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Cooking with a cast iron pan isn’t always intuitive. But once you get it right, it can perfect your favorite meals.

In this episode of Cooking Class, host Caitlin Sakdalan makes the classic Filipino dish sisig while sharing her best tips for working with a cast iron skillet.

Sisig comes from the Pampanga region of the Philippines on the island of Luzon. It’s a tapas-like pork belly dish that’s typically served with an ice-cold drink or beer, making it perfect for the warm weather.

“Cast iron skillets are a little less smooth than nonstick cookware,” Sakdalan explains. “This cast iron skillet has superior heat retention and will keep your food longer warmer.”

That makes it perfect for not only cooking your dish but serving it too. And it does a lot more good than that.

“Fun fact: Cooking in an iron skillet can actually increase the iron content of the food by as much as 20 percent,” she says.

To make the dish, Sakdalan boils chopped pork belly for around 30 to 40 minutes. She pours vegetable oil into a skillet then adds the cool and dry pork belly, cooking until it until it is brown and crispy.

When the pork belly is nice and crispy, Sakdalan adds chopped onions and garlic. She lets it cook down in the oil and pork fat for a few minutes. This oil and pork fat will add to the overall “seasoning” of the cast iron. But what exactly does that mean?

“Seasoning equals flavor,” she explains. “Pre-seasoning your pan means allowing a natural build-up of oils to get on the outside of the pan so you get a naturally nonstick surface — and you get all this flavor and oil build-up that helps you as you’re cooking.”

To complete the sisig, Sakdalan adds liver paste, lemon juice, soy sauce, ginger and spicy green chilies. Then she stirs the ingredients together. To finish things off she tops the dish with scallions and serves it in the sizzling skillet.

“We wouldn’t have gotten this flavor or texture without a cast iron skillet,” Sakdalan says.

If you don’t yet own a cast iron pan, check out these top-rated options to get in on the hype.

FINEX Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet With Lid, $200+

Credit: Williams Sonoma

Credit: Williams Sonoma

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Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, $17.90 (Orig. $26.68)

Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

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Matheson Cookware Cast Iron, $250

Credit:Matheson Cookware

Credit:Matheson Cookware

Buy Now

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