‘Lechon’ the traditional way, or rolled ‘liempo’–you can do it yourself | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

THE JUDGES of the Philippine Culinary Cup enjoying our “lechon”
THE JUDGES of the Philippine Culinary Cup enjoying our “lechon”
THE JUDGES of the Philippine Culinary Cup enjoying our “lechon”


I had lots of fun in last week’s World Food Expo as one of the speakers of Wofex University on “The Different Faces of Philippine Cuisine—Preserving Traditions and Creating Trends.”


I was tasked to discuss a traditional dish of my choice, while chef Pauline Benedicto was assigned to modernize it.


I spoke on the many ways lechon is roasted in the Philippines, and demonstrated one way of cooking it traditionally. Pauline, who hails from Davao, cooked a rolled liempo.


Hopefully, you will dare venture into roasting your own lechon. Whole or rolled, it’s something you will enjoy.


My Lechon with Liver Sauce


1 – 5.5 kg suckling pig


1/3 c sea salt – for rubbing inside the pig and the skin


250-350 grams young banana leaves, chopped


Young sampaloc leaves enough to fill the cavity


¼ c roasted peppercorns, lightly crushed


1 T vegetable oil


Wash the pig. Clean cavity by pouring hot water into it. Pat the pig dry. Rub cavity with salt.


Stuff cavity with leaves and peppercorns. Secure cavity by sewing or with a skewer.


Rub salt on the skin. Put pig on a rack over a baking tray. Oil the ears and the tail and wrap with foil.


Leave to marinate 2-3 hours.


Roast in preheated 350ºF oven for 1½ – 2 hours.


Increase heat to 375ºF and roast until skin is golden brown and crispy.




¼  c vegetable oil

2 slices ginger

2 c chopped white onions

¼ kg pig’s liver, (grill over fire if stronger liver flavor is desired)

½  kg chicken liver

1/3 c rice wine

¼ c vinegar

½ c brown sugar

¼ c soy sauce

1 T whole peppercorn

3 c pork stock

¼ c white sugar or to taste


Heat oil and sauté ginger and onions until caramelized. Add livers and wine. Cook until wine is reduced.


Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer 20-30 minutes.


Puree in a blender.


Continue to simmer until desired consistency is achieved and sauce has a nice sheen.


Season to taste.


Every third week of August, Davao celebrates the Kadayawan Festival in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. The abundance of fruits and seafood  is the inspiration for Pauline’s Rolled Pork Belly with Kinilaw and Burong Mangga.


Rolled Pork Belly


2.5 kg pork belly, boneless


500 ml fresh coconut water


Brining liquid


1 L water


60 g salt; rock


30 g white sugar


2 bayleaf; whole


50 g peppercorn; whole




2 lemon grass stalk; bruised


2 spring onion stalk; halved lengthwise


1 large onion; quartered


3 garlic; whole, crushed


pepper; ground


60 g rock salt


1 L white vinegar


Salt for rub




2 lemon grass stalk; bruised


2 spring onion stalk; halved lengthwise


2 garlic; whole; crushed


3-4 bird’s eye chili; red; halved lengthwise


4 spring onions stalk; halved lengthwise


1 large onion, cut into strips




Dissolve salt, white sugar in 500 ml of water over low heat. Add to remaining water. Cool.


Put pork belly, meat side down on a baking tray and add brining liquid. Do not brine the skin.


Refrigerate for 24 hours.




Rinse pork in water. Season belly with salt and pepper.


Put lemon grass, spring onion, onion garlic in a large baking dish. Pour vinegar.


Put belly over aromatics; do not let vinegar touch the skin.


Rub salt on the skin. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 3-4 hours.


Pre-heat oven at 180ºC.


Roll pork belly with lemon grass, garlic, chili, onion and spring onions. Tie with a twine or sew to hold its shape.


Pour boiling coconut water over the skin. Let stand for 5 minutes.


Put pork belly on a wire on a roasting pan. Bake 2.5 hours until meat is tender. Increase temperature to 200ºC and roast until skin is golden and crisp.


Mangosteen and Malagos Wine Sauce


160 ml Malagos dessert wine


200 g mangosteen pulp


75 ml calamansi juice


80 g muscovado sugar


345 ml water


Pour the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add mangosteen pulp, calamansi juice, muscovado sugar, water. Reduce to thicken the mixture.


Transfer to a blender and puree the mixture. Simmer until desired consistency is achieved.


Season and serve with pork.


‘Burong mangga’


3 medium green mangoes; peeled and slivered


225 g white sugar


5 g rock salt


5 g garlic; minced


30 ml sinamak


Mix white sugar, salt, garlic and sinamak. Pour over mangoes.


Mix and refrigerate for 3 days before serving.


Kinilaw na Malasugi at Imbao


150 g malasugi; large dice


4 pcs imbao; whole, cleaned, blanched


15 ml calamansi juice


20 ml sinamak


1 tsp salt; rock


15 g  red onion; julienne


15 g burong mangga; julienne


10 g ginger; minced


15 g red bell pepper; minced


10 g bird’s eye chili; green and red; chopped


30 g pomelo pulp


For garnish:


Spring and red onions; slice.


Toss imbao in calamansi and sinamak. Season.


In a nonreactive bowl, toss calamansi juice and sinamak vinegar until it turns white.


Add the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste. Garnish.

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