Shrimps & Chorizo by Mayette M. Garcia.
“Purefoods Chorizo Bilbao Style”
Originating from the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal), chorizo refers to several types of pork sausages. It’s the favorite sausage of paella makers.
In the Philippines, the most common type is called chorizo de bilbao, or simply chorizo bilbao, named after the Basque region of Spain. (The city of Bilbao is regarded as the capital of the Basque Country.)
The particular brand of chorizo bilbao that is so popular in the Philippines was never produced by anyone in Spain. A Filipino businessman surnamed Genato merely labeled it that way and even came up with the Marca El Rey name for his pork sausage spiked with paprika. He later moved to the United States and sold off his recipe to an American company, which is to say this Filipino favorite is now likely processed in the state of Nebraska, Ohio or Illinois. Armour-Eckrich Meats LLC is based in Cincinnati, OH.
Marca El Rey used to come in cans packed with lard, in gallon and half-gallon sizes. Today, the chorizos are available in vacuum-sealed plastic packs, like you see in the photo.
Current ingredients list: Pork, Beef, Salt, Paprika, Contains 2% Or Less of Dextrose, Flavoring, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Sodium Nitrite, BHA, BHT, Citric Acid.
Each 28-gram serving contains 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of Saturated Fat (25% of Daily Value), and 520 milligrams of Sodium (22 % of DV).
A lower-end knockoff called Señor El Rey is produced by an American company in Anaheim, California. Many Filipino Americans have been duped into thinking that Marca El Rey and Señor El Rey are one and the same, or at least related. They are not. Despite the very similar green color and royal theme of the packaging, Señor El Rey is made by an unaffiliated entity that is presumably surfing on the longstanding goodwill of the original premium Marca El Rey.
And another company — Martin Purefoods (which similarly has caused many Filipino Americans to assume it’s related to San Miguel Purefoods, though it is absolutely not) — also makes chorizos and packages them in the familiar green and gold colors.
The usual ingredients for Filipino-style choriso: pork, beef, sea salt, nonfat dry milk, dextrose, paprika (pimentón), garlic, spices, oleoresin of paprika, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, BHT, BHA, and lactic acid starter culture.
The hotdog-like franks in the photo above are Marca El Rey chorizo sausages out of the package.
How is chorizo used in Philippine cuisine?
The sausages can be eaten fried by themselves, or served alongside bread and eggs for breakfast. Sliced crosswise, they can be an added ingredient to tofu, rice, Italian pasta, and Chinese noodle dishes like pancit, as well as more specifically to Spanish-inspired Filipino dishes like estofado and morcon.
The Guam Connection
Chorizo bilbao is also a favorite in Chamorro dishes of the Marianas Islands. In fact, you can buy a three-pound bag for $19.99 from their Payless Markets.
Online stores that sell Marca El Rey:
* To learn about the difference between Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo, visit this page.
Recipe books say that when you cannot find the Filipino-style Marca El Rey product, you can substitute either Chinese sausage or the Goya brand of vacuum-packed chorizos.