Lechon Kawali & Bagnet, Part II


Once you have boiled and dried/refrigerated the pork liempo, see Part I here, then the question is, what do you want next, Lechon Kawali or Bagnet? This is how I understand the difference, and please, please, any Ilocanos out there, correct me if I am wrong, as I can definitely be wrong on this… If you want Lechon Kawali, you literally heat up oil in a kawali (or wok, pan, pot) and when the oil is hot, add the pre-boiled pork (remove from the fridge an hour before you are going to cook it to warm it up to room temperature) and hope you don’t get hit by any of the fat splattering like mini-missiles of pain. Cook this at high heat for say 12-15 minutes until the skin is crisp and it is a nice golden honey color. It should be removed from the fat, allowed to rest for a few minutes and chopped up into bite sized pieces. Essentially, once chopped up, you should have crispy bits of skin and caramelized bits of meat/fat/skin AND a more juicy fatty pork in the interior of the hunk of pork. This is served with either some lechon sauce or any combination of sawsawans that your heart desires.


The key here is the beautiful “blistering” of the pork fat that borders on the miraculous as the pale unappetizing chilled lardy mass is transformed into a beautifully burnished, crisp and totally appetizing result just minutes later. While this is almost certainly one of the worst culprits for clogged human arteries, it is almost certainly one of the yummiest ways to achieve them. I like my lechon kawali served with homemade acharra on the side and LOTS and LOTS of rice please…


Now if you want Bagnet instead, you take the same pork and have it warm up on the kitchen counter, then you fry it completely submerged in hot fat but at a low heat, with the fat just barely gurgling around the meat. You fry this mass for a good 45-60 minutes until it is a gorageous deep caramel color (but not burned), and oddly, the splattering has gone down to a minimum. I take this latter characteristic to mean there is little moisture left and essentially what you have is a big fat meaty chicharon of sorts. I did my version in a deep fryer (with the cover) and it was a total breeze; the results in the photos speak for themselves…


BUT, I must relate that these little Bagnets cost me about PHP4,000 to make, almost more than the price of Kobe Beef… why? Becuase the (110V) heat requirements of the deep fryer burned out two adapters and fried an expensive AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulator)!!! Yikes! I thought I was going to burn down the house!!! There is an old Chinese tale that goes something like this: a man left his pig in a house in China and the house caught fire and the next day he returned to shift through the remnants and he found the first roasted pig ever… Can you imagine if the headlines on Cooking Daily screamed “Marketman burns down the house with his Bagnet experiments!!!”???

Hahaha. I can laugh about it now. But I think I need an electrician to change my plug so that I won’t need an adaptor to get it into the wall socket. But back to the bagnet. Once it has deep-fried for an hour or so, take it out and let it cool. This is the form in which most folks most commonly buy the bagnet at Ilocos markets or occasionally, Manila specialty food vendors. I just saw some hours ago at a trade fair and they didn’t look half as good as the ones freshly cooked in these photos here. And they weren’t even crisp anymore as they had been driven down from Ilocos in chilled coolers. In this state, the bagnet will apparently keep roughly 3-4 weeks in your refrigerator, or longer in your freezer.


To serve your bagnet, heat up the oil YET AGAIN, and chop your bagnet into smaller bite-sized pieces and re-fry them for a few minutes to crisp them up. There are those that would argue that the result is utterly sublime… I certainly would if it were freshly made and freshly fried and in the first photo up top. It was excellent. But there are detractors who would argue that it CAN taste a little stale and dry, almost like tasteless fried cardboard or something… and I can also buy that argument if the bagnet is too old and poorly fried, etc. We tasted bagnet all over Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte and the samples ranged from delicious to forgetable, just in case you wondered if there was a lot of variation. In Ilocos, htis is served with a side dish of KBL (Kamatis, Bagoong, Lasona or chopped tomatoes, fish sauce and onions). So what do you guys prefer? The one fry version with a little bit of juiciness in Lechon Kawali, or the double fried and crisper version better known as Bagnet? Oh and one last thing, the pork cooked with spices BEAT OUT the just salted version by a significant margin… Enjoy the photos, and I have checked myself into the Heart Center for artery de-clogging after 3 kilos of homemade lechon kawali and bagnet… I could but I won’t make this for this year’s Christmas giveaways… :)

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

72 Responses

  1. So is there a difference with bagnet and lechon kawali? They seem to be the same to me.. :)

  2. I think I kind of get it now, bagnet is friend twice? Is that it.. Sorry but I haven’t tried bagnet, my lola’s lechon kawali is truly good already, saw when I first saw this, I wasn’t really drawn to it..

    What my lola does by the way, with the left over lechon kawali (the following day) is to refry it again, I guess that is somewhat like bagnet, if I have gotten it right..

  3. Blaise, yes fried twice. But more importantly, the first fry is for nearly 1 hour, which is a LOT longer than most recipes for lechon kawali. So the meat of bagnet is not moist at all… it is almost like meaty chicharon… Oh, and here’s another leftover trick. With leftover lechon, refry it as well and you have a tastier version of bagnet as well…

  4. I prefer the lechon kawali =) bagnet to me can sometimes be too hard to bite into. oh heck! i like deep fried pork whichever way its cooked. my sawsawan of choice is sukang iloko and garlic or kamatis with bagoong! yummy!! and plenty of rice please =)

  5. Like a confit of pork, except it’s parboiled in oil… Minus the near electrical burnout, thank you for taking the time to show us the difference.

    When i was learning chinese, the easiest way to memorize the character for “house” was to remember that it’s made up of a combination of two parts – house and pig. :)

  6. bagnet is very much like cebu’s chicharon carcar. this is a post after my own heart…and arteries… and joint…hmmm…sarap! MM, i think that’s “lasuna” (shallots), not laswa, for the L in KBL.

  7. Thanks for the procedures you posted on how to prepare the lechon kawali. I can’t wait to try it and surprise my hubby, coz I have been baking the pork with skin and it doesn’t turn crispy at all, and was told never to try cooking it again!

  8. I fooled myself into believing I could somehow turn this artery-clogging dish just a little bit healthier by using leftovers as the main feature in pork sinigang, complete with gabi, kangkong, sigarilyas, labanos and siling haba. The previously fried pork attained another dimension of texture and taste which was not exactly lechon kawali and not quite pork sinigang, but nevertheless good…a tasty marriage of 2 of my favorite pork dishes. I first tasted this version at the Masferre cafe in Sagada and I still don’t know if this was the recipe (intentional) or if the cook was Ilocano and didn’t want to waste some leftover lechon kawali (frugal). Either way, it was delicious and assuaged some of the guilt associated with consuming fatty food. So if you find yourself with leftover lechon kawali or bagnet and don’t want to go through the pains of reconstituting, a sinigang re-birth is a noble way to put it out of its misery.

  9. hatari, that sounds delicious. Another variation is a lechon sinigang, made with pieces of lechon, including bits of skin… that may be similar to the sinigang you had… it is rich, luscious, tasty and sour at the same time! :)

  10. oh my gosh.. am already palpitating from all the cholesterol in this post.. hahaha!! but i love pork… sooo much!! oink! teehee!

  11. My favorite sawsawan for this is a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chopped onions, a bit of chopped garlic, lots of pepper and sili. Argh! I wish Mom is here to cook. I don’t have the proper cooking appliances because we live in a condo and the space in the kitchen is way limited….sigh.

  12. i have never tried that lechon sinigang recipe…but I would definitely do sometime soon…thanks…

  13. Oh my God! My heart almost stopped when I came to this page. Now I know what to do with some of my pork belly! Hmmn, I have made pork belly confit before and the process for bagnet does sound similar. I could just taste that crisp out layer and the melting fat…wonderful photos!

  14. Ayayay… That’s not a good read for someone who was just asked by her doctor to go on a no salt, no fat diet due to hypertension! I looove lechon kawali and bagnet. It’s either with vinegar and garlic or Mang Tomas for me. And LOTS of rice too… Nice pics Marketman!

    By the way, didn’t you use a transformer for the deep fryer? Maybe the AVR is not enough to handle the power requirements. I just mentioned your “burn out” episode to my “non-practicing electrical-engineer-husby” and that was his suggestion too…

  15. Try adding bagnet instead of usual chicharon in monggo guisado with some shrimps and lots of ampalaya leaves. Eat with lots of rice…nice comfort food. Also nice topping to pancit palabok. Hahay! I think I need some pork.
    Btw, I remember my Ilocano bro-in-law said, bagnet is air dried then fried few times (and dried during intervals). Its like you cooked lechon kawali..let it dry…re-fry..let it dry..re-fry.Oh well, basta it is good! hehehe

  16. Mrs. Kookie, the AVR also had a step down transformer to 110V. But I think that got fried as well… I have to find a cheaper and safer solution or I will have to relegate the deep fryer back to the pantry… the hiccup has shelved plans for fried chicken, tempura, etc.! Bummer. :( Tulip, I added some to miki a la Batac style and some to pinakbet…yum!

  17. i think your AVR/transformer should have a larger wattage rating than the fryer to prevent it from burning out. Not 100% sure though…

  18. lechon kawali for me, the lesser evil and faster one to cook… we could still lessen its “evilness” and still achieve crispy skin and juicy meat by cooking it in the turbo broiler instead.

  19. hey MM! i prefer lechon kawali too since re-fried pork toughens up.

    would you know if there’s a difference when you put the boiled pork in the freezer or in the refrigerator? my bro’s friend makes bagnet all the time and he freezes it before frying.

  20. Mmmmm, that looks so good! Yes, steamed rice, achara and a sawsawan of suka and sili would be perfect! I make lechon kawali both ways (boil then turbo or boil then deep-fry) depending on how lazy I am for the day. The skin always comes out crispier with the deep-fryer though. I pierce the skin all over with a fork after boiling for maximum “airiness”.

    The deep-fryer does use a lot of electricity. I’ve found out that I can’t plug another appliance in the same wall of our kitchen(even if it’s in another outlet) or it will trip the switch (I’m not adept at these electrical terms, basta here it means I have to go into the garage, find the specific switch for those outlets and turn it back on). I have a deLonghi fryer which I bought several years ago and it still works well. The newer ones are better though because they have temperature controls—better for frying lumpia :)

    Now I’ll have to go to the Asian grocery to buy liempo! (of course the groceries nearby don’t sell that cut, rarely they have pork shoulder with just a wee strip of skin left on!) IF we have leftovers I’ll try and make lechon sinigang, that sounds good!

  21. I love Lechon Kawali.

    My mom’s side of the family makes a kalabasa puree, flavored with vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper for the lechon’s sauce. And we always serve it with green papaya ensalada.

    Ooh. Now I know what’s for dinner tomorrow. :)

  22. Whatever you went through with your deep fryer and electrical outlet – the deep fryer did their job! The heat is contained-sealed in the deep fryer which benefited the pork belly with a crisp skin. You cannot get that kind of result if one is using their regular kawali or caldero even with the lid on because of heat loss – it will get the honey colored skin but not crispiness and puffiness. Yes, lechon kawali or bagnet is at one a day turn around. You are absolutely right this calls for lots and lots of rice and my choice of sawsawan – vinegar, soy sauce, ground pepper, finely minced garlic, chopped red onion and sili. Wow life is too sweet on us! If you get your electrical outlet redone please ensure they will use the appropriate electrical wire for the fryer. I believe the fryer is 1,000 watts wherein most kitchen electrical outlets are built for bread toaster, blender and mixer which are only 250 to 500 watts.

  23. MM, that looks absolutely delicious! i wouldn’t mind receiving a slab of that bagnet instead of the common choco crinkles or fruit cake for christmas. :P hehe.

  24. As they say, “killing me softly.” But what the heck . . . it’s not like you eat it everyday! Just looking at the pix makes me really want some, and I mean right now! :-)

  25. Wow! MM, such mouthwatering photos! you got me starving. =/

    I prefer bagnet but lechon kawali is easier to find in Metro Manila. Ill eat fried-crispy pork with or without sawsawan.

    Chop bagnet or lechon kawali and make sisig – Ah! such bliss! (:

  26. Frying lechon kawali in cooking oil is like being in a war zone. I have to take cover or get hit by those scarring hot oil. My husband resolved that by using the turbo oven. No need for a gallon of cooking oil for frying and the fat drains from the meat as it cook, being elevated from the bottom of the pot. The skin actully comes out crispy and the inside juicy and tastes just like the deep fried ones.

    I never realized that the chicharonnes from the local Mexican Carniceria’s here in CA are the equivalent of the Ilocano bagnet. I think I will get some today and some shrimp tacos. Ooooh cholesterol heaven!

  27. This calls for a side dish of mango salad, lots and lots of rice, a can of ice cold Coke…

    …and a double dose of Lipitor. Nah, make that a triple. Cheers! =P

  28. thanks for this tutorial will try to duplicate that one of this days.. maybe i’ll try the lechon kawali first..

  29. A good and easy way to prevent the splattering and eventual ‘scarring’ of hot oil when frying is to use a frying pan splatter screen. I also use this when making certain pasta sauces, such are tomato and ragu. Here’s a picture link.

  30. I have been following the recipe of Crackling Pork Shank that they serve at Maloney & Porcelli (nextdoor to the Helmsley Palace and Le Cirque) ever since Gourmet magazine published it in their October 1997 issue, page 250. The recipe is optimally codified for the North American kitchen for time, temperature and weight and came out under their feature Forbidden Pleasures, more enticing a heading than what I consider the more accurate Deadly Delights. But no matter, I have usurped it for liempo and use a pressure cooker to drastically shorten the tenderizing slow cook segment. Unlike Market Man, Gourmet magazine did not warn you about the wild fat that fly out in the final frying specially if you were slipshod in the oven drying process.

  31. Apicio, may i know how long does it take you to tenderize the liempo using the pressure cooker, from the moment the steam starts to whistle? Thanks.

  32. it sure looks yummyyyyyyyyy… i like lechon kawali than the bagnet. am gonna have this for Sunday lunch and the leftover will be “pulutan” with ice cold beer.

  33. MM, that’s basically how my mom does her bagnet but she bakes it a bit to dry since we kids won’t wait for another day or so. However when I make own version, I skip the baking and just let it stand in the refrigerator overnight. I ain’t in no hurry either. LOL.

    I like atchara with lechon kawali, or vinegar with garlic, onions and siling labuyo. Sometimes mom would make her own lechon sauce. I’m also used to having bagnet with kamatis and bagoong. If it’s mango season, mom would place finely diced green mangoes in it, if not she just squirt a lemon in it, some red onions as well, finely chopped ginger and a dash of ground pepper.

    Gosh, I think I know what I will be making this weekend!

  34. I know this might be too much, but, our household buys liempo/belly everyweek. I make sinigang na baboy and roast (oven)pork belly everyweek. Although, i just slice the pork lenghtwise about 1 inch or so thick, just put salt, fresh cracked black pepper, chili flakes, u can add dried oregano (from pinoycook.ca), and i add some freshly grated nutmeg and just put them in the oven. We do this over the flame too, which is good as well! I just hate slicing pork belly or maybe i just need to buy a new knife! hehehe.
    But with your recipe, boiling it first, then slicing/cutting later, is definitely a breeze for me! It’s crunchy on the outside and soft inside. I guess, this is how im making the liempo this coming week then! Thanks MM.

  35. If its fried bagnet- I like mashing tomatoes (to temper the saltiness with the tomato juice) in fish bagoong with calamansi and grated luya. This sawsawan I got from my dad who’s a GI (Genuine Ilocano), unfortunately we rarely cook our bagnet this way. We always saved bagnet for Pakbet which we had at least twice a week sometimes more, as supply of bagnet depended on relatives who stayed in our house in Manila from Ilocos Norte. Until now if luck is on my side I even bring some of that stash from Manila to Taipei and cook Pakbet here. But I have not been lucky for several years now… and I’m craving for it…
    PS… just got back from Manila and I brought the Yummy Magazine. Its a good read and I have a long list of borrowers already…

  36. hahhah!!! i so love this dish and so does a lot of folks, so many comments already. filipinos just love their pork especially with lots of fat, no doubt about that!

    hope you get to fix the electrical problem as soon possible with the help of proper electricians.

  37. Sarap naman ng post na ito. Lucky me, I have 3 kilos of bagnet from Vigan ready for heating/eating courtesy of my friend who’s in Manila for the bar exams. I am going to have pinakbet with bagnet as “sahog”, and the rest to be re-fried and make bagnet salad ala Via Mare, KBL concoctions din. If ever there will be leftovers, will make into binagoongan for the days ahead. Happy eating everyone!

  38. This looks absolutely gorgeous!!! I would be hard pressed to choose which preparation I like better…when it comes to pork I just have to love and enjoy everything in all it’s forms, totally and no holding back!

    The way you cook the bagnet reminds me of how they cook Belgian frites…slow fry in low temp oil, then quick fry in high temp oil. Another sublime food :)

    Btw, where do you buy your pork? Do you know anyone who sells free range pork?

  39. I was looking for a lechon kawali recipe and when I checked out your blog, I see, Bagnet! Thank you MM for the recipe, this is nirvana! This reminds me of how I fell in love with bagnet when I visited Vigan when my arteries were still young and fearless! The ones we had were huge pieces that stayed crisp for several hours, unlike the lechon kawali. And yes, it is almost like the mexican chicharones but Bagnet is so much better. Yum! I just ordered my turbo oven so I can try your recipe and i saw someone shopping for an oven in the US, check walmart.com or target.com. Thank U!

  40. Mag lagay ka nalang ng SUKA na maraming BAWANG sa lamesa at bukasan mo ang post ni MM na ito ayos na!!!!the best ka talaga MM…di nga lang kita nakita sa OTOP sayang!next time nalang.

  41. love lechon kawali too MM, i do like bagnet too but yes quality is inconsistent when bought here Manila…its best to get from Ilocos talaga. i eat them too with lots of rice, toyo with lots of sili and calamansi. I buy also lechon kawali from a neighborhood eatery, the lechon kawali is quite good but their choice of sawsawan is really pathetic….parang diluted catsup pretending to be hot, sweet and sour at the same time, so i just ignore the complimentary sawsawan and make my own. now after reading your post MM, i am inspired to cook my own this coming weekend : )

  42. Particularly to Ted: If you are tenderizing the liempo as a one piece slab, around 20 minutes on minimum fire (slow simmer). I do it in one piece because it is easier to slice then once it has cooled down. If alredy sliced (say 1/2 inch) 15 minutes. Check for tenderness once it is safe to do so because the age of the pig comes into play too.

  43. Me too Lee, hehehe theyre all drooling. And that, lechon kawali is sooooo perfect with vinegar with lotsa garlic and siling labuyo! Magkakamay ako!

  44. wow! yummmm. i miss this kolesterol killer..
    i prefer bagnet to lechon kawali. with kamatis sibuyas bagoong salad on the side..

  45. Lechon kawali, bagnet atbp. I love them all. My favorite dipping sauce is soy sauce + vinegar + diced red onions + chopped siling labuyo. Eat this with mountains of rice.

  46. Marketman,

    simply lovely!! a man after my own!!! lol love your bagnet pics. i’m ilocano and i love both lechon kawali and bagnet here in Hawaii. both has its own sauces. sometime mang tomas lechon sauce and other times kamatis, sili, lasuna(sibuyas), and a good strong bagoong. whatever the mood. i favor fine chinese shrimp paste called harm ha with the latter. oh yes and u need lots of hot steaming inapoy (nasi or rice)! this is killer for the arteries but u jus gotta live dangerously and enjoy!! the japanese have their fugu (poisonous puffer fish) and we filipinos have our good ol whole lechon, lechon kawali, bagnet and sitsaron (chicharon)!! where else in the world can you find a pretty lil filipino munching on a piece of crispy fatty pork and oozing out of the sides of her mouth??!! dang… keep up the good work!! food porn!! LOL

  47. My mom went to la union last week and brought home some bagnet from vigan. It was really good. Kaso bitin so I tried to do it by myself. And sabi sa kanya pagkakulo daw i freezer so that’s what I did. I bought a slab of liempo, boil it with garlic, onions, lots of pepper corn, salt and star anise. then I put it to the freezer overnight. The next day I deep fried it throwing some ice after 7 minutes and the taste was promising though. :)

  48. Wow, this is one of my favorites… I am now making a proposal on bagnet production and stand at San Felipe, Zambales. I feel the need for San Felipe to have a better place to buy bagnet instead of it buying from the fresh market. Aside from Ilocos, San Felipe, Zambales sells the best tasting bagnet too! try it in one of your trips here while enjoying our beaches.

  49. The difference of Bagnet with Lechon Kawali…. is simply where you eat it and who cooked it! when you consume it in Ilocos please give respect to Ilocano who cooked it call it Bagnet but if you are just plain street of Manila call it Lechon Kawali for me anytime,anywhere, anyhow they cook it or who cooked it is my ultimate comfort food. “love it”

  50. i really enjoyed reading ur blog now im excited to cook bagnet for my mom birthday!!!!!!!!thank u God bless

  51. An Ilocana friend taught me how to reheat bagnet to make it crispy. At ref temp,put bagnet in pan with oil (do not heat pan first!!) and allow the pan to heat up with the bagnet. Then,you get crispy bagnet. She gifted us with bagnet slabs—and it worked like a breeze! Crispy yummy bagnet–serve with chopped tomatoes,lason and ilocano bagoong!!! Yummmy!

  52. market manila, your site is very helpful to me. its like wikipedia with a charming twist. you educate me to the core.

  53. The first time i tasted bagnet i fell in love with it. I shipped them out to Cebu and mind us, it was still crunchy 3 days after without hints of getting fouled out. Wooaaa, takam-takam Viva mga Kabalens!

  54. I always wondered what bagnet is when I first heard it, I always thought it was the same as lechon kawali.
    wow, I can imagine starting a business with the name “BAGNET” and serve cholesterol pills on the side,hahaahah.
    Bagnet in Chicago!Your picture of making me hungry and it is almost midnight here.lol
    Thank you MM, your site is wonderfully different and interesting!

  55. …tip para makatipid sa electricity or lpg, try to use uling sa pag-deep fry or even when using pressure cooker…that is if you don’t live in a condo…

  56. Hi there,
    I’m Ilocana and I miss filipino food. I was craving for lechon kawali today so I went to walmart and bought a pork shoulder since they dont have pork belly available. I did’nt cook my lechon kawali yet so I tried going online and looking for a recipe. I love the direction i found on your site.I’ll share it with my fellow soldiers. mabuhay!


Comments are closed.



Subscribe To Updates

No spam, only notifications about new blog posts.