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Tasty Roasted Whole Pig - Lechon

Updated on November 24, 2012

The Main Highlight of Every Celebration

A feast will never be complete without the presence of a lechon with an apple in its mouth. It is in fact became a Filipino tradition that when there are special events such as birthdays, feast days, graduations, baptismal celebration and many other celebrations, there should really be a lechon in the dining table. Well, that remains to be true from the people in every corner of the Philippines, from Luzon, Visayas up to Mindanao.

It is considered to be the main highlight of any celebrations. Because no matter how much money you spent on the decorations and the venue, your guests will still put their main focus on the lechon appearance and most especially its taste. It is indeed captivated and captured not only our hearts but as well as our appetite.

But before anything else, have you ever ask yourself how we come up with this type of delicacy? What about its history? How is it cooked? Well, the answers lie below, so keep on reading!

Lechon
Lechon

History

Many speculations have evolved when it comes to lechon’s real origin. One speculation states that it is derived from ‘lechón’, a Spanish term which simply means suckling pig. Suckling pig is a piglet with is fond of sucking its mother’s breasts just to drink and have some milk. This type of pig is actually a piglet which is killed when it is only about 2 to 6 weeks old.

Another speculation says that that it actually came from that of the Chinese but as time goes by, Filipinos adapted it and then made their own version – that instead of this young piglet, an adult is used. Well, if you’d asked me, I’d prefer to believe that it came from the Spaniards since they have influenced almost all our Filipino cuisine nowadays when they invaded the country for almost four hundred years.

How it is cooked

It is not only popular here in the Philippines but also in many countries such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Spain and many others. Its cooking procedures are just simple and have a resemblance on the Chinese Peking Duck and Balinese Guling Cleng. But it involves a long duration of time in roasting.

So basically, after you killed the pig or young piglet, you must get its blood, internal organs and then prepare the ingredients and equipments to be used in roasting. First, you will need:

× Lemon grass/ tanglad (you can also use spring onion or tamarind as a substitute) for the aroma

× Long bamboo or metal stick

× Sufficient amount of charcoal

× Brush (unused or made of banana leaves with a stick)

After you remove all its internal organs, put the lemon grass/ tanglad into the pig’s body. Get the bamboo or metal stick (which is now used) and pierce the pig begging from its mouth up to its anus. Provide a stand in both ends of the stick to help you roll steadily the stick. Rotate it continuously for about 3 hours or so until it becomes brown all over.

Sometimes, while rotating the stick, some people are pouring and brushing in some cooking oil onto its skin so that it can be easily roasted but other people prefer not to do it so, since it has body fats which basically serve as the oil.

Why is it popular?

The main reason of its great popularity is because it is a delicacy which is so versatile that it can be combined with any ingredients and then come up with many brand new dishes. These brand new dishes can be sometimes termed as the recycled dishes. An example of these dishes is lechon paksiw (paksiw na litson) which consists of leftover meat soaked in vinegar.

The most popular part of the lechon which usually eaten by many is the pig’s skin. Even I love it because of its crispiness and it is the most delicious part which can be dipped in a gravy sauce or sometimes catsup.

Famous Lechon Restaurants

The Philippines is consists of 7,107 islands throughout the country, so you can expect that every island has its own versions or processes on how to roast lechon with its selected variant (chicken, pig, turkey, cattle). Here are the top ten most famous restaurants that can be found in all parts of the country listed by an online newsletter, Spot.

1. The restaurant that got the number spot is General’s Lechon located in Paranaque City. It has Negros style lechon which basically have the traditional lechon served with such crispy delicious skin which makes you eat more without any additional gravy sauce.

2. Next to the top is Elar’s which is located in Quezon City. It serves lechon with such perfectly colored roasted skin, and meat which is tender and best if dipped into soy sauce.

3. The third to the most famous restaurants that serve lechon is Ulcing’s located in Taguig City. This has a version of Cebu lechon which basically has a skin with salty and little oily taste which can be dipped in a gravy or even in a vinegar.

4. Mila’s Lechon got the fourth place in being the most famous lechon restaurants. It is located in some parts of Quezon City as well as in Mandaluyong City. It serves a juicy and tender meat with a crispy skin which will definitely be loved by many lechon-eaters. Aside from that, it can be accompanied by a sweet tasty sauce.

5. Aling Loring’s go the fifth place. This restaurant is famous for being the main producer of lechon to many celebrities and VIPs such as Joseph Estrada and his son, Jinggoy. Its smooth thin lechon skin is so crispy and tasty which is then served with a distinct type of sauce of liver and pepper with a sweet taste of it.

6. Cris Native Lechon is another restaurant which is famous for serving a Cebu style version of lechon. Lemon grass and other spices are placed inside the body of the lechon to make it tastier. The skin is then brushed with molasses while in the process of roasting. It is located in Quezon City.

Actually there are a lot of other restaurants which are famous for their delicious lechon versions and specialties. One example is La Loma, located in Metro Manila which also offers the traditional style of lechon but has its own version of it. But here above, I only mentioned six restaurants which are the ones that are really popular especially for those living in Manila. But if you want to add your restaurant here in this few list, better strive harder to attain that ideal and most delicious lechon ever roasted not only here in our country but also throughout the globe!

Different Types of Lechon Variants in the Philippines

Aside from the pig, which is actually the original animal that is killed and being roasted, other animals can be a subject of the lechon. These animals include chicken, cattle/ calf or even turkeys which are also served during many gatherings and celebrations in the absence of pig as the lechon. Well this is just one of the Filipino versions that evolved through time.

Chicken, which is also a most common one, is even marinated and then roasted in a store here in our area called Chok’s To Go. It is really tasty believe me. And aside from the pork lechon, this type is my most favorite type since it has tender meat and not so oily skin.

And last June, my husband and I celebrated the first birthday of our one and only son, Johann. It is not that grand celebration but just a simple one. We choose to have two roasted turkeys as a substitute to the traditional pork lechon. To tell you honestly, that was my first time to taste turkey as the lechon and I am not really happy about the taste. Maybe because I am not used to its taste or I don’t know. We chose our neighbors to make the lechon since in our area, I believe, they are the most famous for cooking the most delicious lechon.

Anyway, the number one reason why we chose turkey as the main lechon during that time is because my niece and my brother-in-law are both born Muslims (people who have Islam as their religion). I guess everybody knows that Muslims are not fond of eating pork especially lechon and dinuguan, a Filipino dish with pork meat and pig’s blood as the sauce. In fact, even the smell of the pig is stinky to their smell senses. SO we preferred to consider them and go on with the turkey lechon.

And another reason is that almost all our guests during that time, who are co-workers of my older sister, have already attended another birthday party and they told us that they want to try something new other than the pork lechon. So that explains it all.

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