Crispy Pata: Crispy on the Outside, Juicy on the Inside

Crispy Pata

Crispy Pata is a popular Filipino pork dish which is usually served on special occasions. It is always found on the daily menu of most Filipino restaurants. It can also be served at home any day but those who are watching their cholesterol intake do avoid daily consumption of this dish.

Pata is Tagalog for pork leg, either hind leg or the front leg. Crispy pata is deep fried pork leg which should be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

But it is not as simple as dipping the pork leg into hot oil. The pork leg must be boiled until tender, dried or cooled down before deep frying.

  • 1 pata (front or hind leg), whole including knuckles
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 medium size onions, quartered
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns, whole
  • 2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 4 pcs bay leaves
  • 2 pcs pork cubes
  • oil for deep frying
  • water for boiling
  1. Clean pork leg thoroughly. With a knife, scrape off any hair left on skin. Make a few cuts on the skin of the pata to absorb the flavors while boiling.
  2. In a big pot, bring to a boil water enough to cover the pork. Add salt, onions, crushed garlic, peppercorns, ground peppers, bay leaves, and pork cubes.
  3. Add in the pork leg and let boil for a few minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes or until meat is tender. You can add more water if needed. Depending on the size of the pata, it may take more time to tenderize the meat but it should not be overly tender.
  4. Remove pata from the pot. Let cool and put in the chiller for at least 2 hours. Some would refrigerate the boiled pata overnight for a crispier skin.
  5. When ready to deep fry, make sure the pata is dry. Prick the skin all over and rub with salt before deep frying. You can also use the combination of salt, garlic powder, and ground pepper to rub your pork leg. One recipe uses fish sauce as rub, then adds a sprinkle of flour. You can always experiment to suit your taste.
  6. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Deep fry pork leg for 20 minutes, turning as needed. Be extra careful when dropping your pata into the hot oil or when turning the pata over to avoid the splashing hot oil. Always have the pot cover ready.
  7. When golden brown, remove from heat and transfer to a serving plate. Best eaten with a dipping sauce. Popular sauce for crispy pata is a mixture of vinegar, onions, crushed garlic, ground pepper, soy sauce, and chili peppers.
Vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, onions, and chili peppers for crispy pata sauce
Vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, onions, and chili peppers for crispy pata sauce
Prep time: 2 hours 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour 10 min
Ready in: 3 hours 25 min
Yields: 3-4

Prep time includes 2 hours chilling. Cooking time includes boiling and frying.

Crispy pata is best among Filipino beer drinkers that it is sometimes called “beer food” or pulutan in Tagalog.

There are recipes for crispy pata which call for 24 hours air-drying instead of refrigeration for a more crispy skin. Other flavorings added to the water when boiling pata are soda pop (Sprite or 7Up), baking soda, star anise, celery, soy sauce, and oyster sauce.

As with many Filipino dishes, there is not one standard recipe to follow exactly, as long as the basics are there.

The already popular crispy pata has now leveled up to the boneless crispy pata. As far as I am concerned, the bones are so much a part of the charm of the crispy pork leg. Now, instead of just boiling and deep frying, there is another procedure added, that of deboning the swine leg.

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