19 Mar2009

A Bacolod Lechon

by Marketman

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Our hosts were eager to let me taste a “Bacolod” lechon. From what I understand, there are several versions of lechons in Bacolod, with lechoneros having their own preferred choice or mix of ingredients. The last time our host had a local lechon made, she was surprised by the use of mango leaves, including young mango tree branches in the stomach cavity of the pig. This time around, the lechonero said he was going to use just batuan and tanglad or lemongrass. The photos in this post aren’t attempting to be artsy or unusual, they are simply the result of trying to capture the roasting of a pig over lots of coals in pitch darkness! The surreal bursts of light came from the night watchman’s strong flashlight…

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The first thing I noticed when they cleaned the pig was that the stomach opening wasn’t as large a the lechons we do in Cebu. They also didn’t separate the meat from the ribs as we sometimes do for extra places to add the spices and salt. However, the lechonero did a superb job of slaughtering and dressing this pig.

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Out came two plastic bags, one filled with batuan, a sour fragrant fruit that is common in local cooking, and another of lemongrass. These were stuffed into the pig along with LOTS of fresh banana leaves and rock salt. Nothing else. After sewing up the pig, hot coals were spread out directly on the ground under a nearby tree and the makeshift lechonan was complete.

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The pig was placed VERY LOW to the ground, with the heat of the coals regulated by a rake that pushed the coals closer and closer to the pig to increase the heat. They basted the lechon with vegetable oil throughout the cooking process.

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The resulting lechon was beautifully burnished, with a crisp skin. It was taken off the fire and served to guests within minutes. The scent and flavor of batuan seemed to permeate the meat and even the skin and it provided a counterpoint to the natural fattiness of pork. It was simple, clean and delicious. No fancy stuff, none needed. And NO MSG, which I am realizing is a lot of the “secret ingredient” of commercial Cebuano lechons. If you order a lechon, try asking the vendor to do it with NO MSG and see if that freaks them out… I suspect many lechons won’t taste as umamish with that flavor enhancer…

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Here’s a photo of the contents of the lechon cavity… lots of banana leaves, the whole batuan softened by the roasting and lemongrass back in there somewhere… Yum!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. RoBStaR says:

    MM,

    How do you rate this lechon compared to the ones you have made?

    Mar 19, 2009 | 11:02 am

     
  2. winter says:

    a-ha, something to try when i go back in two weeks! the first time i went (about a month ago), i was armed with a short list — it has now become longer and longer because of your posts. thanks mucho, MM!

    i wonder — how did your bacolod lechon taste compared to cebu’s…?

    Mar 19, 2009 | 11:06 am

     
  3. Maria Clara says:

    I can picture an accuchon lechon cook off will come up in Cebu and batuan is one of the stuffings which will be the lechon of all lechons. Stay tuned! Yes, that’s what my kusinera/kusinero de kampanilya folks always said never cook lechon, barbecue and lechon kawali in its own fat. Vegetable oil must be generously utilized to make the skin and diners happy happy.

    Mar 19, 2009 | 11:07 am

     
  4. Quillene says:

    The lechon shots are very nice, MM! How did you find the lechon compared to your previous experiments?

    Was there a sauce accompaniment to the lechon or is it just enjoyed as is like the Cebu lechon?

    Mar 19, 2009 | 11:08 am

     
  5. Jaja says:

    sarap! Can you do a comparative study of the Bacolod lechon vs. the Lechon that you cooked for the EB or Ab’s visit? =)

    Mar 19, 2009 | 11:51 am

     
  6. Marketman says:

    The lechon was very good. It had the scent and taste of batuan in the meat and skin. It was not overly salty. Different from MM’s Accuchon, but still delicious. Actually, the best advice I can really harp on is to eat a lechon soon after it comes off the fire, never more than 30 minutes after, which is how 95+% of Filipinos unfortunately eat it today. In many cases, they eat it cold. Yuck. Batuan is not readily available in Cebu, so I can’t replicate this recipe easily.

    Mar 19, 2009 | 12:06 pm

     
  7. maricar says:

    Whoohoo! Batuan rules! That is the main difference of the Bacolodnon lechon to other places. Even in the city itself, there are various types of sarsa. I like the one that is not at all the typical liver sauce but a sweetened sauce we get from Mameng’s Lechon in Villamonte, Bacolod. I even mix it with my rice and the lechon ends up not having enough sarsa. I still believe that the best lechon or any meat dish is still best without any condiments or sauces. Love those lechon ears!

    Mar 19, 2009 | 12:13 pm

     
  8. Maria Clara says:

    How about the preserved batuan? My friend have them hoarded -six months before her departure – she has three dozens bottled preserved batuan awaiting her arrival to take them back with her.

    Mar 19, 2009 | 12:23 pm

     
  9. eej says:

    I think this is my kind of lechon. Totally no frills but simply back to basics goodness.

    Two years ago I went back home and had lechon from a local favorite vendor. I find native lechon cloyingly fatty for my taste. I was aghast to see a thick layer of fat attached to the crispy skin when I pulled it from the back of the lechon. I was too scared to go for seconds.

    Mar 19, 2009 | 12:32 pm

     
  10. luna miranda says:

    beautifully glowing lechon…delicious but potentially deadly.:D i’ve always wondered why lechon from Negros tastes different compared to lechon in Cebu or Manila. batuan pala!

    Mar 19, 2009 | 12:39 pm

     
  11. sanojmd says:

    wow, im salivating with all the pictures of the lechon here. i wish it could be easily cook at our backyards here without creating any bushfire.hehehe.. btw, the first photo is so nice..you’re not just a good cook but also a talented photographer. hehehe

    Mar 19, 2009 | 1:11 pm

     
  12. Vicky Go says:

    This much (or little) I remmeber from when they cooked lechon inj our backyard in Cabuyao Laguna: that they stuffed the inside of the pig with the young leaves (talbos) of the tamarind/sampaloc & just plain salt & pepper. And the younger the pig is, the better – less fat, more taste, more skin to meat ratio.

    But I guess, lechon is like adobo – every region has its own way of preparing the dish. All I can say is: Vive la difference!!!

    Mar 19, 2009 | 1:27 pm

     
  13. danney says:

    Same thing in Sta. Ros, Laguna. Folks stuff it with sampaloc talbos. I always like young pigs than mature pigs. Mature pigs has this certain strong pig smell. That was then but now I have less fascination to eating lechon due to its high fat and cholesterol content.

    Mar 19, 2009 | 3:17 pm

     
  14. Celina says:

    Before everyone starts getting excited and wants to jump on the first plane to Bacolod, do research first. Not everyone is a perfect lechon maker. There are lines of lechoneros along Araneta Street but not all of them are going to produce the best kind of lechon. Remember MM had Gaita Fores’ tita to sniff out all the goodies and sukis in Bacolod. It is a great place for eats but would be greater if you know where to go before hand. Happy Eating.

    Mar 19, 2009 | 9:32 pm

     
  15. Gina says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen lechon stuffed with banana leaves. All the other ingredients I can understand but hmmm….banana leaves, I wonder what that does to the flavor?

    Mar 20, 2009 | 1:05 am

     
  16. Maria Clara says:

    Gina: The old school lechoneros in Pampanga that’s all they stuffed their porky mixture of green, yellowish and dried brownish banana leaves the butulan variety banana tree (fruit bears a lots of seeds hence the name) and nothing else. It is very very good. So I imagine combined the banana leaves, batuan and lemongrass together it is a sure winner – jackpot!

    Mar 20, 2009 | 1:19 am

     
  17. Charles Yao says:

    Can anybody refer good Lechon places in Los Angeles?
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Regards,

    Mar 20, 2009 | 1:55 am

     
  18. natie says:

    good luck, charles! i wonder if one could get really good and tasty lechon here in the US..often, lechon ends up as an impressive centerpiece on pinoy parties, with the skin very kunat 50% of the time…pero ubos pa rin kahit d masyadong masarap..just use a lot of sauce..

    Mar 20, 2009 | 5:11 am

     
  19. Lilibeth says:

    Charles: The only lechon place I know in LA is Eva’s Lechon on 4252 W 3rd St., LA and if there is any other place I can go to, I would have because, honestly, their lechon is nothing great – dry and the sauce doesn’t even taste good. I have ordered from them twice for the holidays and the service sucks. Inspite of the fact that it is ordered days in advance, they make me wait almost an hour in the restaurant and they are very rude too. So if you want to try it out, proceed at your own risk :) I have tried cebu lechon in the Philippines and I absolutely like it better than the regular one and I have been craving for it even before seeing Marketman’s photos but just don’t know where to get it here. Does anybody know where I can get a good cebu lechon here in LA? Thanks.

    Mar 20, 2009 | 7:48 am

     
  20. mark fadale says:

    There is just no way anybody is going to convince me that Bacolod lechon tastes better than Cebuano lechon.

    As far as pigs go, here in Iowa, the pigs are raised on corn. The result is a leaner animal with an awesome flavor! MM, before you stated a problem with adding lots and lots of salt. Thats because of the high fat content in the animal.
    The salt absorbs into the melted fats…and drip out of the animal as it cooks.
    Here’s a tastey hint: Rub the meat on the inside of your pig with the salt and pepper first. Then,grind your lemongrass, green onions and garlic in a food processor…then put that into the pigs stomach cavity where you rubbed your salt. The ground vegetable mixture will help absorb and retain the salt flavor.

    Happy cooking!

    Mar 20, 2009 | 8:29 am

     
  21. natie says:

    Lilibeth–lots of lechon outlets here in the Tristate area,Northeast, but the product seems to come from one place—and the outlets also make you wait, esp if it’s a holiday!! one time, a couple customers just walked out angry-

    Mar 20, 2009 | 8:51 am

     
  22. Enrico G. says:

    Hi MM,

    There is a lechon place at manila that uses Batuan. Its Sabroso Lechon..excellent lechon, my family tried it…the best.

    Mar 20, 2009 | 10:03 am

     
  23. Lilibeth says:

    Natie: I wanted to walk out too but I just swallowed my pride because I just needed to have lechon on the table for Christmas :) even if the taste is just “puede pasar”

    Mar 20, 2009 | 10:49 am

     
  24. Jess says:

    Any lechon places in the San Francisco Bay Area? I’d love to try it!

    Mar 20, 2009 | 11:47 am

     
  25. eej says:

    @ Jess: There was a guy that used to be quite famous for his Philippine style lechon business here in the Bay Area. Only late last year, I found out he passed away due to a massive heart attack. He must have had his fair share of lechon in his lifetime.

    You may want to check Ranch 99 and other Asian stores as they typically carry lechon in their deli. I have to warn you before hand that the meat taste like cardboard with anise flavor and the skin tough as leather.

    Mar 20, 2009 | 2:32 pm

     
  26. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Our U.S. counterparts surely crave for lechon. How lucky we are to have this at almost all handaans especially during the Christmas Season.If you crave for it you simply run to a nearby lechonan here in Manila.
    Despite its cholesterol,we find ourselves picking out the crunchy skin…ummmm…and eating the meat with sauce. Ahhh…you dont want to eat it…but you simply must.
    Mm,even if I’ve just eaten dinner,I am craving for lechon.Ha ha ha…

    Mar 20, 2009 | 7:02 pm

     
  27. ted says:

    Jess,
    Try Andrea’s in Vallejo, they are one of the best i’ve tasted in the bay area. They only accept orders for whole lechon for weekend pickup i think. They also have a restaurant with about 40+ dishes every weekend. They sell lechon at their restaurant on weekends and also have the sisig available, you might want to try that too, their sisig is made from lechon’s head. Their sauce is the best i’ve ever tasted in the SF bay area as well. But that’s only my opinion ;-)

    If you google them, it’s Andrea Foods @ 1109 Maple Ave., Vallejo, CA.

    Mar 21, 2009 | 7:23 am

     
  28. angbukaw says:

    Really miss the lechon fr Negros.

    Mar 21, 2009 | 9:34 am

     
  29. leah m says:

    I envy all of you who can just drive and buy lechon almost anytime… we do not have those outlets here in Belgium — although we do have people who prepare whole lechons for parties (costs more than 200 euro’s)…looking forward to attend one of these (with lechon) parties next month.

    Mar 22, 2009 | 7:33 pm

     
  30. yel says:

    MM, i know that this is not the topic at hand pero can you share me the recipe of your recently conquered puto recipe. Yung hindi ube, ordinary lang yung yellowish white. Thanks in advance!

    Mar 23, 2009 | 6:10 am

     
  31. Maria says:

    Hi MM, Any tips for the pre-roast activities- butchering, cleaning the pig, sorting out innards?
    I’m curious about best ways to go about killing the pig..should i hoist it above ground so the blood drips and can be collected, or should i do the slaughtering on a table? Suggestions from any experienced fellow readers would be great as well.

    Mar 24, 2009 | 6:44 am

     
  32. Benedict Nallos says:

    It’s been 2 years that I haven’t eaten lechon in Bacolod. I missed the taste of Bacolod lechon. I was born in Silay City. Right now me and my family lived here in Cebu. Lechon here in Cebu is also good and tasty especially the lechon made by CNT. Looking at those pictures makes me crave for a lechon. hehehe

    Mar 25, 2009 | 10:54 am

     
  33. Janet says:

    In Panay, people use a variety of stuffings for lechon. I know tanglad, banana and tamarind leaves are very popular. Leaves of batwan, siniguelas, samlague and libas trees are used as well. I haven’t heard of anyone using the batwan fruit but i wouldn’t be surprised if they use it there too.

    Jul 31, 2009 | 8:52 pm

     
  34. mark escamilla says:

    i am looking for a job, i am from negros but my recent address are in laguna, magaling po ako mglechon, nghahanap kasi ako ng part time job.

    Nov 19, 2010 | 11:23 am

     
  35. Mari says:

    I’m sorry to say but I find the lechon from Cebu very overrated. What I love about the lechon in Bacolod is the aromatics used – butuan, lemongrass, etc. All this flavor seeps into the meat & you can actually taste it! You don’t need any of the sauces because the meat is so flavorful in itself. The best part of the lechon is the ribs. That’s where you get the most flavor!

    Feb 14, 2011 | 8:40 am

     
  36. Marketman says:

    Mari, I guess it matters which lechon you taste — for me, any lechon made with attention to detail, no msg, and fresh of the fire, regardless of province, tastes great.

    Feb 14, 2011 | 11:52 am

     
 

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