Lechon Kawali 

This Filipino dish is deceptively simple, albeit a bit time consuming. But the results are well worth it. Basically , it’s deep fried pork belly, the part of the animal that bacon comes from. But the different preparation makes it quite unique. 


  • Piece of pork belly, 1-3 lbs, with skin
  • Oil for frying
  • Onion
  • Bay leaves 
  • Cane vinegar 
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Soy sauce


  1. Trim any excess fat from the meat. If it has the bones, they can stay for more flavor, but will be easier to work with if removed. 
  2. Traditionally, the meat is boiled for about 45 minutes with salt, an onion and bay leaves. I also add garlic and black peppercorns, maybe a dried red chili or two and some coriander and mustard seeds. The same basic mix I’d use for corned beef. Instead of salt, I also prefer soy sauce and Worcestershire, adds more flavour and nice colour. 
  3. Instead of boiling, which sucks out a lot of the meaty flavour into the broth, this time I tried pre cooking it sous vide. I slathered the meat with a mild ancho chilli rub, then sprinkled lightly with Worcestershire and soy sauce. Should have added a crushed clove of garlic and a bay leaf. I let it stew for about 4 hours at 165°F, but a couple more hours wouldn’t have hurt it. For a firmer texture lower the heat a bit, but not below 150°F. 
  4. After the boil, drain and air dry on a wire rack in fridge for at least a couple of hours, or overnight. 
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot to 350-375°. A cast iron skillet works, but it tends to splatter so an 8 quart pot with tall sides is safer and less messy. 
  6. Although it can be fried whole, I like to slice it into smaller pieces about 1″ thick to increase the amount of crispy surface area. Anything from 3/4″-2″ will work fine. Season the exposed surfaces lightly with salt. 
  7. Ideally the chunks will be deep fried, but if you don’t want to use a gallon of oil, make sure there is enough to cover at least halfway up the sides. Turn a couple of times to brown evenly on all sides, then remove to paper towels on a wire rack to drain.

Dipping Sauce

There is a traditional liver sauce that often accompanies this dish, but I prefer a simpler vinegar dipping sauce. The acidity balances the richness of the fried meat. 

Mix the following ingredients in a non-reactive bowl, and allow to sit for a bit to allow the flavors to meld and mellow. It will give you something to do while the oil heats up. 

  • 2-4 TB cane vinegar
  • 1-2 TB native vinegar (dark)
  • 1-2 TB soy sauce 
  • 1-2 clove garlic, crushed/minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Splash fish sauce (optional)


  1. The same technique can also be done with a hunk of corned beef for a pig-free version. Not quite as delightfully unctuous, but brings a whole new level of texture. 
  2. For extra crispy skin, some people sprinkle some water over it while fries. But this is obviously messy and potentially dangerous. I’ve also seen people dust the meat lightly with baking soda before frying, but haven’t tried it. If the oil is hot, the skin gets plenty crisp for my taste. 

After the sous vide and cooling, ready to slice and fry:

The low frying pan was a bad idea, lots of splatter:

Final product, about to be devoured:

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