Lechon for those who does not know is a roasted pork dish found in former Spanish colonial countries like Philippines and other Latin American Counties. The term lechon came from the word “leche” which means milk, now how is milk related to lechon? Traditionally they roast suckling pigs hence milk, but nowadays they also use a full mature pig so it can feed more people as this is usually served during special occasions such as wedding and fiestas. To prepare this one is a bit of a chore as you need to have a lot of charcoal and patience rolling the pig manually over a very hot spit, I remember when I used to go to provinces in Philippines people take turns in rolling the pig for hours until the skin turn golden crispy brown. But with today’s technology there are a lot of automated devices to do this task.
Now for this dish we will not roast a whole pig as I don’t have enough family members here to serve it to, neighbours might complain about the smoke, and it’s a very tiresome process. That’s why the Filipinos have invented an easier way of making this dish by just using “kawali” or wok / pan. The effect will be nearly the same where the meat is tender and juicy on the inside and the skin will be crisp, the only difference is the absence of the smoky flavour and the skin is rough in texture compared to the smooth texture of the lechon. This dish is I guess closely related to the famous Chinese Crispy Skin Roast pork and the only difference I guess is the dipping sauce where lechon uses a type of sweet liver gravy. The liver gravy may sound gross but this is really good, you won’t even notice that it is made out of liver, I haven’t made my own version as there is an available sauce that you can easily buy commercially at Asian shops but if you are having some hard time looking for one here are some recipes (1 and 2)
Another unhealthy yet addictive dish so take this in moderation.
1 kg pork belly, (1 big piece, do not slice)
1 whole garlic, crushed
1 tbsp peppercorns
4 pcs laurel leaves
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 can lemonade soda (7-Up or Sprite)
canola or vegetable oil
Mang Tomas All-Purpose sauce
1. Rub sea salt generously on pork belly then cover it tightly with a cling wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least a day.
2. Rinse pork in running water making sure all salt has been cleared from the meat.
3. Place pork in a pressure cooker together with the soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns, laurel leaves and lemonade soda. Now pour enough water just to cover the entire meat.
4. Pressure cook for 30 to 45 minutes, your timing should start when the whistle starts to make sound.
5. While waiting for it to cook, prepare a wok filled with oil and heat it up. Once the pork is tender remove it from the pressure cooker and pat it dry with a paper towel.
6. Now once the surface of the pork is dried place it into the hot oil, skin side down, be really careful as it will splatter.
7. Deep fry the pork until golden brown, this won’t take really long and remember you just want to make the outside crisp; the inner part is already cooked.
8. Once cooked, slice into thin pieces and serve with the lechon sauce.