Whole roasted pig, known in the Philippines as lechon, is one of the favorite dishes of Filipinos. During fiestas, birthdays, weddings, Christmas parties, or any other celebration, it is common to see this dish. It is, in fact, the highlight of most celebrations. There are even times when we crave lechon on ordinary days.
In Cagayan de Oro, which is known to be where some of the country’s best lechon are found, there is good news. The city’s first and currently only restaurant that offers eat-all-you-can lechon buffet (with other delicious Pinoy dishes)—the House of Native Lechon—is now open. Before you head off to enjoy their buffet, you may want to check out some tips on how you can best enjoy the lechon experience.
Most Flavorful Parts
Many people would agree that the most flavorful parts of a lechon are the skin, the ribs, and the belly. Here are the reasons most commonly given on why people love these three parts of a lechon:
- Skin – People love the crunchy goodness of lechon skin, and it helps that the layer of fat that typically clings to the skin adds to its flavor. The skin is especially good when the pig that is roasted is just a few months old (about four to six months) and has just a thin layer of fat. Sometimes there are even strips of meat that get roasted onto the skin, and these are very flavorful as well; these strips of meat make you enjoy lechon skin even more.
- Ribs – Among the things that make CDO lechon one of the best in the country (in the world, even) are the spices used by CDO lechoneros. These spices are typically stuffed inside the pig’s belly prior to cooking, which is why the rib area is one of the best parts of a lechon; it has soaked up all the flavors and is therefore mouthwateringly good. And nibbling the meat from the bone is also a fun experience!
- Belly – Just like the ribs, the lechon belly part right next to it is also full of delicious flavors, having soaked up the goodness of the spices stuffed into the pig prior to roasting. Plus, the fact that the belly is all meat and no bone makes it the best part of a lechon for those who do not care much for nibbling on bones. Yes, you’ll have to wait a while to get to that part, but it sure is worth the wait.
Lechon is enjoyable enough as it is, but there are ways for you to maximize your enjoyment of this all-time favorite Pinoy dish. Of course, each person has a different take on how one can best enjoy a serving of lechon, but where we are concerned, here are the best ways to optimize the lechon-eating experience:
- Eat with your bare hands. Yes, indeed. Kamayan is the way to go when you’re eating lechon. Sure, it will taste just as delicious when you eat it using utensils, but the experience of going kamayan when you’re eating lechon is unbeatable!
- Eat it with plain steamed rice. When there’s lechon, it definitely is NOT the time to go on a no-rice diet. There’s just something about the lechon-steamed rice combo that makes it oh-so-good. Try pairing lechon with any other food—fried rice, pasta, egg noodles—and you’ll be sure to agree that plain steamed rice is the way to go.
- If you’re one of those who love lechon skin, here’s a tip: Look for the parts with the bubbles; these are usually the crispiest parts. Its crispiness is one of the reasons why people love lechon skin, so it’s only logical for you to choose the crispiest part.
- If the layer of fat clinging to the skin is a bit thick, scrape it off. Yes, it adds to the skin’s flavorful goodness, but it can also cause umay (nausea), which destroys the whole lechon experience. Give yourself the chance to eat more of your favorite lechon skin by doing away with the excess fat.
- Get the ice-cold cola out. Yes, you can eat lechon with any other drink, cold or otherwise. But once you try it with ice-cold soda, you probably won’t want any other combo in the future. There are few things more satisfying than that burp you make after enjoying a lechon/steamed rice/ice-cold cola experience.
Are you ready for some lechon? We know we are. Let’s go!