We’re talking about lechon de leche stuffed with truffle rice or sisig rice, with tasty meat and crackling skin that leaves a glorious gloss on the lips.
Stuffed lechon is Dedet de la Fuente’s specialty. It is part of Inquirer Lifestyle’s List of Best Lechon 2012 and has since become a certified crowd-pleaser—whether in London, where it was declared the Tastiest Fast Feast in Asia by Chowzter’s World’s Tastiest Fast Feasts Awards; or in Singapore, where it was recently served in the World Street Food Congress.
In Manila, stuffed lechon can be had in degustation dinners hosted by De la Fuente’s catering company called Pepitas Kitchen.
Until June 14, her specialty is the star of the buffet “Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen,” which Diamond Hotel is holding at its Corniche restaurant to celebrate Independence Day.
Edwin Acuyan, Diamond Hotel Philippines food and beverage manager, says that, as featured chef, De la Fuente “had a free hand in creating the dishes that will showcase the Filipino talent.”
Buffet means “unli” lechon, but be ready to line up for it, since people love it. We even spotted the recently crowned Miss Philippines-Earth 2015 winners waiting in line for the tasty treat during the launch.
No big tricks
De la Fuente says there aren’t really big tricks in making her blockbuster lechon.
“I cook it like any other lechon. It has someachueteto add color to the skin, some lemongrass, and salt and pepper. I don’t usevetsin,” she says. “It is cooked just right; maybe it’s the care I put into cooking that makes it flavorful. It doesn’t even have sauce.”
For the Independence Day buffet, De la Fuente came up with creative ways to present Filipino food; for starters, Tinapa Potato Salad, Bicol Express Sisig, Fish Sisig in Crispy Wonton, and Balut Salpicao—an accessible way of eating balut, a staple in bizarre food challenges.
Try out the mini scones paired with unusual paté flavors: balut, laing, liver with mango; or with Mr. Thomas Butter—butter flavored with the popular bottled lechon sauce.
They’re fine, rich and creamy as paté and butter should be, but may be an acquired taste to some.
For seafood, have some crab with aligue, and Hiplog, or shrimps in salted-egg sauce, which are delightful to be eaten by themselves or as ulam with hot, steaming rice.
Also in the buffet is “German-style” goto with foie gras cubes and native lechon roulade, by Diamond Hotel executive chef Marko Rankel. He and De la Fuente collaborated on a three-cycle buffet menu of fiesta food: Oxtail Kare-Kare, Pininyahang Manok, Ginisang Munggo na may Bagnet, Pinakbet na may Sugpo, Rellenong Bangus, grilled meat and fish.
De la Fuente’s creativity shines through in her dining novelties, such as her Pancit Parañaque, pancit miki with chopped pork cheeks, and her Pangat na Tanguige sa Kamias na Binalot sa Lotus.
“I’m not a chef; ako ay kusinera na matakaw at mahilig magluto,” De la Fuente says, laughing.
Her desserts are as popular as her lechon. De la Fuente’s Super Suman with a carnival of toppings (Choc-Nut, macapuno, ube pastillas) and her Pinoy Mango Trifle with crushed otap and pilipit are included in Inquirer Lifestyle’s Best Desserts list.
“Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen” buffet runs until June 14 at Corniche in Diamond Hotel, at P2,150 nett for lunch and P2,550 nett for dinner per person. Guests spending at least P5,000 may win round-trip airline tickets for two to Boracay. Tel. 5283000; www.diamondhotel.com.