A staple of Filipino breakfasts, longanisa’s fatty, sweet qualities pair well with silky eggs and juicy vinegar-soaked tomato—all of which makes for a great breakfast sandwich. So why not eat it all the time?
Breakfast sandwiches are forgiving. There’s no grand occasion that calls for them, but it does the trick every time you’re hankering for some amalgam of fat and carbs. They’re loosely formulaic and tend to include some permutation of bacon, sausage, cheese, or egg. Slap it together with a slice of brioche, a multigrain roll, or even those ends of a bread loaf that no one ever really wants to eat. Slather on some garlic aioli, drench it in Tabasco, or add nothing at all. Taking those components into consideration, I’ve found that my own best breakfast sandwiches have been hastily thrown together from elements of a Filipino pantry—longanisa sausage, soft scrambled eggs, and pandesal.
Longanisa, links of pork sausage found at most Asian grocers, is a mainstay at the Filipino breakfast table, often in the form of longsilog, a shortened term for a dish that consists of longanisa, sinangag (fried rice), pritong itlog (fried egg). There are two types of the sausage: de recado, with a heavier garlic flavor, and hamonado, a sweeter variation, but I often opt for the latter. From the oozing egg yolk to crispy bits of garlic rice to the side of fresh tomatoes, each element of longsilog lends itself well to a bite of longanisa’s porky sweetness, speckled with char after pan-frying.
Translating longsilog into sandwich form is simple—swap the rice for bread. Enter pandesal, a humble, slightly sweet Filipino roll that’s used as a vehicle for everything from ube jam to ice cream. These pillowy slider-sized buns are sprinkled with breadcrumbs on the outside, adding a grittiness similar to cornmeal on an English muffin or crunchy pizza crust. Plus, their small size makes them the perfect nest for medallions of pan-fried longanisas.
Instead of frying an egg, I soft scramble them, adding a bit of melted cheddar cheese for extra saltiness. Cooking the eggs slowly over low heat while stirring constantly yields a silky texture that coats the sausage like gravy. To top it off, garnish with a simple salsa made with diced tomato, onion, and white vinegar for acidity, a pillar of Filipino cuisine and a quality you might otherwise get from dousing your bodega sandwich in hot sauce.
There’s no ground-breaking technique or wild flavor combination here. But when you’re biting into this breakfast sandwich on a Sunday morning, it’s exactly what your body craves: fat, carbs, and protein. It’s just as appropriate to eat a longanisa sandwich en route to work and wrapped in aluminum foil, as it is to whip up a platter of them for a more official, sit-down brunch affair, or tout it as a quick hangover fix. It’s inherently a comfort food, no childhood nostalgia required. There’s that sweet satisfaction of a hearty, juicy sandwich and a bit of grease and mess that’s familiar to everyone.