Lechón (Tagalog: Litson and Cebuano: Inasal) is the Spanish word for suckling pig. In the Philippines, it connotes a whole roasted pig, lechón baboy. Chicken and beef are also popular. The process of lechón involves the whole pig/piglet, chicken, or cattle/calf being slowly roasted over charcoal.
The pig had always been the center of communal feasts in pre-Hispanic Philippines, and "Lechon" is the normal manner it is prepared.
Undeniably, Cebu's Lechon is the best in the country. It is tasty as it is, there's no need for any savory dip to go with it. Ask for Mang Tomas (liver sauce) and Cebuano's will stare at you and laugh.
Cebu's lechon baboy is whole black native (free range) pig roasted over charcoal, skewed in bamboo, stuffed with herbs and spices like lemongrass locally known as "tanglad", salt (injected into the meat), pepper corn and more, then baste with either milk or soda or coconut water to keep the skin crispy.
I once saw how it is prepared, it's never a pleasant sight. Hot water is poured onto live pig to shed its hair and the rest is history. I've entered the roasting station of CNT Lechon, it is impressive to see several lines of mechanical rotisserie. That should make the cooking even, not to mention efficient.
We normally forewarn foreign guests, other nationalities especially from the west, find it barbaric to see a whole pig served on the table. But Chinese and Filipinos just love EVERY part of it, right? I feast on the belly and the skin, most on the ribs, some even rave about the tail, the tongue, the ears, the dinuguan (pork blood stew with internal organs), and the brain!
My previous post about Cebu drawn more than the usual readers, googling for information and contact numbers for Cebu's Lechon houses, there are hundreds of lechon houses in Cebu but these are the more popular ones:
NOTE: To contact via telephone, use COUNTRY CODE 063, AREA CODE 032
Sanson Road, Lahug # 2328899
- the original Cang's Lechon, with crispy skin and tender meat, the fat looks like it's trimmed off, it's very tender that the vertebra easily collapse.
Cary Cang's Lechon (Edna Cang)
Sanson Road, Lahug # 2358886; +639276441923
-(similar to Cang's Lechon, now operating independently) my family's personal favorite. Aside from the usual lechon, a whole chicken (add P150 each) or rice can be stuffed inside. Imagine chicken or rice that tastes exactly like lechon.
Labangon # 2618575
Gen. Maxilon Ave # 2332383
-famous for Lechon de Leche, a few days old piglet, so tender, they use plates to slice it. For dine-in, you can order whole or smaller portions.
Archbishop Reyes Ave # 2326146
V. Rama # 2544249; 2546641
Juan Luna Ext Ave # 2335339
(with outlets in selected malls)
-famous for their retail outlet that sells lechon per kilo*, they can pack them in a box ready for cargo. Also available in Las Vegas, USA:
1203 E Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, USA # 702-270-2500
Se Ben's Authentic Cebu Lechon
SaveMore Supermarket, Parkmall branch
Reclamation road, Cebu City
# 4129799; +639173266999; +63922-8236168; email@example.com
-promising new addition to the lechon industry
Talamban, (Enrico Dionson, owner) # 3440119
-rumored for being former President Erap's source of lechon
Zubuchon (as endorsed by Anthony Bourdain)
(Edrid or Beverly) # 2365264 (M-F 9am-4pm)
Sunday Market at Banilad Town Center, Sundays, 10am-1pm
- but frankly, it doesn't come close to Cebu's best lechon. You might just wanna try it simply because it was endorsed by travel channel Anthony Bourdain's blog.
- offers the convenience of online orders, recommended by a few bloggers who are non-Cebuanos. I haven't tried this, but the published rates are quite expensive.
Carcar Town Market- famous for having lechon juice, a seasoned clear (salty) soup.
Lorenzo's Lechon Baka
- specialize in roast beef/calf with sweet brown sauce. My birthday party isn't complete without them roasting a leg for my guests. :D They also serve roast turkey and goat.
The price of Lechon Baboy has increased about P300 for whole and P50/kg compared to last year. During peak season, price increase about P200-500 or they serve a smaller sized lechon. Peak season is from December, extending upto January (for Sinulog). Normal price range now should be:
P300 per kilo
P2800 good for 20-25 (whole)
P3200 good for 25-30 (whole)
Updated price for 2010:
P360 per kilo
P3500 good for 20-25 (whole) about 8-10 kilos
P4000 good for 25-30 (whole) about 10-12 kilos
Airport to airport airfreight from Cebu to Manila costs about P500, the seller usually charge additional P100 for packaging. Including freight, it is actually cheaper to buy from Cebu than in Manila.
*lechon sold per kilo tends to use bigger and older pigs, the meat may not be as tender and the skin is thicker which tends to be harder even crispy. So I still prefer to order in whole, the younger/smaller the better. Don't worry about left overs, stewed (paksiw) or sauteed, they are still worth the added cholesterol. :D Our household cook has a superb recipe, I'll try it out soon and post the receipe here.
Ever wondered how to keep the skin crispy?
- while it's steaming hot, keep it loosely covered. Don't keep it too long in the (car) trunk either. The steam tends to soften the skin.
- while waiting to be served in an airconditioned room or windy area, keep it covered.
- reheat leftover skin (if any!) in pressure cooker or toaster on high heat.
A celebration isn't complete without lechon, Christmas season ('Ber months) is coming up, I'm so eager to feast on more lechon again with hanging rice "puso" to match it.