Pork Liver Sauce for Lechon Baboy


Until just hours ago, I had never made lechon sauce or pork liver sauce from scratch. My mom definitely used to do it at home and I do remember it being a bit “chunkier” than modern bottled sauces, but I don’t really recall much of her approach to making the sauce. But APM’s, Apicio’s and Sister’s comments in a recent post on lechon # 5 made it sound like it was so easy to do… So I decided to cook up several versions and see for myself… Of course the real driving force to nail a decent lechon sauce is related to the upcoming Lechon Eyeball in Cebu, even though Cebuanos traditionally would scoff at anyone putting a liver sauce near one of their lechons. The thought is, and I agree with it, that Cebuano lechons are flavorful enough on their own and do not require a liver sauce to accompany the meat.


It sounded odd to me, but if it appears in an Enriqueta David-Perez recipe book, it’s at least worth a try… so the first version of lechon sauce that I made used this oddly familiar can of Reno Brand Liver Spread. I don’t know why it is familiar to me, I have never used one before, so I am thinking it had a very memorable advertising campaign and the name has somehow stuck in my subconscious. In a small bowl, I added the contents of one small can of Reno liver spread, 1/3 cup cider vinegar, 1 and 1/2 cups of water, 1/3 cup of toasted breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup of Muscovado sugar about 1.5 teaspoons of salt (or to taste) and lots of freshly ground black pepper and stir until blended. In a saucepan, heat up some vegetable oil and saute about 8 cloves of garlic finely chopped until a light golden brown and add about several chopped shallots or approximately 2 tablespoons of chopped white onions. Stir until the onion is soft and after several minutes, add the liver liquid mixture and stir over low heat until you reach the desired consistency. Don’t make it too thick, it continues to thicken as it cools.


The resulting sauce, photo above, in the bowl at the left, was quick delicious! It tasted more homemade than the bottled Mang Tomas and it had a nice texture. I thought it may have had a tad more breadcrumbs than I would have liked but it was easy and tasty. I stuck some of this lechon sauce in a food processor and blitzed it for a few seconds and that is the sauce in the bowl at right, above. It looked a bit pale, but it tasted pretty good. And I am not sure why the blitzing would change the flavor of the same ingredients as the first lechon sauce, but I think everything got much better blended together. I liked the chunky version as it screamed homemade, but I can see why folks like the sanitized looking smoother version on the right. This sauce would probably get an 8.0/10.0 for either variation. The recipe would probably serve 8 people or so.


Emboldened by the canned liver spread sauce, I next turned to a freshly purchased HUMONGOUS pork liver weighing in at 1.5 kilos and of which I used just 100 grams or so eventually. I cut a piece that was roughly 500 grams and grilled it over a charcoal flame until a bit charred and just pink inside. This was then blitzed and it resulted in perhpas 1/2 – 3/4 cup of liver paste. The charred bits resulted in little bits of black in the liver spread. And I have to say, the liver was PUNGENT. I then sauteed some onions and garlic, used Apicio’s proportions for the muscovado and vinegar, added some water and breadcrumbs, a couple of tablespoons of freshly blitzed liver, salt and pepper and stirred this over low heat until it thickened up a bit.


This version was darker than the canned version, and it looked and smelled as authentic as it gets. I blitzed this one too, for a shorter period, and it resulted in a smoother sauce but still possessing the unmistakable hint of freshly grilled pork liver. This was good and would rate an 8.5/10.0 at least. About 100 grams of liver would make enough sauce for 8 people or so. Of course people typically make lots of extra sauce so that they can use it in the next day’s lechon paksiw as well…


Finally, I took out some Mang Tomas from a bottle in the refrigerator, and it was now clearly the commercial manufactured relative of the first two sauces I made. The bottled sauce was smoother, sweeter and with more modulated flavors. It has modified starch and preservatives added and probably didn’t use cider vinegar or muscovado, and while good, it just didn’t seem as good as the versions made from scratch. Now that I think about improvements to the recipe, I wonder what it would taste like if I used pancetta or guanciale fat to saute the onions and garlic in, or added a lot more black pepper, or even thrown in a chili or two… hmmm, I think I need one more session of lechon sauce recipes before I am ready for the eyeball… This is definitely all about balance, and you need to taste this several times as you cook it up. And I know, Cebuanos will raise their noses if I put liver sauce on the table at the eyeball… but I might do it just to see if it really does a disservice to a Cebuano lechon. Now I better remember to make a couple of bottles of homemade Marketman acharra to cut the richness of all that lechon skin and fat!


41 Responses

  1. MM, you are just too cute for words… :-D

    i do prefer my lechon with good lechon sauce. that is, the home made one–with charred liver.

  2. instead of pork liver, you can use chicken liver. easier to control the amount you need. results are equally good.
    my grandma insisted on using only pork fat for her liver sauce which really tasted good. but for us modern day cholesterol watchers . . . using olive oil yields good enough liver sauce without the guilt factor

  3. A bit off-topic but I’ve also seen that liver spread used in preparing sisig and the result is a crispy-creamy sisig that’s a bit sweet and a bit spicy. ^_^

  4. my in-laws have a thriving lechon business down south. boy, nothing beats freshly roasted pig, especially the crispy skin — OMG, cholesterol levels are skyrocketing!! although i am not a fan of liver sauce (or any kind of innard and sweetbread and minudencia, for that matter), my mom-in-law whips up a real mean sauce, so say the ‘connoisseurs.’ customers get lechon sauce and a bonus: dinuguan (a.k.a. vampire’s dish).

    nothing wasted.

  5. We grew up loving liver in all its forms! Because I was anemic as a child, my mom would make an “all-atay” adobo for breakfast! And rather frequently, pork liver steak. And that Reno Liver Spread was a pantry staple. She used it to top up the lechon sauce to make lechon paksiw from leftover lechon. Reno was also my childhood paté! Enjoyed with crackers or pan americano. You just stirred my memories of childhood, MM.

  6. lechon liver sauce prepared at home is the best! with a tempting lechon such as yours and your homemade liver sauce…who cares about cholesterol? how i wish that i can join you at your eb…

  7. Please have these sauces at the EB, MM! Cebu lechon is as good as it can get but putting lechon sauce also brings a different twist to it (actually i’m just a huge fan of lechon sauce! hehe). Having your lechon sauce, pinakurat, vinegar with lots of chopped garlic, and your acharra at the EB…wow, perfect accompaniments to the lechon with bottomless rice!(are you having “puso”?)

    now i know why you’re on a diet… :)

  8. I like lechon to stand on its own, a sauce will cover up the flavor. How about a bottle of your homemade liver sauce as a prize for a raffle or contest? :)

  9. I come from the Tagalog region and lechon for me wouldn’t be complete without the liver sauce… yumyum!=)

    I like my lechon sauce the charred pork liver way and a bit sweeter and peppery to booth with just the right amount of vinegar to balance it out. Too bad some lechonan already scrimped on liver=( Probably that or add cost I guess.

    Homemade is still the way to go.

    Newly sliced lechon pork with just the right amount of lechon skin over piping hot rice drizzled with good, homemade liver sauce… hhhhmmmmm =)

  10. I do agree that Cebuano lechon can stand on its own. I just feel that a good liver sauce serves as a great foil. I tend to alternate eating lechon with and without sauce. As for the liver I do prefer using chicken livers. Thanks for the post Market Man.

  11. so you will use the pork liver for your lechon sauce.What about the other pork innards?Dinuguan?or chicharon bulaklak?Just curious…..I would have love to join the EB but it will be too risky for my health! :(

  12. Hi MM, if you ever visit Puerto Princesa again or have friends there, try to get Mrs. Pindon’s Tambalang sauce (seaweeds and cucumber as main ingredients) at her organic farm stall in the New Market (Bagsakan) at San Jose. I guarantee you her sauce can put Mang Tomas’ to shame.

    I find her sauce a good and healthy substitute for the liver sauce. It is always a big hit whenever I serve it side by side with the liver sauce for lechon or whenever I give it away to friends and relatives as pasalubong from Puerto Princesa.

    If I were around, I would have offered to ship you some for your lechon fundraiser so you and your guests can try it. It also makes a nice oilless salad dressing. It is a shame Mrs. Pindon’s sauce has not gotten any exposure outside of Puerto Princesa.

    Mrs. Pindon is an award winning nonagenarian responsible for the manufacture of the sauce, organic vinegars and other organic products which she started more than 20 years ago, before organics were in vogue. She says she is the living testament of the efficacy of her organic health formulations. She was once with the UNESCO having been sent to the then Bangladesh to help with a livelihood program for the Bangladeshi women who put the abundance and overproduction of fruits to good use by making vinegars.

    Have a fun Lechon Eyeball in Cebu!

  13. Dear Marketman,

    When Iam in Cebu for the occasional visit of our dealer we naturally feast on Cebu lechon. Recently, at the urging of our Cebu colleagues we have been dipping lechon in “pinakurat vinegar” a vinegar marinade with chillies, pepper, etc… It neutralizes the fat taste and the heat flares up the appetite.

    With your mention of achara, I wonder what salsa (raw or cooked)will pair with lechon?

  14. Mel, pinakurat is a good dip. Cebuanos also like to do a onion, vinegar, soy sauce, tomato and ginger dip and I am sure there are lots of others that work. A family I know who LOVES lechon serves it with good patis and kalamansi… it’s also good.. I suspect there would be lots of fresh salsas for lechon meat. But for me, vinegary veggies like egplant salad, tomatoes and red egg, and even lukot (sea hare secretions) and vinegar are ideal for my palate…

  15. I always use lechon sauce. Not only for lechon. Mang Tomas eversince i could remember. Thanks for this MM! I’ll defintely try doing my own!

  16. Hot chilis would be a good addition to the liver sauce, just don’t make the sauce too sweet which is a common mistake.

  17. I like lechon both ways, but since I am Tagalog, I am more accustomed to the liver sauce. Or some sawsawan for that matter. Have you tried Palm liver spread, MM? It is the bomb of liver spreads without going too gourmety.

  18. I always wonder how to make lechon sauce better than the bottled one. I tried using fresh pork liver (pan-fried) but did not turn out well, not I know I will have to charcoal grill it. I am going back to Pinas next year for my annual Clowning ministry in Quezon, and I am having lechon in the celebration party after the service. This one of my lifetime dream for a long time, to have a whole lechon serve in my own party. I already asked a cousin to purchase a piglet and take care of it in his farm and to be sure to give it non-chemical feeds. Same with a dozen of chicken which I would also lechon-cook. The chickens will be free-roaming in his farm. I think that is what they called native. Thanks for testing this recipe.

  19. EbbaMyra and others, I understand comments from APM and others who suggest using chicken livers, they have a similar texture without the very strong taste of the pig’s liver… but I suppose the pig’s liver is more “authentic”… Maybe next time I will try using chicken livers as well… sister, I did think I should try a version with a few siling labuyo… the mixture of sour, sweet, salty and heat would be spectacular! Lei, yes, thanks for that link… I skipped this year’s awards but I am surprised I won anything…

  20. My late Dad use to make from scratch, pork liver sauce for our cebu style lechon. So as a kid, I always wondered why other homes had no lechon sauce with their lechon.

  21. it’s amazing to “hear” MM’s fervor in discovery of the best lechon sauce. parang mad scientist

  22. Oww, I wasn’t going to use chicken livers for the sauce, I want the authentic one like yours. I was going to use the chickens to make lechnon-chicken. Pinoy here started doing that. Ummm, I wanted if I should prick the skin? Right now I am here at my office lunch break and I brought 2 pcs. KFC, I am daydreaming that these are lechon, and the mashed-potato and gravy is the sauce.. hahaha. And the coleslaw the atchara. One can dream.. right?

  23. Well, OF COURSE you would also start experimenting with your own homemade liver sauce! How could I *not* have expected that?! ;-) Ooooh, you are making me all the more excited for the EB, as even the sauce is now something to anticipate! And, yes, I think you should serve liver sauce. First of all, there will be some non-Cebuano “imports” at the EB (like me!) who enjoy liver sauce with their lechon. Secondly, although I agree that Cebu lechon is tasty enough not to need sauce, I don’t actually put sauce because the lechon needs it; I put it because I like the sauce! Besides, if Cebuanos dip their lechon in soy sauce and/or vinegar, how is that so different? And finally, judging from your last couple of lechon recipes, you’re not making a totally traditional Cebu lechon, anyway. So why not serve your Lechon a la Marketman with Liver Sauce a la Marketman? :-D

  24. MM,

    On your next liver sauce experiment, try adding a piece or two of star anise while cooking the sauce. It adds a new dimension to the taste of the sauce.

    To lessen the cholesterol overload, I just mix all the ingredients (chopped grilled pork liver, garlic, onions, black pepper, breadcrumbs, sugar, vinegar and water) and simmer the mixture over low fire until thick. Do not stir the sauce until it comes to a boil para hindi mahilaw ang suka.

    The sauce would even taste better if the grilled pork liver is pounded into a paste using the old fashion dikdikan. Then mashed the paste in water to extract most of the flavor. I only do this if I have the luxury of time and if I am on the exercise mode coz pounding the liver into a paste is one hell of a job!

  25. Tagalogs are really partial to lechon with liver sauce.it’s in the… trained tastebuds;but so far liver sauce from Bulacan is my choice-I am referring to the liver sauce made by the old womenfolks,.

    I can do it by oido, no measuring as the expert cooks do. Anyway,you could try it yourself and adjust to taste .
    1kilo pork liver
    2 cups of vivnegar( cane vinegar)
    2 cups of sugar
    5tbsps. anatto seeds(for color and a bit of taste)
    4 pcs. big red ,red capsicum peppers
    1 clove minced garlic
    4 pcs. big onions(red -but old folks insist on shallots)(minced
    pepper to taste
    salt ( to balance all taste
    1/2 cup flour ( if you like heavier texture you can use galletas


    Steam the liver.When it is cooked ,let it cool and then shred in an ordinary shredder. Then mixed it with the vinegar and sugar and salt> Put in a blender till the liver is smooth. Then add the garlic,onions,minced cupsicum and pepper until they are blended well.
    Next, sautee extra garlic,onion and then add the juice of the anatto seeds( we saute the anatto seeds to avoid the masangsang ; taste of the anatto. After that pur the blended mixture and let it boil slowly,avoid stirring; let it cook for 20 minutes-slow fire.taste it and then slowly add in the 1/2 cup of flour diluted in water. You can add more
    flour,salt,sugar or vinegar while you are still cooking it.But common sense dictate that you could do it while you are blending it.

    The last time I do a liver sauce was for a picnic for the business associates of my uncle -they have their own lechon with them..but when they tasted my own lechon and liver sauce they abandoned their own lechon on their table and they were just crazy about my liver sauce.

  26. Hey EbbaMyra…When I make lechon chicken at home, I brine the chicken…completely submerged in this concoction>4 cups cold water, 2 tsp. salt, 2 tsps. garlicky seasoned salt, 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Depending on the size of the chicken, you may need to do more. Use a plastic bucket or glass. Then drain thoroughly and air dry. If i”m lazy, I just put it on a rack uncovered and put it in the refrigerator overnight so the air circulating will sort of air dry it. Now, of course, your entire fridge will smell garlic! Other option, use an electric fan….just like what they do to make Peking Duck. Then secure yur chicken in a rotisserie and barbecue away initially on high heat and then crank the temp. down to medium low …it will take about an hour.The skin is crispy when done and the meat is soooo moist with just the right flavour. You can stuff the cavity with your aromatics before roasting!

  27. hey marketman…

    try mo nga itong standard family recipe namin sa arayat…di ko pa alam kung OK. i submitted this to memories of philippine kitchens pero di ginamit.

    let me know kung swak na swak. wala kasing recipe yung mga nagluluto sa arayat eh. ayan, nang-imbento tuloy ako…



    This salsa lechón was the specialty of Ate Conching, one of my grandmother’s cooks and one of her goddaughters. She never took over the kitchen herself, but was always called on to make the salsa lechón, tidtad bigac (loin from a very young pig stewed in its own blood) and rellenong manok (a braised galantine of native chicken). My father’s cook says that the recipe we use today began with her, but no one really knows who taught her, or how it became her specialty. One story – from the former family handyman, our cook’s older brother – says she learned it from my grandfather’s driver.

    Many families in Arayat prefer a salsa lechón that is a sweet, light brown and smothered in soft onions. Ate Conching preferred a bolder version, where sweetness from sugar, and sourness from vinegar clash over the roasted pork, with the crumbs of toasted garlic and crushed black peppers providing texture. The sauce is also good for lechón kawali, for which most cooks substitute liver spread for fresh pork liver. It also makes for the base of a sumptuous paksiw lechón from the head and ribs of the leftover lechón.

    Again, it is always cooked over wood fire in the old house in Arayat, but can easily be done in an urban home. The pork livers can be toasted in the oven, or grilled on top of a stove like a steak. The meat can be ground with a food processor, instead of the manual food mill used in Arayat. Cooking the sauce is fairly simple, but there are tricks to remember to achieve the deep brown color and bold flavor.

    One: squeeze the meat in the vinegar well, extracting as much flavor from the liver as you can. Use your hands. Two: toast generous amounts of garlic first until brown, and remove from the pan. Use the garlic-flavored oil to sauteé the onions, which will make the base of the sauce. Three: never, ever stir the vinegar until it boils, otherwise you end up with the raw taste of vinegar. If you want to add more vinegar while the sauce is cooking, boil the vinegar separately and then add to the sauce. Four: when choosing the biscocho, get the lightest ones and use them (or breadcrumbs) sparingly. You don’t want a thick glob that looks like porridge. Five: the rule of thumb is 1:1:2; that is, one cup of vinegar, one kilo of liver, two cups water. Add the sugar to taste.

    My mother once asked Ate Conching when one knows if the sauce is ready. “When sweet and sour begin to clash,” Ate Conching replied. “That’s when you stop.”

    1 kilo pork liver, grilled over wood or charcoal, ground to a paste
    100-200 grams Biscocho or bread crumbs, crushed
    6 heads of garlic, crushed and toasted brown
    5 large onions, diced
    1 cup vinegar
    1 cup white sugar, added slowly
    2 cups water
    Oil or lard

    1. Grill the pork liver, cool, and grind to a paste.
    2. Soak the liver in vinegar-water mixture. Squeeze as much juice as you can from the liver – pressing constantly – and discard the meat. Allow to sit.
    3. Cover pan in oil or lard. Toast garlic, remove once brown and save.
    4. Sautee generous amounts of diced onions in the garlic-flavored oil.
    5. Pour liver juice mixture into the oil, and boil over medium heat. Do not stir and sauce until it has boiled for a minute or two.
    6. Add breadcrumbs for thickness and stir. The sauce at this point should start turning dark brown. The sauce will thicken with the addition of white sugar, so use breadcrumbs sparingly.
    7. Add black pepper and sugar to taste.
    8. When sauce is a deep brown, transfer to serving bowl and top with the toasted garlic.

    * If the sauce is too sweet, you can add vinegar by boiling a small amount in a separate pan– say, ¼ cup – and adding it to the sauce. Be sure to cook the vinegar first by boiling it for a minute or two, otherwise you get the raw taste of vinegar.

  28. I was reading Marc’s recipe for the “sarsa”and it is very similar to the one that I make. I was reading how you did your “sarsa”and I noticed that you did not reserve some toasted/browned garlic to be mixed later when you have cooked everything. I don’t just top it to the finished product I actually mixed it to my finished product the taste is more good specially if you’re a garlic person. I also not only grill my pork liver but also the bread that I use. I hope that I can be eating a very good lechon soon because some of the lechon here are mostly cooked in Chinese restaurants and they add certain spices even if they advertise Filipino style lechon.

  29. hey marketman,

    i-bottle mo tapos benta mo sa salcedo market. nakakasuka yung lechon sauce nila dun. at hindi ako ang nag-approve kaya huwag mo akong sisihin (joke!).

    considered “favorite streets foods” ba yung mga tinitinda sa salcedo market? wala lang…just asking…


  30. lechon from cebu ohmmmmm yummy!! just give me the crispy skin with sauce or without don’t disturb me I’m in heaven. Lechon made in Cebu is the best, lechon ever!!!

  31. im planning to start a lechon baboy business, and i dont have a recipe for sauce of my lechon. can someone give me a recipe or any recommended site, pls help me. you can email me at lourencejohnsmaravilla@yahoo.com or tx me at 09196297100. any tips or suggestion, also in while cooking the lechon, is i will really appreciate it. thank you mga kbabayan. more power to this site. its very helpful

  32. Grandmas recipe of lechon ”pibre” or sauce is the best!!! Mahihiya si Mang Tomas hwhehe!!!

  33. i’m sorry but you talk to much. you really have a first class blog but i have no time to read. i always end up to your blog though and just select the recipe to print. hope you don’t mind my opinion.



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