Deep-fried pork hock

Deep-fried pork hock

Crispy pata

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

One always remembers one’s first crispy pata. Mine was at Bistro Remedios. I chanced upon the famed Manila restaurant with a visiting French friend and we chose the dish for sheer love of its nickname ‘Knockout Knuckles’. Unctuous meat, gelatinous fat and crunchy rind collided in the first bite. ‘Where have you been all my life?’ I wondered, dumbstruck, irrevocably taken by this dish.

This dish is literally just deep-fried pork hock, but not all crispy patas are made equal; multiple steps are required to achieve the requisite tender flesh and ultra-crisp skin. Be very careful at the deep-frying stage; if the pork isn’t dry enough, moisture will cause the oil to spit. Try Atcharang Papaya for another classic sawsawan partner to crispy pata.


Quantity Ingredient
1.5kg pork hock
1 garlic bulb, cloves peeled and smashed
1 large onion, quartered
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fine salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
3 red bird’s-eye chillies, (optional)
Crisp-fried garlic
Soy, vinegar and chilli dipping sauce
steamed rice, to serve


  1. To par-cook the pork, place the hock in a large, deep saucepan and pour in enough cold water to cover. Bring to the boil over high heat, skimming any scum from the surface. Add the garlic, onion, bay leaves, salt and peppercorns. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 2–21⁄2 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender and almost falling off the bone. Using tongs, transfer the pork to a shallow dish and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight to dry. Strain the stock, discarding the solids, and place in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for another use, if desired.
  2. To deep-fry the pork, remove it from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 1 hour. Fill a large, deep saucepan half-full with vegetable oil and place over medium heat until it reaches 150ºC. Pat the pork dry with paper towel. Gently lower the pork, outer leg side down, into the hot oil and deep-fry for 15 minutes, turning once, or until the meat is light golden and the skin is slightly blistered (cover with a lid to prevent the oil spitting, and take care!). Remove the pork from the oil and drain on paper towel. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. The pork can be prepared up to this stage and refrigerated or frozen for later use. Bring back to room temperature before re-frying.
  3. Heat the oil to 190º . Gently lower the pork into the hot oil and deep-fry for a further 5–7 minutes, turning once, until the meat is dark golden and the skin is really blistered and crisp. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towel. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, deep-fry the chillies, if using, by gently dropping them into the oil and deep-frying briefly for 1 minute, or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
  5. To serve, place the pork on a chopping board. Using a large, sharp knife, cut through the skin to the bone, then repeat on the other side. Prise the meat from the bone in two large pieces, using the knife to help if necessary. Place the bone in the centre of a serving platter. Cut the skin and meat into large chunks, and arrange around the bones. Scatter over the crisp-fried garlic and top with the deep-fried chillies. Serve the crispy pata with dipping sauce and steamed rice.

Where does it come from?

  • Pata, derived from Spanish, is Filipino for pork leg. Depending on where you shop, the cut used is also called pork hock, shank or knuckle. This deep-fried delicacy became a hit in the 1960s and has remained a restaurant darling to this day. Another favourite of mine is at Bob Marlin in Legaspi City, where it is a signature dish. According to Filipino food authority, Claude Tayag, it is claimed that crispy pata was invented in 1958 by Rodolfo Ongpauco, son of Barrio Fiesta Restaurant founder Sixta ‘Mama Chit’ Evangelista Ongpauco.
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