Small plates are a popular option for communal dining, but in the Philippines, lechon does it best. Due to its meticulous process and its impressive size, this whole-pig roast becomes a premium dish reserved for social gatherings such as birthdays, weddings and even death anniversaries.
The name ‘lechon’ comes from the country’s former coloniser, Spain and basically means ‘suckling pig.’ The community takes pride in using only native livestock, which are juicier and leaner than the hybrids. Piglets are stuffed with aromatic ingredients like leeks, garlic, lemongrass and onions, and then basted with either soy sauce, oil or lemon soda. After the marinade, the pig is roasted over an open coal pit for hours until flavours are deeply infused into the meat. Once the signature crackling skin appears, the process is complete. Sliced and served on the spot, pair the roast meat with condiments of vinegar, chilli oil and liver sauce.
Restaurants in Manila also sell lechon. Family Cebu Native Lechon is a popular spot that has been around for 20 years. Their pigs are from the Tuguegarao and Cagayan Valley and molasses are the choice condiment to caramelise the skin. Another restaurant, Ucling, draws glitzy clientele such as politicians and celebrities, and produces smoky and golden brown lechon that crumbles to the bite. For a more modern take, try Pepita’s Kitchen, where meat is stuffed with truffle to chorizo-flavoured rice. Other variants include marble potatoes, chestnuts and laing (taro leaves cooked in coconut milk).
Family Cebu Native Lechon
129 N. Domingo St. corner P. Tuazon Cubao, Quezon City
Tel +63 7249353, +63 7259342, +63 7260589
A-Q6 Jusmag Area, Southside, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Tel. +63 919 3613291, +63 908 9331414
Magallanes Ave, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel. +63 2 425 4605
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