I'm Eating What?! "Authentic" Filipino Cracklins

Categories: Ethical Eating
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Photos by Eric Barton
They're Filipino, they're fried, and they're pure fat.

My first experience with cracklins came when I moved to Houma, Louisiana, after college. I'd make the hour drive to New Orleans on weekend nights, and along the way, there were two important stops: the drive-through daiquiri shop and one of the gas stations where they'd cook up Cajun finger foods. At the gas stations, they served amazing shrimp boudin and Cajun-flavored cracklin. Ah, there's nothing quite like downing a piña colada while crunching on spicy, fried pork skin.

The bag of Super-Sarap cracklins I picked up recently at a Filipino market look
fairly similar to
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those Cajun ones. The label describes them simply as "Fried out pork fat with attached skin." Now, I like pork fat and dig pork skin, but there's something not so appetizing about that sentence.

The result of that attached skin is a shoe-leather-looking layer on some of the pieces. With the bumpy exterior, it looks more like tripe (the only food to date that I refuse to eat again).

The package also promises that these cracklins are an "authentic Filipino recipe," so I'm expecting something spicy or covered in chili powder.

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Instead, the cracklin is similar to the plain ones eaten across the South. They've got that unmistakable crunch of deep-fried pork fat. They taste like the lard layer on the outside of bacon, and with one piece, the outside of my mouth feels fairly coated with grease. It's a good feeling, really.

Who should eat these? Anyone with a large daiquiri to finish and a long drive to New Orleans ahead.

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