency, I will be very wary of longgas and chorizos from now on… la emperor, call them “Chorizo Light”… hahaha!

  11. PITS, someone in our office said this was pricking a rubber filled with water with a small pin… I laughed. Too visually correct. :)

  12. Maybe I’m just not cool enough to be a Cebuano, but, I definitely prefer your version better. Eating something that red, unless it’s a strawberry or an apple, I guess, would make me feel like I’m eating something with paint poured into it.

    Still have got to say that I’m a sucker for Car Car’s chicharrones, and even though I’ve never been a lechon fan, having my first Zubuchon 2 Christmases ago converted me!

  13. I, too, utterly dislike those sweet sausages (or any sweet meats for that matter). For me, not only do these taste awful, the caramelized tutong on the frying pan is such a pain to clean afterwards.

    Josephine, where in New Manila did you find the dried chorizos? Could it be that quaint little food shop in front of the Mount Carmel church?

  14. Hi MM – you’ve been busy!

    I sent a private email to you on a separate matter and am wondering if it ended in your spam folder. Email me back if you have not received it.



  15. My wife always makes it a point to buy a good 2 kilos or more of the chorizo whenever we’re in cebu. She loves it while I’m more of a vigan-style longganiza fan.

  16. I don’t like sweet chorizo (or even longganisa). I prefer the garlicky longganisa found in Ilocos. If I wanted sweet I’d buy Kapampangan tocino.

  17. When I was a kid, my sister and I will cook fried rice on the same pan used in cooking the market bought longganisa (traditional one – overly red, overly sweet and overly loaded with pork fat). We would normally use newly cooked rice (still piping hot) as its steam was needed to melt those caramelized sugar that got stuck at the bottom and side of the pan. As a side dish, we would just chop some tomatoes and our longganisa meal would be complete and perfect.

    Now, as an adult, I still eat longganisa. But, my taste bud prefers the Ilocos version (the less popular one – Laoag).

  18. My last comment disappeared so I’ll make it brief.

    – for colouring, try red yeast rice or red fermented bean curd.
    – for sweetness, try dark brown sugar and stevia.
    – for tenderising intestines, try ground young papaya, pineapple juice or baking soda( for a few minutes, then thoroughly washed ).

  19. to all avid MM followers – is there a place in metro manila where one can buy ilocos longganisa? i love the garlicky longganisas and all that we can buy here in the u.s. is the kapampangan variety (the sweet ones). maraming salamat po.

  20. To cut the sweetness, maybe it would help to add chilli. I tried Cebu-style longanisa in a restaurant called AA BBQ (in Cebu) and while sweet, the spiciness made it really yummy!

  21. try grilling your longaniza. skewer them and grill them in coals.

    thats what we do with alaminos longaniza.

  22. Hi MM, I’ve been planning as well to make my own chorizo at home and just like you, i don’t like it too sweeet and reddish as well. instead of the usual red food coloring a little sweet paprika perhaps for color (other than the atsuete oil) will do … i also like my chorizo a bit sour and sweet. Super masarap sya with fried rice and sukang tuba on a weekend breakfast (we only have sinangag on weekend and on holidays kasi :(…… ) Hope to find time to make one the soonest.. thanks MM!

  23. I have to agree on the observation that Filipino food had gone sweet in the past few decades. I ate in one of the more popular restaurants in Ayala triangle and tried their tapa a few years ago. It was soooo sweet and thought for a while that I ordered tocino. But the restaurant remains popular so I guess their recipes are a hit with the “Filipino” taste.

  24. Personally, I miss the garlicky and savory longganisas I had as a child. I hate these sweet sticky longganisas. :(

  25. Looks yummy, but as I get older my taste is liking less sugar in my barbecued meats, longanisa, etc. My friend’s mom doesn’t use casings, just forms the meat into sausage shapes and fries it so no splatters!

  26. I have indulged in these cebu-style chorizos but after reading your post, I was mortified with the amount of food color and sugar needed to get it to taste like that.
    Just like one of the comments, tocino has also become way too sweet for my taste.

  27. Coming from Northern Mindanao, the food that I’m used to is more or less Visayas-inspired (Dad & Maternal Grandpa are from Cebu). I can’t remember thinking that the chorizo was sweet, although when I came here to Manila to work, I noticed that the chorizo and tocino are sweeter than what I’m used to. I make my own tocino using tocino mix from a Cebu-based company and I only get that when I go back to my hometown since I don’t see it in the grocery where I go to.

    I also noticed that people here in MM are into sweet desserts. They laugh at me at the office because I’d tell them I’d rather have eat a chiffon cake than most cakes sold here.

  28. Certain population or ethnic groups like sugar in their dishes ( Japan for example ) and I notice islanders where sugar cane is in abundance tend to like it sweet. In the Caribbean the pineapple juice or most juices they serve are almost syrupy sweet….at least for my taste.
    Sugar in food might also be a cultural carryover as a status symbol from the days when only the rich can afford sweets.

    Josephine, did you mean “endocrinologists” or are you coining a new word ?

    Welcome back bettyQ! Coming from Italy, I’d probably stuff my luggage with more leather goods than balsamic vinegar….( tells you of my Imeldific sense of priorities).

  29. ConnieC, I think sugar is mainly used as a shortcut and a cheap shortcut at that to adding “flavor” to a dish. It makes it more appealing to many a palate. And it masks the lack of other more expensive flavors like herbs, etc. less noticeable. Sweet spaghetti, sweet longanisa, sweet everything it seems is to me, mostly a last 30 year phenomena in the Philippines. In other Asian countries, chili or spice is used to mask the underlying protein… We have tested dishes for the restaurant without telling folks what is in the dish, and many inevitably opt for the ones with a touch of sugar… it’s as if tickling that part of their palate signals their brain to say its more desirable… which to me, personally, is a cheap trick…

    Even fastfood outlets use the sugar trick… think french fries sprayed with a sugar syrup and the addition of lots of salt to boot…

    If folks cooked more, they would realize just how much sugar has been added to restaurant/commercial food.

  30. We had Cebu chorizo the other day. And honestly I did not like it- it’s sweet. I go for the garlicky and salty type like the Lucban, Vigan and Baguio longganizas.

    Tip: To avoid the splattering, I would cook the longganiza using a turbo oven. Voila: no mess and healthier.

  31. I prefer the garlicky versions over the sweet type longganisa. I’ll try this version soon :) but probably without the casing. and less fat. I wonder what you could use as a substitute to the fat…

  32. hahaha! exactly like that — often enough, the squirts hit the ‘pin’ one uses for pricking and drizzle back into the pan (not the wall, the floor or on me) … if i ‘pre-empt’ the pricking, will have to prick them again because the casing usually closes up again for another build-up of steam and oil … natatawa na ako, i opted to use ‘pin’ instead of ‘prick’ – hahaha! it’s another rainy day in manila, those in the photo (casing pricked or not) would serve us well for breakfast. it would be nice if some of them are sweet and some are salty.

  33. MM, just like to know what Cebu style chorizo taste compare to the sweet manila longganisa version…or they just taste the same?

  34. longganisa is one of my favorite ulam but i can’t find a good brand in the groceries. my sister once had a jar of lucban longga that was quite red but oh so delicious, not sweet, just the way i like it–i ate it every day for several days until i ended up consuming the whole jar. all i remember is that it came in a large mayo container and had “otop” on the label so it was probably a “flagship” product. been wanting to try the various longganisas of the farm after daphne paez blogged about their product/s but i’m nowhere near any of their stores/outlets.

  35. love Cebu’s chorizo! i always make it a point to buy some from Tabuan Market before coming back to Manila. i like its sweetness and i eat even the casing :-) will be in Cebu on Monday, hope I can visit Zubuchon

  36. MM, that sweet chorizo you are referring to is quite recent. that flavor only came out in the mid 90’s when barbecues also started to become flavored with banana catsup (a tagalog influence i beleive). the original cebuano barbecue used to be only vinegar, soy sauce and calamansi.

    the cebu chorizo i grew up with is yes, hideously red. but it is typically chunky with lots of fat in it. but sweet.. not really. the real cebu chorizo, (as i remember it from the 70’s and 80’s) was SPICY! and the skin had to be fried till it burst open and is a black crisp.

    by the way, you dont FRY it. rather, you heat a bit of water in a frying pan and put the chorizo in there. make sure the chorizo was pricked several times with a fork to allow the fat to come out. steam or boil the water in the pan until the water evaporates and the fat oozes out of the chorizos. as they cook in their own fat, the chorizos burst open and you get the typical black, crunchy exterior of the cebu chorizo.

    and no, cebuanos, dont eat the skin unless its charred.

  37. It’s weird how sweetness has become almost the standard flavor in commercially served food that I’ve tasted gaggingly sweet bistik, caldereta and stir-fried ampalaya. My uncle even, unfortunately if I may add, makes this sweet paksiw na bangus!! Ugh!!

    I think sugar is now used as MSG substitute. My cousin does that. So she puts sugar in everything. Hay nako!

  38. have you tried the Manaloto Chorizo of Bacolod? (i am not related to the Manalotos nor do i work with them) they have 2 variants, the Recado and the Hamonado. my family being Cebuano likes the Hamonado. (the sweetish variant) maybe you can try to replicate it. as for me i prefer the Recado. these chorizos are also served at Antonio’s breakfast place.

  39. MM,

    The first tip I received when I cooked these chorizos or any of the local longganiza versions is to pierce the sausages before even cooking. That avoids those splatters that can be painful and messy.


  40. could all that red coloring be from the use of saltpeter? i like the color of your chorizo better.

  41. 50 years ago, yes, I know that dates me, Cebu chorizo was not overly sweet or red or like marbles. Coarsely chopped pork, about 30% fat, salt, pepper, garlic, some achuete (optional), and salt peter if you wanted a preservative, and a good 3″ long, and often dried for several days was made at home or bought from a suki.
    What’s going on with your native specialties? Are they gone forever in favor of overly sweetened, salted, and colored versions?

  42. I am with you, Sister. I have not tried this new sweet version at all. I don’t remember these round chorizos.



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