Insarabasab / Sarabasab

A long long time ago when the Austronesians, people from the islands of Southeast Asia and Oceanic, migrated to the island of the Philippines circa 3200 BCE, they brought with them the one of the most common and age-old way of cooking by directly roasting the meat of their hunted animals to an open fire and then spice it with easy to find herb ingredient and condiment such as onion from the habitat, citrus fruit from a tree, and salt from the sea. And so here comes the birth and idea of Insarabasab recipe.

Insarabasab or Sarabasab is an Ilocano dish where pork's meat is roasted over to an open fire. Insarabasab is an Ilocano term meaning, " something burned from an open fire". Simply said in laymen and culinary term as, "meat roasted directly from an open fire". In the old days, the Ilocanos use the fire of dry logs or firewood to roast the meat of pig in their dalikan which is the traditional Ilocano stove or cooking place. The meat is cut into thin slices, spiced with salt and pepper, vinegar, and then mixed with slices of onion. The dish is served with steamed rice and basi, an Ilocano sweet red wine made from sugar cane. When I was young, I saw this recipe being prepared by folks in the beautiful beaches of La Union province in the Philippines. I have personally tasted this Ilocano delicacy and it's yummy!

Time goes by so is the development of cooking this recipe. Instead of using an open fire for roasting, charcoal grilling became more graceful and civilized as replacement, then comes the electric grill in the patio near the swimming pool which is very modern and high tech. Insarabasab which once serve with basi, is now served with beer, wine, and cocktail by some folks in gatherings and special occasions while they carry on their friendly chats and mini conversations here in Los Angeles.

Sarabasab Photo

Insarabasab Photo

Insarabasab Ingredients

  • 1 kilo pork (shoulder preferred)
  • 1 onion; thinly sliced
  • Vinegar / lemon / calamansi juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Insarabasab Cooking Instructions

  1. Slice the pork 1” thick for roasting.
  2. Roast pork over to an open fire until all pink color of the meat disappears.
  3. When roasted, slice pork again into 1/4" thick x 1" length (or your desired sizes).
  4. Place in a bowl and then add the onion.
  5. Season with salt, pepper, and vinegar (lemon or kalamansi juice) according to taste.