Lechon: not just your ordinary pig roast dish.
Ever tried native filipino food? In the Philippine culture, celebrations are not considered complete without the roasted pig. This pork delicacy, commonly known as lechon by the locals, is the highlight of every Filipino holiday. Every birthday, wedding, baptism, fiesta or any other special event will always have this crispy-skinned beauty on the table as the king of the food preparation.
Lechon even gained world recognition when it was declared the “Best Pig” in TIME Magazine’s Best of Asia 2009 list. It’s simply delicious filipino food. TIME said that the idea came from celebrity TV chef Anthony Bourdain, when he claimed on his hit travel-food show “No Reservations” that Cebu lechon was the “best pig ever.”
In the Visayas and Mindanao areas of the Philippines, lechon is known to be paired with hanging rice, commonly known as puso, rather than plain rice. Puso is cooked rice wrapped in woven coconut-leave pouches. This type of preparation makes the rice compact and can be eaten easily using your hands. It is usually paired with barbecue as well.
How is it prepared?
Originating from a Spanish word that means suckling pig that is roasted, lechon is prepared by cooking the whole pig over a pit of charcoal. You will notice the pig already prepared in the filipino food market below.
After cleaning the pig, entrails are removed and the entire body is seasoned. The pig is stuffed with a combination of lemongrass, spices, onions and many more, which differs in every region of the country. Once done, the pig is skewered in a large bamboo stick and roasted slowly over a pit of charcoal. The pig is rotated on the spit for several hours until it becomes crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
Puso, on the other hand, is essentially boiled rice wrapped in coconut leaves that is weaved into the shape of a diamond. But not everyone can make the perfect puso. It is a special skill and craft not everyone has.
The first step in preparing this filipino food dish is the diamond-shaped shell. Then, rice grains are poured into the shell. There is no gadget to measure the exact amount of rice grains per pouch. Only the skillful puso maker estimates that. The sealed shell with grains are then boiled until the rice grows and becomes soft.
Where can it be bought?
Lechon is available all over the Philippines, you can find it in market stalls and a couple of restaurants. You can also buy a live pig and have it cooked by friends and neighbors who know how to lechon. But of all the pigs I’ve tried, I will have to say that the lechon and puso in Cebu is the best. Cebu recipe has the tastiest and juiciest lechon I have ever tasted. You can try the following stores: Zubuchon, Ayer’s Lechon, CnT Lechon, Alejo’s and many others. Puso can be bought in markets and various food stalls as well.
Cebu is an island in the central region of the Philippines that is very easy to reach through air travel. There is an international airport on this island and is also accessible to residents from nearby regions.
So the next time you happen to visit the Philippines, don’t forget to try out lechon and puso! Tell your family and friends about it!
About the author: Melissa Page is a passionate writer who currently works for Seven Corners, an international travel health insurance company. When she is not writing, she plays bowling with her friends. You can follow her at @Melissa90.