Unlike the more popular lechon kawali, crispy pata uses pig's trotters. This cut contains a lot more chewy and sticky collagen that creates a delicious texture when fried.
This approach to boneless crispy pata doesn’t require you to debone the meat. Instead, you purchase pre-cut pork leg and boil it for a few hours. Once soft, you can pull out and remove the bones with your hand for a much easier time.
Boneless crispy pata is much easier to cook than a whole pork leg, too. With cut-up pieces, you maximize the surface area for the meat to get crispy. However, smaller cuts also mean that the meat will come out drier than when fried whole. So this version will feel less meaty, and much more like pulutan.
- 2 kg pata (pork leg), cut into 3-inch thick discs
- ½ cup red cane vinegar
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tbsp minced red onion
- 1 tbsp minced siling haba (green chili)
Buy pata: Find a meat shop that sells whole or cut pork leg. If buying whole, ask the butcher to cut it into 2 ½- to 3-inch thick discs. If you cut too thin, the meat will dry out after frying.
Brine pata: Prepare a basic brine with a 6% salt to water ratio: 60g of salt for every 1L of water. Place pata pieces in a large mixing bowl or container and cover with brine. Cover container and store in the fridge overnight, up to 24 hours. Don't let the meat sit in the brine too long, or it might get too salty.
Note: Most crispy pata recipes will tell you to marinate the meat in aromatics like ginger, garlic, or bay leaves. They’ll also tell you to add soy sauce, fish sauce, and vinegar in the marinade. You don’t need to do this. Marinates don’t penetrate thick meat.
Boil pata: Remove pata from the fridge and discard brine. Transfer drained pata to a wok or heavy-bottomed pot. Pour enough water into the wok or pot until meat is covered.
Bring heat to high until water is boiling. Once boiling, lower heat to medium. Skim off any white bubbles or scum that float to the surface.
Once water is clear, cover the wok or pot with a lid and simmer until soft enough to remove the bone with the meat intact, about 2 ½ hours.
Cool pata: Remove pata from broth and let sit in the fridge, uncovered, for 1 hour to cool down and dry out. Set aside and use the pork broth however you want; you will no longer need it for this recipe.
Remove bones from pata: Prepare a chopping board and a mixing bowl. Once pata has cooled down, gently remove the bones using your hands. They should slide out easily. Make sure not to exert too much force and tear the meat. Transfer bones to the mixing bowl and set aside. The bones may contain some collagen and meat, so you can fry them later with your pata, if you like.
Prepare pata skin: Using a fork, poke holes generously all around the pata skin. The holes will help the skin crackle and blister while frying. Once all pieces have been poked, pat the pata dry with a paper towel to dry it out further. Wet meat will make the pata pop and explode in the hot oil!
Prepare oil: In a wok or heavy-bottomed pot, add enough oil to submerge the pata when fried. IMPORTANT: Make sure to leave at least 2 inches from the top rim of the pot. The hot oil can overboil while frying—extremely dangerous! Heat oil over high heat until ripping hot. If you have a frying or instant-read thermometer, aim for 350–400°F.
Fry pata: Once oil is hot, carefully drop the pata (and optional bones) one by one, working in batches if necessary. Once you drop the meat, prepare for fireworks. They will explode. If you have a splatter guard, use it now. Leave the pata in the hot oil until crispy. The extra collagen content might make them sticky, so use tongs to move the meat around once the oil calms down. Once crispy, transfer pata to a wire rack or heatproof plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil.
Make dipping sauce: Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Serve on the side with freshly fried crispy pata. Serve immediately.