Learn a foolproof way to make the skin of your Crispy Pata crackle to the perfect crunchiness. This was made within the day without waiting overnight!
What is Crispy Pata?
It is a Filipino dish made from pork leg, usually from the hock to the trotters. Traditionally, t is cooked deep-fried but it can also be cooked in the oven. The main target is to have a crispy skin, as the name implies.
As this dish normally requires some time to prepare, it is usually reserved for special occasions or for the holidays. Many Filipino restaurants would also have Crispy Pata in their menus, including pubs as it is a well-loved pulutan or "booze appetizer". Some even offer boneless versions of it.
Crispy Pata is not complete without the accompanying dip— a mix of vinegar, soy sauce, chopped onions, ground pepper and, sometimes, chili labuyo.
Hind Leg or Front Leg?
You can use either hind or front leg to make Crispy Pata. The main difference is that the hind leg is usually bigger than the front leg. The front leg that comes from the shoulder normally also has more fats.
In this recipe, I used the front leg, which is big enough for 4 to share, more if it is only one of the other main dishes.
How to cook Crispy Pata?
You will find various recipes for Crispy Pata. Although cooking it usually involves deep frying, however, each presents different ways on how to prepare it.
To ensure that the meat inside of a rather big chunk is cooked and seasoned before frying, it has to be boiled first until tender with some salt and spices.
Most recipes would suggest letting it sit in the fridge overnight after boiling. The reason for that is to dry out the skin to have it crispy.
Foolproof way to a super Crispy Pata skin
But I learned that if you want a really good crackling, the skin proteins need to be denatured. It means to destroy the physical properties and loosen them up. Doing this will result in blistering and crackling. This can be done in many different ways like scorching, pricking, heating or applying some chemicals like acid, alkaline or alcohol.
In one forum I read, one experimented with vinegar, lemon, vodka, lye water, and other things. He got the est crackling with a light crunch using vodka (alcohol) and lye water. Baking soda comes next.
So I put it to the test. I used lye water as I have it for making Kutsinta and Pichi-pichi. Others are concerned that the lye water (or baking soda) will leave an after taste. To neutralize this a little vinegar and salt will do the trick. Although the small amount of lye will probably not leave any taste at all.
It really works! Just look at the photo below and check out that crispy-looking skin. It is indeed light and very crunchy without the chewiness or elastic resistance you get from pork skin. It also lessens the frying time to make the skin crackle so the pork is not over-fried and the meat remains juicy and tender.
Additional Tips :
- Remove any remaining strays of hair by plucking them with tweezers or scorch them with a kitchen torch.
- Boil the pork just until tender but not too long or the meat will separate from the bones.
- When deep-frying, use a deep pot to fry the pork so it could provide additional protection against the oil splatters.
- Immediately cover the pot with the lid after adding the pork, and let the spatters subside a bit then remove the cover. The lid will protect you from the initial splatters but it will build moisture later on that will drip to the oil and create more.
- Use a splatter screen if you have it.
- Do not fry too long or the meat will dry out.
- 1 whole pork leg - about 1.7 to 2 kgs with nails trimmed
- 1 tablespoons peppercorn
- ⅓ cup rock salt
- 1 head garlic - cut across into half
- 1 medium onion - cut into quarters
- 3 pieces bay leaves
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon lye water - See NOTE 1 for alternative to lye water
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 4 cups oil
- ½ cup vinegar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon peppercorn -crushed
- 1 small red onion - chopped finely
- 1 piece chili labuyo - chopped or use chili flakes
- Place the pork leg in a snuggly fitting pot. Add salt, peppercorn, garlic, onions and bay leaves. Pour in the water ad bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once it starts to boil, cover the pot and bring the heat down to low. Let it simmer for 1 hour or until meat and skin is tender but not too tender. You may add some water in between if it starts to dry up and the leg is not cooked yet.
- Remove the pork leg from the pot and drain excess liquids. Place it on a rack over a pan so the liquids can drip easily. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Brush the skin part completely with lye water. Place the leg in the fridge uncovered for at least 5 hours or overnight.
- Brush the skin this time with vinegar then rub some salt all over. Rest again for 30 minutes then use a kitchen or paper towel to remove the salt from the skin.
- Heat oil in a large, deep pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, gently add the pork leg and cover the pot. Wait until the splattering sounds subside a little and remove the cover. Replace the lid with a splatter screen if you have it.
- Fry the pork leg until the skin becomes crispy Turn as needed to get all the skin to cook until they crackle. Takes about 30 minutes to cook all sides and maybe lesser if completely submerged in oil.
- Transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve with vinegar-soy sauce dip while still warm and enjoy.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Adjust as the ingredients based on personal preference.
Hi. Have been using your crispy pata recipe. But instead of boiling it, I use pressure cooker to save time. This is always a hit with the family.
Thank you very much for sharing this recipe.
Yes, a pressure cooker is a lifesaver! Thanks for the great review, Jenny.
Can I use air fryer? Is there additional steps that I need to do?
Sure you can Grace. No additional steps just check it from time to time for doneness.
Tried crispy pata using this recipe. The skin is so crispy like lechon! Thank you for sharing this recipe.
It is great that you like it, Irene. Thanks for the 5 stars.
I would like to prep and freeze it in advance. Should I brush it with vinegar and salt before or after freezing?
Hi Len, skip the lye water and freeze then when you are to cook it, defrost it the night before in the refrigerator and brush it with lye water. Proceed with step 5 the next day.
What’s the oven temp and for how long do I bake it for?
What is the purpose of using lyewater/bakingsoda on the skin?
To make the skin really crispy.
Rowena villafuerte says
Hi can i bake in the oven instead of frying? Thanks
Sure you can or try turbo broiler if you have one.
Can I use picnic pork shoulder instead? and use air fryer or turbo?
Very seldom available and if I’m lucky to find is ham hocks. I really would like to subscribe but my problem is, I don’t have a printer😞
I follow and have been enjoying to watch your video. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. My family and I love them🙏🏼
Hi Vickie, pork shoulder could be too lean and not as flavorful as pata. I will recommend the lechon kawali instead, using pork belly.
claire de lun says
Hi there - how come my question is not coming out. I asked what kind of oil you used as mine turned darker than the picture you have.
Hi Clair, I use canola or sunflower oil or vegetable oil for frying.
claire de lun says
Hi there - I've tried a lot of your recipes and they are almost always hit and miss for me. Now this crispy pata is ok but what I am curious about is the color. When I deep fried it, it turned very dark and not like you have in the picture. Is there any specific oil that you use? I used vegetable oil and it turned really dark. Taste really good though.
Yes, some vegetable oils have low smoking point and tend to burn at high heat. You can use canola or sunflower oil as they have higher smoking point.
Hi! I brushed water + baking soda already, now currently in the freezer. When I take it out tomorrow (for Father’s Day lunch), should it be thawed first before applying vinegar + salt then fry? Or all can be done while frozen? Thanks
You were not supposed to freeze it. You just put it in the fridge, not in the freezer.
Regina Iwata says
Hi Bebs, I have done some of your recipes and it’s really good. This one is my favorite but when I checked my ingredients I don’t have lye water or baking soda🥺do you have any other options?
Btw, I already subscribe but still waiting to confirm my subscription 😊
Hi Regina, You should automatically get an email for the confirmation. Did you check your spam folder? Substitute for lye water, I read somewhere that vodka also works..
Hi Bebs. It was my first time to make Crispy Pata and I followed your recipe to the dot. It turned out superb! Thanks for sharing!
Hi! Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Was trying to follow the steps just one question... is it cover until boiling then simmer uncovered or boil uncovered then simmer covered?
Thank you! God bless!
Hi Jon, like what the recipe say, bring to boil then cover, lower the heat so it can simmer while covered.
Is the rock salt used when boiling the pork leg and then regular (assuming table) salt to rub on the skin?
Actually you can use any of the two for both processes, Mark.
Brian Garcia says
Just reading the comments make me wanna try this already! Can I apply this on other stuff like lechon kawali or crispy ulo and stuff like that? I hope you can help me out, I'm thinking of doing this with chicken and beef. I'd like to make all those crispy and cruchy too!🤣 Thank you for sharing! Wish me luck!😁
Hi Brian, sure you can use it for crispy ulo and lechon kawali. I am not so sure about chicken and beef as I have not tried it myself..
Hello po 😊 I wanna try this recipe for my dad, is it juicy and tender in the inside??? 😊 same po ba sila ng texture sa livestock na crispy pata? 😊thank u po God bless 😊
Hi Kyla, I am not familiar with the livestock crispy pata, so I cannot say. Boil the meat to the tenderness you like and proceed as mentioned here.
Hi, can i use turbo broiler instead of deep frying. thanks
Sure you can, Reychel!
Jen Benedicto says
I want to be a great cook with your help.
Hi Jen, hope our recipes would help you with your goal.
mr. li says
do you add the lyewater to the boiling mix . ordo you just brush it on the skin.
Only on the skin.
Thank you Bebs! Masarap malutong! Already subscribed with your page.
Yes it is super crispy! Thanks for subscribing...
It looks so chunchy and delicious!...perfect for this coming holidays!thanks for sharing!
You're absolutely right, Jun! Happy Holidays!
What if you want ti freeze it? Shoukd you apply lye water before or after freezing?
Do it after, then apply while letting it thaw.
can i use baking powder instead