Paksiw na Lechon / Roast Pig Stew

The term paksiw is a bit schizophrenic… when used with fish or denizens of the sea, pak1it means to cook with vinegar and some spices and vegetables and the resulting brothy concoction is superb with tons of rice. Everyone has their favorite type of fish, whether bilong-bilong, those flat silvery fish, bangus (milkfish) or even apahap (sea bass). It is a very healthy dish as it is high in protein and good oils and generally low in fat. When applied to meats, however, paksiw not only means cooking with vinegar but often with sugar, soy sauce and in the case of paksiw na lechon, liver sauce. The resulting stews are often dark, substantial, artery clogging and absolutely delicious, also great with lots of rice! Take out your tooth floss as we explore paksiw na lechon a la Marketman…

As a kid, I recall many occasions when there was a lechon in the house. pak2First was a birthday of a sibling or my parents. My grandmother used to arrange for a nice Cebu lechon to be cooked in the early morning, picked up and wrapped and delivered to the Cebu airport for the first flight to Manila. This would get picked up and whisked home to become the centerpiece of a weekend lunch. More than the pig, I remember the old envelopes she used to tuck into the package with my name on it – usually a brief note in an incredibly distinctive script and PHP20 or so tucked in there for me to get a goody of some sort. With all that handling, transportation, etc, the pig was a big soggy. So while we all made the motions to be thrilled to have a lechon, I always thought to myself… “what’s the big deal?” Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that I actually like paksiw na lechon more than lechon itself (in most cases, exceptions described below).

My mom’s version was a bit watery and the meat was shredding from being stewed for ages. pak3I recently tried the following recipe which would qualify as being a bit more on the “sophisticated” side but it was equally delicious. Base proportions are from a recipe of Enriqueta David-Perez but I have made changes. Start with 1.5 kilos of leftover lechon, mostly meat and skin. Add 1.5 cups of cider or native vinegar, 5 tablespoons of soy sauce, some salt, several cloves of garlic, whole peppercorns and 3 laurel (bay) leaves. I then added 3 tablespoons of the most fantastic organic muscovado sugar, one whole cinnamon stick and five sprigs of fresh thyme (substitute a smidgen of ground cinnamon or dried thyme if necessary). Boil on medium heat in a covered heavy casserole until meat is somewhat tender. Add a bit of water if it seems to be drying out. Then add 1.5-2.5 cups of lechon sauce (liver sauce) and let this cook until tender. Serve with steamed rice. Delicious! The muscovado and cinnamon gave this that little edge over the more basic recipe. The color was also stunning. I removed the cinnamon stick after 15 minutes to achieve a subtle flavor, not overpowering. The thyme worked surprisingly well. Tastes great when reheated as well, even better with my tart achara.

Now, what are those exceptions to the not keen on lechon rule? We have friends who know how to do lechon right. In their backyard they have a lechon roasting pit and the pig(s) are gently turned on a spit until perfect, then rushed to the buffet table sizzling hot. As you peel humongous sections of hot lechon skin, steam is still escaping from the butt of the pig. That is key… the skin is superb and at its best when the steam is still escaping from the butt…remember that bit of Marketman wisdom! Dip the skin in either liver sauce or just patis (fish sauce) and kalamansi (calamondin) and I am in lechon skin heaven. The meat tastes great as well but give me 72 square inches (1/2 square foot) of lechon skin done right and I will be one happy camper for the rest of the week!


16 Responses

  1. I’m not too hot about lechon paksiw only because the type cooked in our household was this grayish hodge podge of strings of lechon and curly, chewy skin that looked like tenga ng daga mushroom. Tasted good but visually unappetizing. What you just featured, MM, is as stunning as glistening pork adobo. I can just imagine the delightful sweetness lent by the muscovado — which now comes in the cutest “rock” format known as Musco rocks– our rustic version of the sugar cubes — and the cinnamon. Thank God too for the Indian grocery stores that sell cinnamon sticks!

    My other favorite lechon left-over indulgence is the fried lechon which is just the best breakfast when paired with garlic rice — this is a great trick to save all the white meat that gets left behind when the frontliner lechon skin charges the mouth of gluttons. Ay nako. Killer sa sarap.

    Gaita Fores also has an innovative take on lechon with her Sinigang na Lechon offered in Cafe Bola. Sounds strange but tastes really good.

  2. I am not a fan of paksiw na lechon. Never was. For some reason, the combination of fatty, buttery lechon meat and vinegar just doesn’t sit well with me. Give me lechon (before it is turned into paksiw) any day. If you give me cochinillo instead, then I will be your friend for life. Mmmm… Casa Armas…

  3. Paksew na lechon is not as popular as it ought to be because people regard it as merely a recyling attempt to utilize the unconsumed portions of lechon, usually the earthier parts such as the hocks, trotters and the head. To throw in the remaining salsa to sweeten the pot makes a lot of sense. Prepared express as you did, it can be an attractive looking and sublime tasting dish. To add a suspicion of cinnamon and thyme, now we are talking sensibility. I therefore have to add canela and tomillo to the margin of my Enriqueta David-Perez.

  4. Paksiw na lechon is one of those dishes that you either love or hate. With cinammon and thyme, I think its worth trying. The best I’ve tried is what grandma (of course!) used to make but she would fry the pieces of lechon meat with skins on and add on lechon kawali for good measure before settng them up for the simmering. Her sauce of choice, Sarsa of Mang Tomas straight from Laloma before it was commercialized into that familar super sarsa today. My mother spirits away choice pieces to turn into paksiw on the same day.

  5. I love lechon paksiw, especially when the meat is stewed several hours and you get that sticky sauce because of the fat from the lechon. We have another way of eating left over lechon, we fry it with rock salt and serve it with fried rice. Sarap!

  6. Gosh, I thought everyone loved paksiw na lechon! Just shows you how little I know. I also love fried lechon, talk about going over the top. Kinda like fried adobo flakes. I don’t use all the dregs…couldn’t face the head of the lechon that many throw into the paksiw…I keep thinking the ear wax will melt into the stew. The cinnamon and thyme are really quite good. Thanks everyone for those comments/insights!

  7. In our family, my brother & dad prefer paksiw na lechon to lechon. I prefer lechon, pre-paksiw. My brother said paksiw, when done well is much more enjoyable. I thought all paksiw was the same but after reading Gigi’s post, I guess not.

    Speaking of Casa Armas, its owner Jesus got into a bad car accident in Spain where one of the people in the car died. He’s in ICU, undergoing dialysis. They’re asking for prayers.

  8. Yikes, how awful. I hope he recovers soon. The food Gods must intervene for someone who has fed so many so well…

  9. i could also use this recipe for my leftover lechon manok… would probably taste the same but healthier and guilt-free :)

  10. Just an update, Señor Armas succumbed to his injuries two days ago in Spain. Please pray for his eternal rest.

  11. I will give you dear friends THE ULTIMATE _ PAKSIW NA LECHON RECIPE!

    Have pieces of ‘lechon’ leftovers in the kettle and pour some sukang paumbong, a little bit of salt, crushed garlic, a teaspoon of mascovado sugar, a little bit of water and boil them all until have of the liquid evaporated.

    This recipe will replace Cleopatra’s aphrodisiac.

  12. I share the same sentiments as that of MarketMan, I only like lechon if served hot and fresh out of the pit. But otherwise, i’d go for lechon paksiw any time of the day. And surprisingly, our lechon paksiw recipe is quite similar to MarketMans’ sans the cinnamon and the thyme though.

  13. Just perfect timing, it was my parents wedding anniv yesterday, and oh yes Happy Father’s Day to you MarketMan (belated) and to all the dads out there; anyway, we have left over lechon, and i was looking for a recipe for paksiw na lechon, i will try it tonight and we’ll see how it will turn out! By the looks of your photo, it should be good! But i might just use regular vinegar though, i find that using apple cider is a bit to “asim” for our tastebuds, ehehe

  14. i hv a lechon business here in tarlac and evrytime i hv leftover lechon,ill pushed it to lechon paksiw..way back from yrs.ago as my busness stood 4 almost,tarlaquenos loved lechon paksiw…my wife lovd cooking and purely liver sauce as our sauce combines heavy liver,vinegar and spices,still she adds laurel leaves,sugar,rock salt n pepper..but the secret of it all was the spcial liver sauce we had..continue boiling until the meat bcomes real tender,PERFECT!!!!

  15. Your version of paksiw na lechon sounds so appetizing I will definintely try preparing it. thanks.




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