Lechon Kawali — More Experiments…

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Nine years ago I wrote about lechon kawali and bagnet in these two posts PART I and PART II, after a trip to Ilocos Norte and sampling numerous versions of bagnet. I also did a post on lechon kawali with a tomato and kamias relish in 2014, here. But we never tire of pork, so here’s another attempt at making lechon kawali…

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First, take a nicely brined whole pork belly (we have these for other dishes we make) and cut it into smaller portions and stick it in a pressure cooker set to 10lbs of pressure for roughly 30 minutes. Let this cool and let it dry out in the refrigerator overnight. We were in a hurry, and skipped this step, do not make that same mistake. I had to catch a flight back to Manila, hence the shortcut.

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Take the belly out of the fridge, sprinkle it with some good patis or fish sauce and some kikkoman soy sauce and gently place it in a huge vat or pan of hot, hot lard. Let this fry until the piece stops bubbling so much (less moisture) and the skin is nice and crisp.

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Chop this up and enjoy with a sawsawan or dip of your choice. The meat was incredibly moist (almost too moist for me frankly), the meat so tender and the skin was just a bit less crispy than we would have wanted. The next time, I will definitely dry the piece out in the fridge for a day or two, and cut it thinner before frying it. I like a nice crisp exterior and tender juicy interior, not a totally fried to the core lechon kawali…

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11 Responses

  1. I like how you post this stuff right at noon time EST! This dish is one of the life’s sinful pleasures. A big plateful of this, rice and liver sauce please!

  2. Hey MM, for a “healthier” (is there such a thing?!?!???) lechon kawali, cook it in the turbo oven or even just the oven. My aunt does her lechon kawali this way, no fail! And yes, do not skip the drying period. Minimum of 24 hrs.

    And if you have leftovers (is there such a thing?!?!?!????), use it for paksiw or better yet, pinakbet!

  3. heidi, put it on a cookie rack over a cookie sheet and just let the air circulate around the cooked pork. If you don’t have that much space, just put in in a bowl and cover in cling wrap and set in the fridge overnight.

  4. i’m with Dragon on the turbo oven – quicker, and the oil drains out. to keep it moist, i brine the meat for about an hour before putting it in the oven. i’ve even baked it without parboiling, and the results are very close – same crisp skin and juicy meat. but that’s just me when i’m being lazy. (a friend swears that he just salts and peppers thick frozen slices of pork belly and turboes away for an hour or so, and the results are the same.)

  5. Dragon and Millet, at what temperature do you set your turbo broiler when making lechon kawali? Maybe you can share your recipes here? Thanks.

  6. EJ, try 200 C (very hot!). Ensure that the oven (turbo or not) is very hot before putting in the meat, skin side up. If your meat has a good fat/meat ratio, the melting fat will contribute to the moisture and flavor of the meat as it cooks.

    Millet, Auntie does not even brine. I would think that hers is a combination of the following:
    1) Skin/fat/meat ratio is good, i.e., thick skin and fat
    2) boil in salted/seasoned water until tender (but not falling apart)
    3) dry out in fridge for a minimum of 12 hrs, better at 24 (she doesn’t even cover – an Ilocana will not spend extra for foil, cling wrap, etc. hahaha)
    4) very hot oven, skin side up.
    Cooking time dependent on how big it is…

  7. Lechon kawali is love, love, love! My mom used to have it in pugon when we still had the bakery then in convection oven when the business wrapped up. We get rid of the drippings though an old lady gets them for her pansit.

  8. Btw, she doesn’t brine the meat and only rubs rock salt on the skin and between slits down the meat. The skin is crackly good and not even Mang Tomas has to complement the taste. Sarrrrrap!

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