How To Clean And Cook Isaw At Home

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Isaw is a popular street food. Also known as chitterlings or chitlins for the pork version, the bituka ng manok o baboy are just one kind of the many kinds of food on a stick that you might be craving from your favorite street food vendorThe pandemic has forced many of our favorite street food vendors to go beyond their usual wheeled karitons or stalls and be creative to still get their food products to their suki

Are you one of them? If you cannot get your fix of isaw, whether chicken or pork, then you might have to take matters into your own hands. In this case, you'll need to learn how to prepare and cook isaw

No need to panic. You can enjoy street food-level isaw at home that's safely prepared. Here's how to prepare and cook intestines at home: 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana

1 Source intestines from a reputable butcher. 

Why does it need to be from a reputable butcher? The intestines are best when it's from a trusted butcher. They are more likely to partially clean these before you receive them. Not only that, a reputable butcher is sure to have certified and inspected meat that's free of any illnesses and are prepared properly. 

This is important because food poisoning from eating intestines not properly prepared is a possibility. If you have ever suffered from diarrhea or a general stomach ache after eating isaw or other food that had innards, you probably were food poisoned. You can also get sick from salmonella from bituka that was not cleaned and prepared well. 

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2 Use salt, vinegar, and rinse well. 

When you have your bituka, here's how to properly clean it: 

  • 1 Place intestines in a large bowl and place it in the sink.
  • 2 Add about 1/4 cup rock salt and 1 cup vinegar per kilo of intestines you have. 
  • 3 Begin by rubbing the salt and massaging the vinegar into the intestines. Keep doing this until the salt has basically dissolved. 
  • Rinse well. 

You may have to do this process a second or third time if the intestines have a strong odor. The salt is there to rub away any silky substances while the vinegar will remove any odors. Do this until the water runs clear after rinsing. 

Remember to turn the intestines inside out to thoroughly clean the inside and outside. You can also flush it out using running water. You can cut the bituka into smaller pieces for serving to better clean them as needed. 

3 Simmer in water with vinegar (optional).

This next step is to more assuredly remove any smells from the innards as well as begin the tenderizing process if you're cooking the intestines for lugaw, goto, Batangas goto, or making chicharon bulaklak.

To do this properly, here's what to do: 

  • 1 Place the cleaned intestines in a pot and add enough water to cover. Add about 1/4 cup vinegar.
  • 2 Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  • 3 Drain the water then rinse the intestines. Return it back to the pot. 
  • 4 Simmer until tender, another 30 to 40 minutes. 

If not, you are ready to dry the intestines and cut them into the right sizes if you haven't yet. 

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4 Skewer the intestines. 

Use small bamboo skewers for this. For the chicken isaw, you'll need to cut the intestines to the right length as necessary. For the pork isaw, cut into thick slices or rings and skewer the intestine rings. Set aside until ready to grill. 


If desired, marinate the intestines either before or after skewering so the isaw will have its own flavor even before being cooked over charcoal. 

5 Grill! 

Once ready, heat up the electric grill or the charcoal in the outdoor grill and make like the street food vendor you've missed. 

Don't forget to make your sawsawan before your grill so you can allow the flavors to meld before dipping and dunking. You can also make this fishball sauce recipe or even make your own fish balls and sauce, too. 


Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on by submitting your recipe here.

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