Crispy Pata (Filipino Ham Knuckle) recipe.

Crispy Pata (Filipino Ham Knuckle) recipe.

Crispy Pata (Filipino Ham Knuckle) recipe.
nutritional information (per serving)

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nutritional information
Servings: 4
amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 34g172%
480 mg160%
3114 mg135%
dietary fiber 2g6%
total sugar 2g
Vitamin C 8 mg39%
Calcium 179 mg14%
iron 11 mg59%
Potassium 2419 mg51%
*The % Daily Value (DV) indicates how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories per day is used for general nutritional advice.

(Nutritional information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Crispy pata is a Filipino dish you'll find at parties or at your local eatery as pulutan, something you order when out drinking with friends. It means crispy leg, more specifically ham knuckle, also known as pork knuckle.

The Legendary Story of Crispy Pata

According to legend, the dish was created at a restaurant called Barrio Fiesta outside of Manila. The owner's son brought his friends in after school and gave them food without charging anything in return. One day his mother noticed that ham shanks weren't used for any items on the menu in the kitchen and fried them to save money. And so a new fried delicacy was born.

Which cut of pork should you use?

In the United States, the cut of pork sold as a “ham hock” is often small and smoked. For this recipe you will need a fresh pork leg or shank, preferably with the foot still attached. To source this special cut, find a good butcher who cuts up whole animals, or a local pig farmer who would sell you this cut.

Steps to Success: Braising, Drying and Frying

There are a few key steps involved in the cooking process: braising, frying, and patience. Ham shank, or the bottom half of the pork leg, isn't the fattiest cut of pork, but it's covered with skin and is high in collagen. Such cuts require a longer cooking time to break down the collagen, resulting in juicy and flavorful meat.

After stewing, the pork leg needs to dry so that the skin becomes crispy and doesn't splatter too much when frying. Patience is required here, as it's best to let the braised shank dry overnight before proceeding to the final step – frying.

To fry the pork shank, make sure you use enough oil and a deep, heavy pot like a Dutch oven. To determine how much oil to use, place the pork shank in the saucepan and add oil until it comes 2/3 to 3/4 past the rim of the meat. Then remove the meat and heat the oil.

If you put the pork leg in the hot oil, the temperature will drop. To mitigate this, you can heat the oil just above 365°F (370 to 375°F) and then as you add the pork leg to the oil, increase the heat to high until the temperature has recovered. However, be sure to keep a close eye on the temperature to avoid overshooting.

If you follow the steps below, you'll be rewarded with crispy skin, tender meat, and lots of happy faces.

“It may take a while to cook and prepare, but it's definitely worth it for the flavorful, crispy skin that infuses the flavors. Be careful not to drop the temperature of your oil too much the first time you put the ham shank in the pot or it won't be crispy enough.” — Julia Hartbeck

For the crispy Pata:

  • 1 fresh pork leg (the ankle to the foot), 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 Pound

  • 3 stems lemongrasscrushed

  • 2 Middle onionspeeled and quartered

  • 5 cloves Garliccrushed

  • 1 tablespoon completely black peppercorns

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 tablespoon diamond crystal kosher salt

  • 2 to 4 quarts Wateror enough to cover the hock

  • 2 to 4 quarts vegetable oilfor roasting, or enough to reach 3/4 of the sides of the pork thigh

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 Cup cane vinegar

  • 1/4 Cup i am willow

  • 3 Thai chiliescut

Note: Although this recipe has multiple steps, this dish is broken down into workable categories to help you plan your prep and cooking.

Make the crispy pata

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a Dutch oven, add pork thigh, lemongrass, onions, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, salt and water.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat so it is gently simmering. Cook until meat is tender but not falling apart, 2 to 3 hours.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Remove the pork leg from the braising liquid and place on a cooling rack on a baking sheet.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. When the meat is cool enough to handle, pierce the skin all over with a paring knife or the tines of a fork. Store uncovered in the refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours or overnight.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and save for use as a soup base or for recipes that call for broth.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Place the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Heat the oil to 365 F.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Gently lower the ham shank into the saucepan and cook, turning once or twice, until golden and crispy all over, 15 to 20 minutes. As you fry, keep an eye on the temperature of the oil and adjust the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of around 365 F.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Remove the ham shank from the oil and place on a rack to drain excess oil.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck

Make the dipping sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, and Thai chilies in a small bowl. Serve with the crispy pata.

    The spruce eats / Julia Hartbeck


  • Make sure the pork leg is dry before placing it in hot oil, otherwise the oil will splatter.
  • If you pierce the skin around the entire length of the pork leg with a paring knife, the skin will release fat and become very crispy when roasted.
  • As you drop the pork leg into the hot oil, the temperature of the oil will drop quickly. To help the oil temperature recover quickly, increase the heat to high as soon as you add the pork to the oil. Be sure to monitor the oil temperature throughout the frying process and stay as close to 365°F as possible.

Go on

  • The dipping sauce can be made up to two days in advance.

recipe variations

  • Rice wine vinegar can also be used for the dipping sauce instead of sugar cane vinegar.

How to store it

  • Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container and reheat in the oven.
  • The strained braising liquid can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

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