There was a classic jest at home when I was younger whenever we asked our lola what’s for dinner—she would respond that we’re having lechong kawali, then she would hand me the kawali (lechong kawali literally means roasted wok).
Of course, lechong kawali is neither a lechon (roast) nor a kawali (wok). It is what you make at home when you’re craving for a lechon, but don’t have the time or the luxury to buy or roast an entire pig. Lechon is usually only served during special occasions.
Filipinos created lechong kawali (perhaps with Chinese influence) as an attempt to ‘imitate’ the succulence of a lechon without all the fuss. Although this simple pork belly dish is not roasted, it is cooked twice: by boiling and deep frying. Some recipes require a second deep fry to achieve that crispy pork skin. Traditionally, the pork belly is cooked in a kawali hence the name, but any deep pan can be used.
Check out the recipe below:
Lechong Kawali Recipe
You will need:
- 1 kg whole pork belly (liempo)
- 1 tbsp whole pepper
- 1 tbsp rock salt
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (patis)
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 1 bulb garlic, peeled
- water for boiling
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- In a large pot, place the pork belly, pepper, salt, soy sauce, onion, patis, garlic, and enough water so the meat is submerged. Cover and bring to a boil. Skim out the scum (foam build up), and turn down the heat to low. Simmer for about 1 hour or until it’s tender.
- Drain and place the meat on a large plate. Pat dry with a paper towel and allow to cool.
- Score the skin with a knife or pierce it with a fork. Brush the skin with vinegar. Chill the meat in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or allow to air dry at room temperature for about 3 hours.
- Cut the pork belly into about 1-inch thick slices.
- In a large deep pan or kawali, heat oil for deep frying. Fry pork slices until golden brown. Place lechong kawali on a baking rack or a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
- Serve with liver gravy, lechon sauce, or soy sauce with chili and calamansi.