Ever since the No Reservations Philippines episode of Anthony Bourdain, I have received dozens and dozens of requests to purchase the same kind of lechon served in that show. The subsequent feature on Jessica Soho’s program only increased the inquiries for the accupunctured pig. I have steadfastly responded that it is not for sale. Well, now it is. At least on an experimental basis. My office crew in Cebu have been on my case to allow them to try their hand at an entrepreneurial effort, so the result is ZUBUCHON. Zubu was the designation for the island of Cebu in a few of the really old Spanish and Portuguese maps of the Philippine archipelago, so ZUBUCHON is the crew’s brand name for our unique style of lechon.
Now first let me say what ZUBUCHON is not. We do not use MSG. We do not use mixes of any sort such as sinigang mix, ginisa mix, etc. We do not use paintbrushes to paint the skin with soy sauce, and we do not use blowtorches to even out the caramelization of lechon skin. We do not use very large pigs for sale by the kilo (these pigs at 45+ kilos live weight tend to have more fat content). We do not extract any of the prime meat inside the pig before cooking (some folks remove the tenderloins). We do not have a smooth shell-lacqued skin.
ZUBUCHON is about doing things the old fashioned way. We carefully select our pigs from folks who generally raise them in their back yards, not from large commercial piggeries. As such, we feel we pay a fair price with little intermediation to the individuals who actually raise the pigs, even if we must drive an hour away to obtain them. We often “fatten up” our pigs for several days or weeks before they are slaughtered. We use only the freshest and often home grown organic lemongrass, green onions, siling labuyo or peppers, local sea salt, and other herbs and spices. We use good olive oil. And we prepare, accupuncture and cook the pig by hand, with no mechanized systems at all. We cook the pigs on natural bamboo poles over charcoal purchased from small scale manufacturers in the highland towns of the province. And yes, our lechon probably costs more than any other lechon for sale in the city of Cebu. But it doesn’t get more artisanal than this. And I hope you will find that it’s worth the small price premium. :)
So if you live in Cebu, and have been pining to try this pig, now is your chance. The crew is going to try their hand at running this lechon business from now until the Christmas holidays, to see how it fares. Any profits at this point will be split amongst all of the crew that participate in the effort. No profit will accrue to Marketman. And remember, this might not be what you normally expect in a lechon. What you will get is something with a slightly uneven colored and blistered skin, that looks less traditionally “attractive” but which is hopefully quite crisp, and whose meat is naturally perfumed with fresh herbs and spices.
There are two ways to try ZUBUCHON… If you just want to try a kilo or two, then go to:
BANILAD TOWN CENTER
Sunday Market in the Lobby
Zubuchon at PHP385/kilo (practically at cost, this would cost PHP600+ a kilo in Manila!)
If you want to order a whole lechon, please call at least 3 days in advance:
032-236-5264 (M-F 9am-4pm)
Look for Edrid or Beverly
Free Delivery within 15 minutes drive of the Capitol building.
Price is based on the size of pig, not the supposed number of people it might feed. And if you compare prices with others, ask them for the approximate LIVE and COOKED weight of their lechons.
Lechons from PHP4,000-PHP6,000
The crew can only do a maximum of 2-3 pigs per day at this point, so please call early to reserve your lechon (particularly for weekend orders). They will gracefully decline your orders if they can’t do them justice. Many thanks in advance to readers who decide to give the crew’s new lechon venture a chance… :)