Lechon Kawali is a crispy deep fried pork belly. This Spanish-influenced dish is a version of the original Lechon introduced by the Spaniards during their colony. The original Lechon skews the whole pig using a bamboo to be roasted over the heat of flamed charcoal, while Lechon Kawali uses a method of deep frying the pork belly in oil to achieve a delicious crispy pork meat. Lechon Kawali also resembles the famous Bagnet dish of the Ilocanos. Their main differences is that Bagnet's meat is dry, light, and crackles, while Lechon Kawali is crispy and moist. "Kawali" is a Tagalog term referring to a wok or deep frying pan. Lechon Kawali, most probably, originated from the regions of the Tagalogs. It could be that this dish originated where the method of boiling and deep frying of pork belly is popular, particularly in Bulacan where you can find one of the best Chicharon Baboy in the Philippines.
Preparing Lechon Kawali is interesting. To begin with your cooking is to prepare a slab of pork belly with skin intact. Boil the meat in salted water and other spices until it becomes tender. Drain, let dry, and cool, and then deep fry in hot cooking oil until skin puffs and turns crisp, giving you a crackling effect on the skin. Chop the slab and serve in a plate.
The whole process of cooking seems very easy but there are some things that needs to be considered to make your Lechon Kawali as best as ever. One consideration is to make sure that the liquid where you boil your pork belly is tasty enough as to make the meat delicious. The meat will simply absorb the spices of the liquid so make sure that the liquid is flavorsome for boiling. Another consideration is for you to choose a good cut of pork belly, where the fat and meat, as much as possible, is evenly distributed throughout the whole slab. This will give you a better result of an even or balance fried meat on all sides and portions. Dry the meat and let it cool. Freezing the meat in the refrigerator after boiling will accelerate the cooling process and also, cooling will result in a crispier skin when fried.
Lechon Kawali can also be prepared using an oven. However, nothing is more authentic and original than using a kawali or deep frying pan. Otherwise, it can no longer be called "Lechon Kawali" but instead, "Lechon Oven".
In our recipe, we added salt and peppercorn to simply spice our boiling liquid. We added garlic to give aroma to our dish. We simply believe that if the food smells good, the more you will be enticed to eat the dish. Our additional secret ingredient is 7-up soda to better enhance the taste of our boiling liquid and to make our Lechon Kawali even crispier.
Lechon Kawali Ingredients
- 1 kilo pork belly (liempo)
- 2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon peppercorns
- 4 cloves garlic; pounded
- 1 bottle 7-up (optional)
- Cooking oil
- Sauce Ingredients:
- Soy sauce
- Onion ; chopped
- Garlic; minced
- Mang Tomas lechon sauce (optional)
Lechon Kawali Cooking Instructions
- Boil water with salt, garlic, peppercorn, and 7-up.
- Add pork and continue boiling until tender.
- Strain pork, keep dry, and cool.
- Deep fry in hot cooking oil until golden brown and crispy.
- Chop the lechon kawali and serve together with the lechon sauce.