You may have heard of lechon in other parts of Asia, but lechon baboy in the Philippines is a Filipino classic that you can’t miss. lechon baboy (roast pork), or as the locals call it, “litson baboy” (pig roast), is a popular dish in the Philippines. It’s usually prepared by marinating and roasting whole pig cooking over a charcoal fire until crispy and golden brown on all sides, then marinading the skin with soy sauce to balance out its flavours.
Filipino love baboy lechon because it reminds them of their childhood—when they used to go around town fiesta looking for some delicious roasted pork to eat with rice wrapped inside coconut palm leaves while enjoying the company of their loved ones. Litson baboy is a tasty dish that has become part and parcel of the Filipino culture, making it one of these intriguing dishes with so many memories attached to it.
What is Lechon Baboy?
Baboy lechon is a traditional Filipino dish that is pig roasted whole and served with lechon sauce. It is usually cooked for special occasions such as fiestas, weddings and birthdays. In addition, it is often served as a buffet. It is also a popular dish in Filipino restaurants.
The word “baboy” means “pig,” which is what lechon baboy is roasted whole. Likewise, the term “lechon” means “roasted.”
Baboy lechon is often served with lechon sauce, which is Filipino pork barbecue sauce. The most common type of lechon sauce used on a baboy lechon is “sarsa,” which translates to “garlic.” In addition, some spices are good to pair with litson, like the soy sauce and vinegar with calamansi juice or lime juice, as well as the famous sauce called pinakurat.
It can be prepared using native Filipino ingredients or adding in other flavours that suit the taste buds.
The History of Lechon Baboy
Litson Baboy is a classic Filipino dish. It has been around for centuries, and it originated in the Philippines. The country where Lechon baboy originates from, also called “lechón”, means pig or pork meat. Spaniards introduced live pigs to the Philippines during their colonization of our islands; they attempted cooking pork when they were in Spain. So when the Philippines became independent from Spanish rule, Litson Baboy was already a staple dish of Filipino cuisine.
The earliest mention of “lechón” is in a 1582 diary entry by Miguel de Loarca, the Spanish explorer and scholar. He wrote about the lechones he had seen on his first voyage to Manila: “There are no pigs except those which come from other islands; they eat them all.” (de Loarca, 1582)
The Filipinos were not so much interested in their version of the pig. They did have pigs, but they ate them sparingly because there was no market for pork. Pigs’ meat had to be preserved with salt or smoked and then sold at a high price on other islands. Some people believed that it would offend the Archbishop of Manila to eat pork. (de Loarca, 1582)
In the 16th century, Filipinos did not eat pork. They allowed it to be eaten by certain people, such as Spaniards and Chinese. The Spanish could buy pigs at low prices in Manila from local suppliers who had bought them cheaply on a neighbouring island where they fattened up the animals for sale. The Chinese were able to purchase pigs from their suppliers in the Fujian and Guangdong provinces, where they were introduced by way of trade or domestic breeding. (de Loarca, 1582)
The Spaniards who came with Miguel Lopez de Legaspi on his expedition in 1565 brought some animals from Spain such as hogs, cattle and sheep. However, the Spaniards did not find the pigs to their liking; they called them “pig of Luzon” (Puerco de Luson) because it was found only in this area at that time.
There are other theories about how Lechon Baboy came into existence, but the most popular idea is that a Chinese immigrant or trader created it.
In a small village in the province of Pampanga, there lived some Chinese immigrants. These people were not able to cook their favourite dish because they had no pork or lard. So they decided to use baboy (pig) instead of lechon and called it native lechon baboy and litson baboy. The rest is history.
What makes Lechon Baboy or Roast Pig Special?
Baboy lechon is a special dish to Cebu, but it can also be found in other places. It has been popular for centuries, and now you don’t need any excuse to have litson at your party or event because it’s easy to find in most restaurants, bars and diners all over the Philippines.
What makes native lechon baboy special is that it has its unique flavour. It’s not just pork because of the cooking process and marinade used in making this Filipino food recipe. The skin is crispy and golden brown from being roasted over an open flame for hours on end. There are some versions where you can also see hints of evaporated milk, vinegar or soy sauce-based sauces like barbecue or adobo-style recipes to add a little more punch to your taste buds!
Litson baboy is known for being one of the best celebrations grander party food, and when you eat it hot off the grill, you might as well get ready to have your mouth water with every bite. But what makes baboy lechon special is that even if it’s been cold from sitting out in a buffet line or on a table waiting to be served, there’s no worry because it tastes just as good! The skin becomes soft instead of crispy but still has some taste left behind from all those spices mixed into each layer.
If you’re planning an event anytime soon, make sure this dish ranks high on your guest list! It’ll surely keep them coming back for more – guaranteed!
How to make the Best Baboy Lechon?
The secret to making the best roast pig is in how you prepare it. It’s about sweat, fat and salt – all of them mixed seamlessly.
The primary key to this delicious litson is all about the entire pig. Filipino use the native pig as this is the best pig for lechon.
The meat should be soft, juicy and tender.
You would find this dish in most Filipino celebrations like birthdays, drinking parties, Christmas Noche Buena or New Year’s Eve parties. However, Lechon baboy, also known as Litson Baboy, is more than just good food. It’s also a cultural tradition, which makes it even better!
Let’s get started with how to make this delicious, perfect lechon!
In preparing lechon, first off, we need to talk about the whole pig. Filipino use native pigs as they are best for roasting native lechon baboy. The meat should be soft and juicy enough for people who will eat it – but not too much fat so that there will be no more crunchy skin left on top of the pork, which can happen if too much oil was used when frying it up! Pork also needs lots of salt because, remember what I mentioned before? Without salt, your food will be bland, and that’s not what we want here.
What do you need for the recipe lechon?
Different herbs like lemon grass, chopped onion, black, garlic (or fresh minced), spring onions, red chile flakes if you like your food spicy, bay leaves (dried or fresh), boiling water, sugar, salt and pepper.
The first thing you need to do is prepare the pork by applying salt and pepper evenly on top of it. Next, mix all your seasoning ingredients in a bowl (which I mentioned before), and then put all the stuffing inside the pig’s belly, and mix thoroughly until the marinade is absorbed into the meat.
Now we can cook up this delicious litson! Start by heating the wood charcoal until the fire’s at its hottest, and when the coal is ready, put them on a wire rack or bamboo pole. Next, put in your pig and wait for it to be cooked.
The cooking time varies depending on the size of your pig. Smaller pigs can be cooked up in three hours, but larger ones might take a few hours longer to cook. Make sure you’re checking it with your meat thermometer now and then so that you know when it’s ready to eat!
What makes Lechon Baboy Skin Crispy?
What makes the crispy skin of Litson baboy skin red is because it has been cooked at a low temperature for hours. It’s also important to note that baboy lechon is cook or roasted over hot charcoal, which produces high heat and leaves the meat juicy inside but charred outside. In addition, the cooking process makes sure there is no fat under the skin, which would make the skin oily.
The high temperature of the fire bakes and crisps the meat while leaving its marinade intact – preserving all those flavours inside.
We’re not sure if it has something to do with the marinade mix or just the long hours of cooking, but in any case, we know what gives our lechon baboy crispiness: time and patience.
What is the Best Part of Litson Baboy?
The best part of the lechon baboy is not its skin. But the ribs which is the perfect combination of salty and savoury. The meat falls right off the bone and has a distinctive flavour, making it even more flavorful.
The skin is also just as savoury, and it has a thickness to it that makes the skin almost seem buttery. The meat from the litson baboy falls off of this thin, crispy skin in perfect pieces.
So what’s your favourite part? It depends on how you like your litson cooked!
If you want something juicy with a fantastic texture, go for the rib meat or feel more adventurous than try some pork belly with all its delicious fat dripping down the side.
The best part of the lechon baboy is that there are many different parts to try out and enjoy!
Where to get the Best Tasting Lechon Baboy in the Philippines?
Cebu is known for its native lechon baboy. It has a unique taste that is unlike any other litson baboy in the Philippines. The flavour is a combination of the marinade used to prepare it and also because it’s roasted over hot coals. Native lechon baboy from Cebu has been winning awards for years now because of its distinct taste and flavour, and it is known worldwide.
Baboy lechon from Manila is a little tamer and not as flavourful due to it being cooked in an oven. The marinade used for litson baboy can be different depending on where you buy it, but the key ingredient will always be vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and salt.
In Baguio City, they roast their native lechon baboy over a wood fire which gives its meat that smoky taste so many people love about this dish. The best thing about eating Lechón Baboy here is at the end of your meal when they serve fried rice made with pork fat drizzled with soy sauce and chicken broth! Oishiiiii~
Lechón Baboy in Iloilo is also cooked, but this one is not roasted over an open fire like most other places. Instead, its meat marinates overnight for about six hours to absorb all that flavour before it’s fried until browned and crunchy – just how we Filipinos love our pork! After cooking, they add their signature condiment called Inasal Sauce (made of fermented sugarcane), giving its skin a little more sweetness than usual.
Ilocos Norte has been known as the “Pork Capital” because you can cook your baboy lechon there in so many different ways. For example, you could have it boiled, baked or fried in banana leaves – to name a few!
Las Piñas City has two variants of their own Lechón Baboy. The first variation is roasted over an open fire, and the other one is made with a soy sauce marinade which makes it crispy on the outside but tender meat on the inside (similar to roast pork). It’s also usually served with Filipino garlic rice (called sinangag) and sunny side up egg for those who like eggs – this dish is called “pulutan”.
What better way to end your meal than by having some cold beers while you watch people play billiards or bet on cockfights?
Native lechon Baboy from La Loma, Quezon City, also became an instant hit because of its unique taste – they put it into a deep fryer and finish it off with some vinegar before serving! It might not be as crispy as other lechons but trust me when I say you’ll love how tender the meat is!
In Butuan City, litson baboy has that classic flavour roasting over an open fire, making its skin crunchy and delicious while keeping its meat moist. It doesn’t take long before you can imagine how good this tastes because of all those excellent aromas coming from the grill. I would recommend getting some fresh oysters as well when you visit Butuan, so your meal will be extra fulfilling!
In Iligan City, the baboy lechon is usually baked in an oven, giving it a more uniformed, soft meat texture. On the other hand, the skin can get too crunchy and hard to chew if not well cooked, so always make sure you ask for your preference when buying one here!
In Bacolod City, the variation of baboy lechon is soaked overnight in vinegar before cooking. The taste might be different than what most people are used to but trust me – this dish will give you that sour flavour that leaves your mouth wanting more!
I’m going with Cebu because it has the best tasting baboy lechon out there. It doesn’t matter where I am or how much time passes by – my taste buds always crave that delicious, savoury flavour of Cebu’s Lechón Baboy.
What other dishes that are similar to Lechon Baboy, and where you can find them in the Philippines?
Pork Belly Lechon, or litson belly, is a dish of roasted pork belly lechon marinated in vinegar, bay leaves, salt, crushed garlic, lemon grass, black pepper and sugar.
Pork Belly Lechon originated from the Ilocos Region (Ilocanos are natives of Northern Luzon), but you can also find it all over the Philippines today. There are many variations on this recipe because Filipinos like to experiment with different flavours, so if you want something similar that tastes utterly new to what you’ve tried before, I recommend trying out lechon belly.
Lechon liempo is another delicious dish similar to baboy lechon. It’s made by marinating pig parts in vinegar and spices for hours.
The Filipino version of the turducken- Litson lechon – can also be found at many street vendors around Manila.
Lastly, you may want to try out a dish called “Lechon Manok“, which is roasted chicken with its head on (similar to what I mentioned before) but instead uses chicken meat instead of pork; Serve immediately as this usually goes well with rice or your favourite vegetables.
There are so many more dishes like these all over the Philippines!
How much is Lechon Baboy in the Philippines?
The Cebuano lechon baboy can be found in the local wet markets on demand to be roasted as needed for public consumption. A serving size ranges from 400 pesos or $12 depending on how big you want your litson baboy to be.” The dish is typically eaten by adding it over white rice while having some “atchara” – unripe papaya mixed with salt, pepper, bay leaves and garlic cloves – as a condiment next to it. There are also variants of this dish, including cooking the pork belly lechon first before roasting the pig whole, resulting in less fat.
What is the Difference between Roasted Suckling Pig and Litson Pork Belly Lechon?
Suckling pig is roasted whole, while Pork Belly lechon can be a popular Filipino dish at local markets. When you cook the suckling pig, its skin becomes crisp because of how much fat it has on its skin.
However, the taste of the pork belly lechon is more tender with less fat than the roast suckling Pig but still has that sweet flavour from being cooked in garlic and vinegar marinade for hours before grilling to perfection over an open flame.
If you’re a sucker for crispy, salty skin and succulent meat that falls off the bone at the slightest touch of your chopsticks, head to Cebu, Philippines. But don’t just visit once – it’s one thing to come across something so best in this world, but it’s another way to be able to enjoy them over and over again. So go ahead and make plans now because if there is any food worth waiting an eternity for, Lechon Baboy is it!
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