Filipino Cooking – Lechon Or Roast Suckling Pig

If you have travelled to the Philippines and attended any of the local festivities, you may have encountered the very interesting and popular Philippine lechon.  It’s that whole piece of roasted pig that takes center stage in every major celebration or occasion in Philippine culture. pig roast nj

“Lechon” is a Spanish term meaning suckling pig.  The Philippines was under Spanish rule for over 300 years, so that’s probably how this popular dish got its name.  The best lechon is made from piglets aged between 4 weeks to 3 months old. The pig is roasted whole over an open coal pit after all the innards are removed, and the inner part is stuffed with a delicious blend of spices, salt, and herbs.  Lemon grass and tamarind leaves are used in most cases to give the dish its distinct aroma and flavour, and the cooking process takes anywhere between 3 to 5 hours, depending on the size of the pig.

All throughout these hours, the pig is constantly rotated over hot coal to cook the insides evenly.  The pig skin eventually turns into a delicious golden brown color, is usually the most contested portion of the dish once it is cooked.  Lechon skin in crackling crisp and slightly salty, much like the golden brown skin on roasted chicken,  but probably more mouth-watering.

The pork meat is quite tender and flavourful althroughout due to the intricate cooking process. The area around the ribs is the most delicious, since it picks up the flavour and aroma of all the herbs used during roasting. It is usually served with liver-based gravy, while others prefer to eat it as it is.

The Philippine lechon doesn’t come cheap. A regular sized piece costs between 3 to 4 thousand pesos, which is about half of what a minimum wage earner gets in a month. The more affluent families have it as a regular part of their celebrations. Members of the poorer communities still get to have it for their major feasts though, since most of them raise pigs in their backyards.


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