08 May2012

Nope, no otherworldly intervention that I know of when it comes to cooking our lechons… Just a lot of honest, hard work. Start with a good pig, not from a commercial piggery if possible. Fatten it up and calm it down by overseeing its last few weeks of life in comfortable and pleasant surroundings with lots of good food. Slaughter it as humanely as you can slaughter humanely, that’s any oxymoron of sorts, I guess. Stuff it with abundant, fresh, flavorful ingredients and natural sea salt (not iodized, and definitely no MSG) and baste it with fresh coconut water and olive oil over a carefully tended charcoal fire. No painting the skin with soy sauce or other ingredients, and don’t worry if the skin looks puffy and irregular. Focus less on the appearance and more on taste. That’s all there is to it.

Folks keep asking “so what’s the secret?” and there isn’t any. Long-time readers of the blog know how this all started, and it goes back years to that very first time I asked “why don’t lechons today taste like they used to?” and from there a series of experiments yielded the lechon we cook and sell today at Zubuchon. Then again, who knows, I wouldn’t put it past my grandmother or mother to keep a really close eye on the lechonan, making sure most (nope, not all) of the lechons would pass muster if they were around to taste them. And with the sunlight piercing through the smoke as it does in these photos, above, it’s a nice thought… :)



  1. rac says:

    thy pigdom come…thy will be done!

    May 8, 2012 | 4:55 am


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  3. Footloose says:

    Easy for you to say. Imparting an original recipe is difficult and fraught with doubt, hesitation and pain. It’s like somebody else liking the way your fingers zip through the Minute Waltz in fifty-eight seconds and asking you how you do it. If their piano skill is not up to it, their rendition comes out sounding like Chopsticks.

    May 8, 2012 | 5:52 am

  4. scott says:

    MM, What a nice picture with the thought of your Grandmother and Mother looking down…. having only lived here in the Philippines for just a month now, I cannot even imagine how HOT!!! it must be in that room cooking the lechon.

    May 8, 2012 | 7:50 am

  5. Cecile says:

    yes, only long time readers and lurkers/silent readers like me knows how Zubuchon came to be. kaya nga i’m so proud whenever i get the chance to tell acquaintances of what i know about Zubuchon. parang nakita ko kung pano ito ipinaglihi, ipinagbuntis, sayang lang i was not there nang mag- grand intro! at hindi ko pa ito natitikman! hay!

    May 8, 2012 | 7:59 am

  6. Jeff says:

    We just had a pack of Zubuchon Lechon which my brother-in-law brought from Cebu last Sunday for lunch! And it was heaven!

    May 8, 2012 | 8:01 am

  7. PITS, MANILA says:

    They’re still watching over you, MM. It’s very comforting. Remembering Anthony Bourdain’s “best pig ever.” — I agree!

    May 8, 2012 | 8:55 am

  8. millet says:

    the most difficult things to cook are those that have no secret ingredients or techniques.

    May 8, 2012 | 10:22 am

  9. gensanite says:

    dined at zubuchon-mango branch last sunday evening, and was surprised that the lechon skin was not pricked… just wondering… but as always, the flavors in the lechon just plays in your mouth… sinful and satisfying… hehehe… :)

    May 8, 2012 | 11:13 am

  10. gigie says:

    Sir have you seen the lechon outlet in Market!Market! grocery area, near the escalator? They said their lechons come direct from Cebu too….was hoping there will be a Zubuchon outlet in Manila soon…just a thought!

    May 8, 2012 | 12:30 pm

  11. nessa says:

    Hi MM, is there a vegetarian option on your menu? Pardon for the odd request. My friends and I will be visiting Cebu. Of course I have to demand that we visit Zubuchon. However, one of my friends is lacto ovo vegetarian. :) Thanks.

    May 8, 2012 | 12:59 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    nessa, we do have some dishes that are vegetarian, like a tomato and tinapa salad, hold the tinapa if she doesn’t eat seafood. We have a shrimp sinigang. A kalabasa soup, ask them to hold lechon flakes in topping, lots of shakes, desserts, etc. But honestly, it might not be the best selection for a vegetarian… :) gigie, yes, I have seen that lechon outlet, and they are flown from one of the larger manufacturers in cebu that cook in bulk. gensanite, there are parts of the skin that sometimes appear unpricked, but probably were, the air just didn’t get under the skin to puff it out. But most of the time, the pigs are pricked or skin puffed, not smooth. scott, it is brutally hot. I can barely stand beside the lechon pits for 2 minutes if they are roasting… Footloose, thanks.

    May 8, 2012 | 2:03 pm

  13. Papa Ethan says:

    The bottom photo is simply magical!

    May 8, 2012 | 2:17 pm

  14. joey says:

    Gorgeous photos MM! I love how special they make the lechons look :) As they are special! What a lot of people take for granted nowadays is that some of the most important “ingredients” in good food/cooking are free…love, patience, dedication, honesty :) Reading this post made me remember when someone asked me what the secret was to my callos and I said “love and patience”…and thinking back on it now I realize how true that really is :)

    May 8, 2012 | 2:24 pm

  15. MP says:

    Nessa, your vegetarian friend will love the kalabasa soup and iba shake (among other veggie options), I guarantee you that.

    May 8, 2012 | 2:49 pm

  16. lee says:

    I was in Cebu last weekend and the trip was capped with an excellent early Saturday dinner just before the dinner crowd came in. We had Kalabasa soup, pickle platter, Zubuchon, and Iba shake. Namit!!!

    May 8, 2012 | 2:52 pm

  17. Nach says:

    I miss Zubuchon! Last time I had it was over a year ago. MM, hope that you’ll seriously consider opening a Manila outlet soon! :-)

    May 8, 2012 | 4:04 pm

  18. Lorraine says:

    Hi MM, it’s my first time to comment here, though I’ve been a lurker for more than a year (I think). Lovely photos! I was in Leyte last week and enjoyed freshly cooked lechon. As I was nibbling on this glorious piece of crispy lechon skin, my cousin mentioned that one of the secrets to getting crispy lechon skin is basting it with Coke. Your lechons look appetizing as is but have you tried it on one of your pigs before? :)

    May 8, 2012 | 5:16 pm

  19. Lorraine says:

    Hehe I Googled and the first hit was one of your lechon chronicles some years ago. A commenter said it’s customary for Visayans to baste lechon with Coke, so there’s the answer to my question. I’d just like to say how lovely those photos are and it’s clever of you to use coconut water! It makes your lechon all the more special. :)

    May 8, 2012 | 5:31 pm

  20. melanie says:

    I love those shots with the sun rays ‘blessing’ the lechons! Aww, remembering your lola and your mom being there for your lechonan is so apt for the coming Mother’s day! More power to Zubuchon!

    May 8, 2012 | 7:45 pm

  21. denise says:

    To quote Fil-Am comedian Rex Navarette… “That will do Pig, that will do”

    May 8, 2012 | 8:57 pm

  22. Meg says:

    To err is human, to feast on pig is divine.

    May 8, 2012 | 11:52 pm

  23. cwid says:

    Yessiree, proud to say that we were there for the birth of Zubuchon!

    May 9, 2012 | 4:40 am

  24. Susan says:

    Hubby came home from PI recently and we were talking about lechon. He said his cousin told him about a man from Cebu using organic ingredients and pigs not fed with pig growers who “ships” lechons all over the Philippines. I told him it had to be you : )

    May 9, 2012 | 4:56 am

  25. Betchay says:

    Heavenly pigs! Great Photos! And with mother’s day coming up soon….I sure do agree your mom and lola are both watching over you!

    May 11, 2012 | 10:10 am

  26. Louina says:

    just visited Zubuchon in One Mango Avenue yesterday, two thumbs up to the place and of course the lechon!

    May 14, 2012 | 1:46 pm

  27. ivy says:

    I hope we get a taste of Zubuchon here in Manila also =)

    May 21, 2012 | 6:56 am


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