Lechon Kawali Recipe – There is plenty of pork dishes you can enjoy in Filipino cuisine. Among them is Lechon Kawali, a classic pork belly dish. Otherwise known as lechon de carajay, this pork belly dish stands out for its extra crisp skin and tender meat. The dish is basically pork belly slabs cut into cubes, seasoned, then deep-fried in a pan or wok. It is also a common accompaniment or ingredient to stir-fried water spinach with shrimp paste.
When eating this dish, a good pair is a dipping sauce like lechon sauce. Lechon sauce is made from vinegar and pork liver, another dipping sauce option is soy sauce with calamansi. However, if the dish is deep-fried extensively until golden brown and crispy, it is no longer lechon kawali. Rather, it is the Ilocano bagnet, a variant of chicharon. If you want to make a proper Filipino pork belly dish, this lechon kawali recipe is one option to use:
- 4 pounds whole pork belly
- 1 head garlic pounded
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup water add more to cover ingredients
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- Combine the pork belly, garlic, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves in a deep pot over medium heat and pour enough water to cover the ingredients.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then skim the scum that floats to the top. Once they are cleaned, lower the heat and cover the pot. Continue to cook the ingredients for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is fork-tender but not falling apart.
- Drain the pork then remove any stray aromatics.
- Allow the meat to cool then pat it dry with paper towels.
- Score the skin using the tines of a fork then brush the skin with vinegar.
- Set the meat on a wire rack and refrigerate it overnight to completely cool and dry it. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and scrape off the salt.
- In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, pour enough oil to completely cover the meat and heat it to about 350 F to 375 F.
- Carefully place the meat in the hot oil and fry, turning as needed, until it is golden and the skin is crisp and puffed.
- Remove the meat from the pot and drain it on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
- Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes, then cut it into serving pieces.
- Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.
Similar Dishes to Lechon Kawali
Depending on the way you fry the meat, you can end up with Ilocano bagnet rather than lechon kawali. Bagnet is a pork belly dish native to Illocano and is generally known as chicharon. Similar to lechon kawali, the meat is cooked with aromatics and then fried to crispness. The difference between the two is that bagnet is deep fried to a crispier texture. It can be eaten as part of other dishes like pinakbet and dinardaraan and paired with dipping sauces based on vinegar.