06 Jan2011


It’s been on the back burner for a few years. I always wanted to cook a good chicharon, WITHOUT any added MSG. So I have taken the first step. Identified the wholesaler of bulk pig skin/fat (YES, it is IMPORTED from the U.S.) and today we purchased a box with 28+ kilos worth of fat for our first experiments… Madly searching high and low in Cebu for three gallons of pork lard (for some reason, there isn’t any readily available just now so we will probably have to make our own!) and tomorrow a local expert has been hired to demonstrate the process of making chicharon…


If we manage to create a good chicharon, we will probably eventually sell it. Right now, the hypothesis is that maybe a chili chicharon might be good, or maybe a lemongrass chicharon or even a vinegar chicharon… At any rate, we will enjoy the process, I am sure… Imagine how much chicharon we will have to taste test over the next few months… hahaha.


The photo above, taken at one of the many purveyors in Cebu of chicharon that is cooked minutes before you buy it. Who knows, eventually a Zubuchon Chicharon maybe?! :)

Curious how the locals do it? Check out this previous post, here. Or check out these other posts, here and here.



  1. Luanne Shackelford says:

    I make my own manteca, pork lard, from empiliya, and have always wondered why commercial chicaron is fried in vegetable oil! Vegetable oil quickly oxidizes and become laden with bad for you trans-fats– pork fat does not do this. Here’s to crunchy goodness!

    Jan 6, 2011 | 4:50 pm


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  3. bearhug0127 says:

    I volunteer as one of your tasters!Please!?Hehehehe ….

    Jan 6, 2011 | 4:54 pm

  4. Karina says:

    Zubuchon expanding! Looking forward to reading about this new experiment in future entries. I read the earlier post on how locals make chicharon and it was really fascinating. Now I always visualize your pictures when I eat it, esp. the one of the huge pan simmering with chicharon. Ok I’m getting hungry now…

    Jan 6, 2011 | 4:56 pm

  5. Mimi says:

    Good luck, MM! I had an uncle who had a chicharon biz decades ago. I remember seeing layers upon layers of what seemed to me like petrified brown skin drying under the sun on chicken wire trays. They did not smell nice. He would fry them twice, afterwhich he’d sprinkle salt n spices. I don’t know how he prepared the skin though. That’s all I remember.

    The best chicharon I tasted was in Bohol. A nice thin layer of laman on skin that was perfectly seasoned making you eat more. Tricycle we were on stopped at little store on a main road, don’t remember the name though. But I’ve always regretted not buying more to bring back. Naubos kaagad sa waiting lounge ng airport.

    Jan 6, 2011 | 8:02 pm

  6. EbbaBlue says:

    We use to not see pork skin here in Houston, but with the influx of Vietnamese in the community, oriental meat mrket sprung up, and it is often ordinary to be able to purchase these skins with or without little fat on it; and also pork meat itself, you have option to buy the ones with or without skin on. Dati rati nahihingi ko lang sa mga butcher itong balat for chicharon, but I think they realized that they can make money on it dahil Pinoy resto starting asking for all their stocks and most of the time wala na akong mabili so I just buy my whole pork with skin on, just to make the chicharon. I dry mine in the dehydrator dahil we got so many black birds in our yard. I did not know I have to render the fat, akala ko pag-tuyo na sabay prito on its own fat. So far wala pa akong success sa pag-luluto nito, but now I will do it.

    Jan 6, 2011 | 8:39 pm

  7. Betchay says:

    Uh-oh…..there goes my new year’s resolution!

    Jan 6, 2011 | 8:42 pm

  8. tonceq says:

    better have a good stock of calorie pills for this one MM! God bless on that endeavor and may Zubuchon prosper! praise the lard! :)

    Jan 6, 2011 | 10:05 pm

  9. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    Ok MM. You take care of the chicharon and I will take care of the beer!!! ;->

    Jan 6, 2011 | 10:10 pm

  10. Ronald says:

    And now I’m going to wait for the “Best Chicharon Ever!” to be made. :)

    Jan 6, 2011 | 10:16 pm

  11. KUMAGCOW says:

    Bulacan Chicharon is up for a battle… you should taste the one they usually call CHIPPY there… it’s pure fat… melts in your mouth kinda chicharon… really sinful!

    Jan 6, 2011 | 10:45 pm

  12. joey says:

    Do you have openings for taste tester??? Where do I apply???!!! I’ll work for free since I’ll already be getting paid with what I test! ;)

    Jan 6, 2011 | 11:02 pm

  13. natie says:

    Uh oh–a bottle of Alli is ready—YUM!!!

    Jan 6, 2011 | 11:47 pm

  14. Jun B says:

    Hey MM – something slightly related, but off-topic – a NYT piece on Adobo posted today:


    Jan 7, 2011 | 1:37 am

  15. roland says:

    MM – the cable show Dirty Jobs (w/ Mike Rowe) had an episode on Cooking Cracklin’s – do a quick search on it it is very interesting – reminded me of my Lola’s tinapa business

    Jan 7, 2011 | 2:11 am

  16. betty q. says:

    EbbaBlue: hey, let’s make chicharon together and get a head start! Hubby just left for a little R and R with a group of friends and won’t be back till Tuesday. I can make /cook all the stinky stuff I have been dying to make/cook! Go to Chinatown and get some pork skin with a little bit of fat. I use the one for pork chops with a little bit of fat and meat. This is a 2 to 3 day process. Now that it is winter weather here, I have to use the oven. Cut the skin into 2 to 2 1/4 finger width and about 3 inches long. Arrange them on cookie sheet. Season woith salt and pepper on all sides. Dry in the oven 150 to 200 degrees …LOW HEAT! Ages ago, we had a pizza oven at the bakery and I would do this to avail of the pilot light.I do this overnight and sometimes the whole day next day (when the bakery was closed!) until it is really dry. and color….beige. Then get your biggest caserola and dump everything in there . Now, render the fat on medium to low heat. It will take forever depending on how much you have. From beige color, it will start getting brownish like really tanned skin. Now in another caserola or deep fryer, remove some of the rendered fat. You should have about 4 to 5 inches of fat in the deep fryer and heat to medium high. Then fry a few at the beginning to adjust the heat if need be. It will puff just like in MM’s picture. The rest of the rendered skin, let it cool in single layer and then freeze for future use. When you have a craving for it, just thaw out teh amount you want. Make sure it is at room temperature before you fry them. OH< DO NOT FORGET TO OPEN YOUR WINDOWS when you are frying them for you do not want to activate the SMOKE ALARM!…lesson learned! Also, make sure you have scented candles lighted in the kitchen after frying them!

    Jan 7, 2011 | 2:20 am

  17. eD says:

    Saw this photo blog sometime ago on Bulacan’s chicharon’s makers. Apparently they source their pork fat from Belgium, claiming that it’s the best and their first choice. The photos show some of their processes too.

    When I do have the cravings, I usually buy the ones that are garlic flavored … I pop them cracklings into my mouth one after the other :).

    Jan 7, 2011 | 3:52 am

  18. P says:

    My favorite chicharon is not the puffy kind.
    I like the ones with fat still attached, the skin a big crumpled and NOT PUFFY at all.

    Jan 7, 2011 | 4:06 am

  19. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    It boggles my mind that chicharon purveyors are dependent upon US imports of pig skin to produce a local delicacy. I would figure the local porcine supply to be superior to the factory farmed variety (though I know there are organic and free range supliers who may demand a higher cost). That said, if your product was exported to the US, that the chicharon could be making milage on the frequent flyer points.

    My vote is for chili-vinegar.

    Jan 7, 2011 | 5:44 am

  20. ntgerald says:


    Jan 7, 2011 | 6:06 am

  21. ros says:

    1 (800) 655- PORK , lol at this 1-800 number. :))

    I think you should look-up/reserve for a list of available numbers with the xxx-ZUBU format.

    : P

    Jan 7, 2011 | 6:28 am

  22. josephine says:

    I agree with Getter Dragon 1 – why buy skin and fat from US? The Philippines has great pigs, and if there aren’t enough, surely this is a great livelihood project for our people. Yes, think of the carbon profile, and also, these are surely by-products of US industrial farming (who knows what those pigs ate?) Surely MM, you can find a local source of pig skins. Making lard is simple – I’m sure you know – I’ve never made it in a commercial quantity but basically you take good pork back fat and add the same volume of cold water. Simmer very gently and when the water has evaporated – Lard! For extra flavoring, use a dry marinade overnight (in the fridge in the Phils – ok by the windowside here in winter) rough salt, pepper, herbs and spices of your choice, and/or crushed garlic. Strain out solids when fat is rendered, use lard as wished, spread solids if greedy on bread or eat with rice – depending on your cholesterol count!

    Jan 7, 2011 | 6:54 am

  23. Marketman says:

    Josephine and Getter Dragon, from what I understand, commercially slaughtered pigs yield NARY enough fat/skin for the insatiable local demand of chicharon in this country. It is a simple matter of supply and demand. We EAT a lot of the fat and skin. We eat millions of lechons with the fat and skin, porkchops with fat and skin, so there simply isn’t ENOUGH “by-product” to go around. I agree it would be best if it were all local, and I have expressed surprise at the source in a previous post on chicharon, but the fact remains that other countries have an excess of perfectly good fat and skin, the U.S. being the largest source, I gather, so why not send their “dregs” or “garbage” cuts to us where we treat them like diamonds? :) Folks need to be more aware and open minded about their food. I bet most of you didn’t know that the vast majority of fish for tinapa in this country is now imported frozen from Taiwan and other countries. See tinapa making post I did years ago. Or that nearly 95+% of the billions of instant noodles the Philippine population consumes each year is made of imported wheat and seasonings and fat… At least the argument, in that case is that we can’t or don’t grow wheat much. As for price, we aren’t even as efficient as other nations at raising hogs (yes, American pork is actually often cheaper), nor rice (other Asian countries have cheaper rice) or other staples for that matter… It may be a sad reality, but it is reality.

    And it may surprise readers that much of what you eat in restaurants is also imported. Among them are lechon de leches, served in many Chinese restaurants, often brought in frozen from places like Vietnam and elsewhere. Why is this the case? Because most consumers ultimately don’t care. They aren’t willing to pay the difference for provenance, quality, local sourcing, etc. In the end, it is our own fault, because we choose to be ignorant and cheap about our food… Can you tell this is a topic that bugs me? :)

    As for lard, I have made it myself. I did a post on it a few years ago.

    One last bizarre example. Why do locals eschew perfectly good and highly flavored Ilocos and Northern garlic for the relatively tasteless, large, imported garlic from China that now floods most Asian markets? Price. When 85+% of the population is subsisting on less than $1 day on average for food per person, price is a driving factor. And I will also add that for even the richest 5% of the population, the vast majority are NOT willing to pay for quality or provenance… :(

    Jan 7, 2011 | 7:23 am

  24. Betchay says:

    MM it is really a sad reality.Our country is so rich in natural resources and yet we don’t fully develop that aspect.Years ago, our Southeast asian neighbors like Vietnam and Thailand came here(specifically IRRI in Los Baños) to learn more about rice production and now it is us importing rice from them! Is it our government at fault? Corruption?the fertilizer scam? We should support our farmers. Or maybe it is the Filipino mentality? Everything imported is good?!? Or it’s just a sign of the modern times? Nobody wants to get their hands dirty anymore.Everyone wants to be in the city or out of the country! :(

    Jan 7, 2011 | 8:28 am

  25. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Thanks Betchay. That was going to be my next comment in regards to IRRI (International Rice Research Institute). A colleague and I were lamenting about the Philippines and how she compares with her Asian neighbors. He brought up IRRI as an example. That even with the existance of such an institution devoted to rice production, that most of the rice produced in the Philippines is exported to Vietnam and other countries. Mind boggling.

    “In the end, it is our own fault, because we choose to be ignorant and cheap about our food… Can you tell this is a topic that bugs me? :)”

    I agree with you Marketman and I too find this to be an irritant. It is evident in our food culture that we have developed at taste for ‘cheap food’. When the Seafood City chain opened here in Silicon Valley, I was immediately amazed at the amount of instant noodles, canned fruit cocktail and luncheon meat that was offered. The produce area which I would have expected to be rather bright and abundant was pitiful in comparison to the amount and variety of canned and instant product. However, according to our history, that it is easy to understand on how we Filipinos come to enjoy such foods and therefore provide a market for it.

    Speaking of garlic. Yes, agreement there. The Illocano garlic is very pungent and have grown some here. Despite living near Gilroy (aka Garlic Capital), those large cloves don’t have the flavor profile of our native species. Hmmm, Pinoy Garlic Flavor Chicharon? Just a suggestion.

    Jan 7, 2011 | 9:05 am

  26. pia l. says:

    I don’t remember where I read this before, but one of the reasons that Vietnam and Thailand have overtaken us in rice production is because we don’t have the land for it. We are an archipelago; we don’t have a lot of plains to plant rice on as compared to these countries. So even though our rice varieties and irrigation systems have improved, we still don’t produce enough to feed the country.

    And I don’t remember where I read this either, but the efficiency of the US in food production comes at a great price of energy consumption as well as carbon dioxide production.

    Anyway, happy chicharon experimenting MM :)

    Jan 7, 2011 | 9:32 am

  27. junb says:

    Is it year of the PIG :) !!!! Good luck MM on your new quest. Do not worry about carbon foot print of that skin. Let’s just thank the countries who feed millions of our people on an affordable $1 per day meal which our country with what we call abundant natural resources failed to do so.

    To Josephine, and Getter Dragon, I know your intention is good to educate people. We can blame our government, officials, our system and even the filipino mentality etc..but let’s face it, it’s not the root cause of the problem that our country is facing. There are far more serious problem that we should be concerned.

    Jan 7, 2011 | 9:40 am

  28. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    @ junb, for 2011, it will be year of the hare. I’m not sure there will be a market for crispy rabbit skin. O_O Just kidding.

    But I do appreciate what you are trying to say.

    For the record, I was not ‘educating people’, but rather sharing my opinion and a story to corroborate the detail. I was originally going to ask of what is the ‘root cause’, but, out of respect for this blog, I think we might be getting off base and losing the spirit of the original post…chicharon.

    Crunch Crunch

    Yum Yum

    Jan 7, 2011 | 9:54 am

  29. Bubut says:

    i saw in the tv where Cebu’s best chicharon is in Carcar City and they also buy imported pork skin from US and Europe.. looking forward for Zubuchon’s chicharon.

    Jan 7, 2011 | 10:37 am

  30. ntgerald says:

    pia, the comment about us being inefficient and corrupt hence we cannot produce enough rice for our own people comes up quite often.
    This link has provided me with answers: http://books.irri.org/9712202097_content.pdf

    Jan 7, 2011 | 11:01 am

  31. ntgerald says:

    I buy the imported garlic because it is a lot easier to process. One large clove is enough for one’s needs. While Ilocos garlic is more flavorful and pungent, the cloves are a lot smaller, probably due to some dehydration. When you dehydrate almost anything, the flavors become more concentrated.

    Jan 7, 2011 | 11:10 am

  32. becky says:

    Even Lapid’s chicharon source their pig skin from outside the phils.

    Jan 7, 2011 | 11:11 am

  33. Jose says:

    So will there be any home made bacon posts in the future too?

    Jan 7, 2011 | 11:39 am

  34. ntgerald says:

    Jose, there was a homemade bacon post:http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/homemade-bacon

    Jan 7, 2011 | 11:44 am

  35. passive observer says:

    MM, there is this very good and “healthy” chicharon that i got the chance to taste. it was from Cavite. (Tanza, i think) the chicharon is not oily and fatty at all and even if left in the vinegar, it doesn’t dissentigrate/dissolve/melt. the worse part is, i forgot to take the label! but i noticed that the manufacturer was in partner with DOST.

    Jan 7, 2011 | 12:10 pm

  36. Anne :-) says:

    MM, if you want someone who would help you to “taste-test” those new flavors for the chicharon….you can count on me… :-)

    Jan 7, 2011 | 1:19 pm

  37. Kasseopeia says:

    @ntgerald: Ilocos garlic is “concentrated” simply because that’s the way it is; it’s not due to dehydration. They are really small and really garlick-y, as it is the profile of that specific garlic variety – probably the same way that small ampalaya (also favored in the North) are more astringent than their larger cousins, which have almost no bitterness in them. In Thailand, these huge ampalayas are stuffed with ground pork and made to swim in broth.

    I find that using two to three cloves of Ilocos garlic yields the same punch as using three to five cloves of Taiwan garlic. Those big ones have almost no bite in them, in my experience.

    Jan 7, 2011 | 1:22 pm

  38. tipat says:

    Caption pa lang, naglalaway na ako! Looking forward to hearing about your chicharony adventures :-)

    Jan 7, 2011 | 4:22 pm

  39. Mom-Friday says:

    Will watch out for Zubuchon Chicharon!!! :)

    Jan 7, 2011 | 4:26 pm

  40. EbbaBlue says:

    BettyQ, yeah, let’s go do it… hahhaa…long distance. In food channel this morning (IronChef of America Challenge), they had boiled-pressure cooker the pig’s feet (they called it something different), and then peeled off the skin, and made cracklins. The devoured them. Thank you for your tip, I will do it this weekend. It has been very nice 50-60 deg. here and I have a nice little backyard/patio, with electric-grill/stove and electric hook-up which I can put my deep fryer. The whole process of frying here and the drying in the oven. In the future, for drying, I think I can make a homemade netting cover to prevent the birds from eating my skins. I’ll take picture of the whole experiment and will tell you more about it.

    MM, yeah – in the case of native garlic, everytime I visit Pinas, I purchase a 1 or 2 tied-bulk of these garlics (from Mindoro) and bring it here in Houston. My hubby frowned on using them, kasi ang liit-liit and mahirap daw balatan; thinking he is doing me a favor, he buys purchased the elephant garlic kind. I still insist of using my native garlic, ayyy..napakamot sa ulo; umpp ewan ko sa kanya… di niya malasahan ang kaibahan ng distinct taste.

    Jan 8, 2011 | 1:51 am

  41. betty q. says:

    Ebba…go to a garden store and buy those netting for peas…get the smallest squares to cover your pork skin…next get some used pie plates or those foil burner plates of different sizes. attach them to a bamboo pole and stick it in the middle of a bucket to hold the bamboo pole and fill the bucket with gravel or soil….this is a homemade scarecrow thingey to keep the blackbirds away…best when there is wind. It works. Another thing….if oyu have a broken garden hose …cut lenghts and put them on the ground and simulate a snake> the birds think it is a snake and will go somewhere else!

    Jan 8, 2011 | 2:41 am

  42. EbbaBlue says:

    BettyQ, thanks a bunch; will do. I have here a new nylon kulambo that has not been used (actually I bought it from Pinas just because…I fell nostalgic). I will sew it parang small kulambo for the drying of the skins. Ito kasing si Mr. MM ang sarap talaga mang-inggit. Actually kahit pagdating ko dyan sa Pinas I will do the same thing, everytime I visit kasi I got 2 pigs slaughtered for my food stay. And ikatlo pang-lechon. Siyanga pala, Oriental groceries sells Crab chips now too. Medio mahal, pero its a good quality. Thanks everybody.

    Jan 8, 2011 | 10:14 am

  43. Divine G. says:

    MM…if you have heard of Camiling, Tarlac their most popular product is chicharon called “seseron”…Manila to Camiling used to be 4 hrs. drive but I think now the trip is shorter. Go to the public market and you will see that there are lots of “seseron” sellers .The market is just across the church. This is what we used when we cooked pinakbet and balatong (guinisang munggo).

    Jan 8, 2011 | 10:57 am

  44. anne says:

    woww….your very own Zubucharon!! can’t wait till i get back to the Philippines… hope ill get back just in time for these to be available in the market already!

    Jan 8, 2011 | 5:18 pm

  45. quiapo says:

    Does anyone miss the chicharon bulaklak made in Azcarraga?

    Jan 9, 2011 | 3:37 am

  46. farah says:

    mm, please tell me where to buy imported pig skin. i am dying to cook my own chicharon minus the dreaded MSG. thank you

    Jan 9, 2011 | 8:53 am

  47. Mike says:

    Pigskin imported from the States? All the while I thought you were a locavore.

    Jan 11, 2011 | 6:57 am

  48. Joe Bariring says:

    I called up Yosemite Meat Co., Inc. in Modesto, California and was amazed how competitive their prices were. I asked for over a half dozen different cuts of pork and beef and for some offals. Awesome prices! The only caveats are; a minimum order of 600 lbs, and they don’t ship outside California and Seattle.

    Jan 12, 2011 | 1:19 am

  49. Marketman says:

    Mike, hahaha, yes, they are imported skins. While I try to buy local as much as possible, I do consume a lot of stuff from elswewhere… including beef, lamb, duck, fruit, olive oil, nuts, condiments, etc… farah, I buy from large wholesalers, I think the one in Cebu is called Alpa or Alpha trading. But you have to buy in bulk, like 30 kilos per box at a time…

    Jan 13, 2011 | 1:53 pm

  50. Rico Santos says:

    Good day… please try to use the Raw Material Monterey Pork Skin, we can deliver… We currently supply the skin in Sta. Maria, Bulacan… hurry up… For inquiry, you may call me at 09228612357 Sun-Philippines

    Sep 18, 2011 | 8:27 am


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