Lechon Kawali is a popular Filipino dish made with pork belly simmered until tender and then deep-fried until golden and crisp. With crunchy skin and super moist meat, every morsel is pork heaven!
Call me cray cray. After discovering the crispiest rind and the moistest meat on a lechon sa hurno, you’d think I’d never cook lechon in a kawali again. I mean, really. Who in her right mind would tackle hot oil splattering all over the place when she could have a slab of pork belly crisping nice and quiet in the oven?
In my defense, it was awfully hot this weekend and I didn’t want the oven on all day long to cook one lone piece of pork. Besides, before the advent of lechon sa hurno in my life, I’ve been praised by my adoring fans (AKA daughter and ex-husband) for the meanest, best-est lechon kawali ever.
My ex-sister-in-law had a thriving business for many years selling crispy pata, lechon kawali and relyenong bangus in their hometown and fortunately, she was able to pass along tricks of her trade before her loser of a brother (I couldn’t help taking a jab, haha #bitterwoman) and I finally divorced and parted ways.
See that blistered skin above? Boy, that golden piece of pork belly dream is a work of courage. You see, to achieve that coveted crackling, you need to continuously sprinkle cold water into the sizzling hot oil while the meat is frying. Definitely not for the faint of heart!
My friends, lechon kawali is not an easy feat and I implore you to practice caution. But believe you me, every sinful morsel of this delectable meat is worth the effort. Enjoy!
Here a few helpful tips to note:
- If you’re using bone-in pork belly, have the butcher partially cut through the bones so the pork will be easier to chop once fried.
- To keep the meat moist, boil the pork until slicing-tender but not falling apart to shreds. Remember, it will still continue to cook during the deep-frying.
- For the crispiest skin, allow to completely chill and air dry overnight in the refrigerator.
- Use enough oil to cover the pork belly during deep frying and watch your temperatures! Keep your oil at an optimal 350 F to 375 F. Fry in batches as necessary to keep the temperature from plummeting.
- 4 pounds whole pork belly
- 1 head garlic, pounded
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- oil for deep frying
- In a pot over medium heat, combine pork belly, garlic, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, skimming scum that floats on top. Lower heat, cover and continue to cook for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until meat is tender but not falling apart.
- Drain pork from liquid, discarding liquid. Wipe the pork dry, removing any stray aromatics. Place on a rack and refrigerate overnight to completely cool and dry.
- In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, heat enough oil to completely cover meat to about 350 F to 375 F. Carefully place meat into oil and fry until meat is golden and skin is crisp and puffed. While the meat is frying, regularly sprinkle about 1 tablespoon cold water onto the meat and hot oil every 5 minutes or so.
- Remove meat from pot and drain on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Let rest for about 5 minutes and then cut into serving pieces. Serve with lechon sauce or dip of choice.