Longganiza is the standard-issue / catch-all term used for sausages in this part of the world. From the enormous salami-like tubes made on the premises and sold by wet-market butchers to the just-this-side-of-burnt skinless links served for breakfast at many fast-food joints, longganiza is a broad-spectrum favorite, its fans encompassing all age groups and socio-economic strata.
Local snags are almost always made with pork and fall into either one of two categories: hamonado and de recado. Hamonado sausages are so called because the end result of their curing process is a product similar in flavor and/or texture to sweet ham. Brown or white sugar is added to the ground pork along with plenty of black pepper, rock salt, and fresh garlic. When fried, these are magnificently caramelized on the outside and the flavor is a play on sweet and savory. Hamonado-style sausages are most commonly made in Central Luzon, usually in the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan; both provinces are known for their sweet-cured meat products, all of which are excellent with garlicky fried rice and fried eggs in the morning. Interestingly, the sugar-growing Visayan provinces of Negros and Iloilo have a similar product: chorizo Ilonggo – a skinless sweet sausage lightly kissed with fresh garlic that goes down a treat on plain boiled rice with just a drizzle of fiery sinamak vinegar. A product similar to the Ilonggo sausage is used in the resort island of Boracay to make the perennially popular chori-burger, a large bun filled with slices of sweet sausage in a sweetly peppery sauce.
De recado is a Spanish loan-phrase which pretty much means gussied up or loaded with ingredients. Like the links at the top of this post, these are what I’d like to call powerhouse sausages, richly seasoned snags that pack a flavorful punch. These are more savory than sweet, the addition of different spices, herbs, and – in several cases – vinegar greatly enhances the flavor of the pork. These also lend themselves well to Western modes of cookery and serving food. Indeed, de recado sausages are popularly added to Spanish paella; they add oomph to both cream- and tomato-based pasta sauces. Also, these sausages are never out of place on pizzas or in po’ boy or Dagwood-style savory sandwiches.
The spices and herbs used for de recado forcemeats depend on which part of the country the sausages were made in. In the Ilocos Region where the bulk of the Philippine garlic crop is grown, local bulbs are crushed and mixed with pork, black pepper, and the dark, rice-hull vinegar of the north to make the famed longganizas de Vigan. In the city of Guagua in sweet-loving Pampanga, locals play against type and produce a perky, vinegary set of links given a wild pop of finely chopped chili. In my paternal grandmother’s home province of Nueva Ecija, the garlicky character is given a vivid hue through the addition of either kasubha (native saffron) or achuete (annato seed) to give the snags a nice, golden-orange color.
Lucban, Quezon takes the crown in the sausage races with the famed longganizang Lucban. These links are highly seasoned with dark cane vinegar, finely chopped local oregano, and a generous amount of pimenton rojo dulce (sweet red paprika) to give it a vivid scarlet appearance and the amount of fat used in the forcemeat melts off during frying. The cooked sausages are, thus, smaller than most; but the flavor concentrated in the resulting meaty nuggets is just bloody fantastic.
I’ve never really been a fan of the hamonado style, but fry me up a bunch of de recado snags and hand them to me over rice or on a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes and I, dear readers, will be one very happy camper.