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When we announced that we now have Longaniza Depot at FrozenMNL, we sold out FAST!
There's no doubt about it, Filipinos love longganisa. And based on our conversation with Longaniza Depot owner himself, Jon Sunico, it's actually like the "Adobo" of Filipino breakfasts-- people from all over the country have their own take.
Some come in different shapes, some have more fat, some are packed with garlic, and some are made with beef rather than pork.
Now, let's see which flavors come from which region, shall we?
Here's our conversation with Jon Sunico of Longaniza Depot
FrozenMNL: Can you tell us more about you and why you ventured into food?
Jon: My family is really into the food business, so early on I became exposed to catering and food concessions.
Our goal is to bring all the different and popular varieties from regions across the country and cater to clients online or through community marketplaces.
This way, they won’t need to talk to individual suppliers or travel to a certain region just to buy the product.
FrozenMNL: When did you start Longaniza Depot?
Jon: Actually it just started this April. I’m one of those entrepreneurs who were affected when food concessions and catering businesses closed. So I was thinking of something that I can come up with during lockdown-- something that I can do while I’m at home.
That’s why I decided to open my dream company that carries different varieties of Longganisa!
FrozenMNL: That’s great! So we’re longganisa lovers as well. But we’re curious, why do you think Filipinos love Longganisa?
Jon: We love longganisa because of the variety of flavors that are available in their regions. For example, Vigan is known for their garlic taste. If you want sweet longganisa, this is a speciality of Cebu. Longganisa lets us play with our taste buds.
FrozenMNL: Speaking of “variety of flavors”, how do we identify the flavors of Philippine longganisa, specifically those carried by Longaniza Depot?
Jon: So we have 8 varieties. Each has a distinct taste and itsura. Most of them are based on pork, Our regions have learned to adopt the recipes of others. For example, in Cabanatuan or Tuguegarao, their original Batutay (beef longganisa) also comes in sweet or garlicky flavors.
FrozenMNL: Now, why do some variants come in different sizes?
Jon: Yung size, kanya: kanya yan eh. Most of the Longganisa are made using the hog casing from intestines. You can come up with a small version, a round version or a fat version. The size variation is people’s way of distinguishing their Longganisa from other Longganisas.
For me, size doesn't really matter: it's really more of the ingredients or the kind of longganisa that people promote.
FrozenMNL: You mentioned the pork intestine casing, Does it really have to be that ingredient?
Jon: There’s a skinless version that doesn't use any casing besides the usual one with hog casing. The majority uses hog casing in creating Longganisa. Parang tinatali sya ng string to connect them to one another.
The process of making hog intestines starts with cleaning it, then you have to dry it or hang it for 2 to 3 days in sunlight. Para mas matigas sya so it won’t break when you're cooking it.
FrozenMNL: Actually in our own homes, we love Longganisa. There are so many ways to cook it. Is there a right way to cook it or does it have to be tustado?
Jon: Not really. Tustado is just the standard way of cooking longganisa. Another way is to take it from the freezer, put water until it covers the sausage halfway and then cook it in low heat. Then you can cover it and simmer for around 10 to 15 minutes until water evaporates. Once the water evaporates, you pan fry it.
You don’t need to use oil because you can cook the Longganisa in its own fat., If you find that there is less fat rendered, you can then add oil and stir until it’s golden brown.
FrozenMNL: Oh! So this is why some Longganissaa contain more fat in them! Parang fat makes it more flavorful too?
Jon: Yes! Pork fat is really part of Longganissa. Cebu Longganisa or chorizo is known for that because they add more fat than other regions. Normally it’s 1 ground pork and half of the fat. They put bigger quantities of fat so mas nakikita siya, compared to other regions which grind the pork meat and the fat together.
FrozenMNL: Oh wow! Now I also notice that some variants have a distinct color, like Lucban: it’s…”pinkier”.
Jon: Right. For example, Tuguegarao longganisa is more orange because the people put atsuete to the mix. With the Lucban variety it’s the touch of oregano they put that makes it different.
FrozenMNL: We’re getting hungry just thinking about this, TBH. But it’s past breakfast time. Maybe we’ll have longga na lang tomorrow morning.
Jon: We're known for eating longganisa for breakfast, but it can actually be enjoyed at any time of the day! Eat it when you crave it. Some restaurants even use Longganisa as their base for pasta so they put some slices of Cebu chorizo or Lucban in the sauce. This adds flavor to the pasta.
FrozenMNL: Oh yeah, we’ve definitely tried one of those. Hmmm...can we use Longganisa in making sandwiches?
Jon: It can be. Just note that when you cut the Longganisa magiging durog siya because it’s round and full of fat . I know there are people who call it Longganisang durog because it’s not contained by the hog skin anymore. Ang dating, parang corn beef. Usually nasisira yung casing.
FrozenMNL: Okay. That makes us curious about the ingredients again. We’ve talked about the casing, the pork, or beef: what other protein do people use?
Jon: Now meron nang ibang meat na ginagamit. May version na tayo ng chicken Longganisa. In Davao there is tuna longganisa. We’ve also mentioned the Batutay of Cabanatuan.
The main ingredients stay more or less the same: garlic, pepper, sugar, and a bit of vinegar. With Taal medyo distinct yung variant nila kasi they put black pepper besides garlic.
Then in Tuguegarao they put atsuete. In Lucban they put a touch of oregano. So iyon, there’s that effort of twist to make it different from the rest. This goes for shape as well. A Lucban type is a longer version na payat na maliit compared to the regular oblong Longganisa. The Cebu type is known for its round shape.
FrozenMNL: How about Calumpit and Alaminos? We can’t tell them apart easily.
Jon: Yung Alaminos very distinct lang sya kasi they use the bamboo string. So when they pack it, parang may toothpick sa magkabilang dulo. The Calumpit doesn’t have any coloring so white: grayish color lang siya. It does use a garlic base though.
FrozenMNL: So for you Jon, we know you don’t like to play favorites...but if you had to pick one?
Jon: I’m more of a garlic type of person, so I’d pick Vigan types. Sometimes I prefer chorizo if I crave something sweet.
FrozenMNL: How about your favorite way of cooking it?
Jon: I still stick with the usual. I want yung loob mismo to be cooked well. Sometimes there is a tendency in grilling na yung loob hindi pa masyado cooked and it’s just the outside that’s being cooked.
FrozenMNL: We agree, the classic way of cooking makes us appreciate the flavor and texture of the longga best Okay, now for a bit of insider info… what should we watch out for? WIll there be more variants from Longaniza Depot?
Jon: Yes! We do have exciting plans. Once Taal is in, we'll also start carrying Baguio Longganisa.
Actually...people from various regions have reached out to us regarding selling their varieties. We have contacts from Baliwag, Negros, Cordillera, and Albay but we need to taste test these varieties first.
Longaniza Depot will keep on searching for new varieties. We will make sure we feature different choices for our dear customers. Soon we might come up with sampler packs, with each having 2 or 3 kinds of longganisa. This should let us enjoy different types while saving on freezer space.
FrozenMNL: That’s so smart kasi that’s what most of our customers struggle with too...freezer space. Okay, we’re excited for sampler packs!
Jon: Oo this helps free up your freezer space because you won’t have to choose kung anong variety pack ang bibilhin. We want our customers to eat original longganisa that feels like they’re travelling to our regions and tasting the varieties there. Cebu, Vigan, whatever you like.
FrozenMNL: We really like how you appealed to travelling through our taste buds especially now that we have travel restrictions. We can really travel through food ‘no?
Jon: Yes. And maybe one of these days, pag wala na itong lockdown, we can really explore the Philippines and check the different kinds of longganisa.
FrozenMNL: Indeed. We are very excited for this. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk!
Jon: Thank you, too!
This conversation has been edited and condensed.