What Is A Lechon Baboy In Cebu?
A lechon baboy is the dialect term for the roasted pig in English. The word lechon originated from the Spanish term lechon or leche, which refers to a roasted suckling pig. The lechon baboy, commonly referred as lechon by the locals, is the national dish of the Philippines, and is the most popular food and considered as the best Philippine cuisine among the islands.
Most people prepare and never missed to offer the lechon baboy, especially during special occasions. It is actually prepared throughout the year for picnics or even everyday meals. The best day to eat hot lechon baboy is on Sunday. You can see the locals selling the roasted pigs on the street. For special occasions, it is usually served in whole with an apple on its mouth and of course, as the main menu, especially during birthdays, weddings, and fiestas. For everyday meals, it is usually served in ¼ kilo, ½ kilo, and 1 kilo, served on small plates.
The price of a kilo of lechon is usually about P520 to $600 pesos. This is the price of the originally prepared lechon baboy. Expect you are going to get some big pig bones. Yes, big bones are included in the per kilo and you cannot complain about that. This means that when it is being weighed, the bones of the sliced part are already included.
If you don’t like big pig bones included in your per kilo meal, you can opt and buy the emerging boneless regular or spicy lechon, where the method of cooking is totally different from the traditional lechon baboy. It is called the boneless lechon belly. You can buy it for a difference of P50 higher than the regular price. The crispiness of its skin is almost the same as the crispiness of the skin of the traditional pig.
How they prepare the lechon baboy (original)
A whole 2 week or 6 week old suckling pig is slaughtered and roasted. The selection of the suckling pig is made primarily because of its tender meat, which usually becomes very crispy and juicy after roasting. Herbals and mixtures of spices are placed inside the mouth and the stomach of the pig. The rest are being smeared throughout the body as it is being turned and roasted over the charcoal.
- 1 whole native pig about 18 to 20 kilos
- Black pepper
- 1 liter of sprite
- 10 bundles lemon grass or tanglad
- ¼ cup star anise
- 6 pieces laurel or bay leaves cut into small parts
- 5 cups of crushed garlic
- 2 kilos green onion leaves
- 8 pieces of saba bananas, half cooked and cut into halves
Remove the hair follicles and innards of the pig. Rinse the pig well. Rub with salt and pepper, inside the stomach and mouth, and all over the body. Rub a little soy sauce inside the stomach.
Stuff the body of the pig with the saba bananas, anise, green onion leaves, crushed garlic, and laurel leaves. Stack the lemon grass in the middle of the stomach. The spices and the lemon grass create the flavor and gives it an aromatic smell. Stitch the belly.
Skewer the whole pig with a mid-size bamboo. Put over hot charcoal. Make sure the charcoal has been spread evenly on both sides and not directly underneath the pig. While slowly turning the pig, glaze it with sprite using a sponge as this will help make the skin extra crispy. Roast until the meat is tender. Do not overcook.
The Chinese and the Romans developed the recipe for the suckling pig. The Filipinos actually first inherited the technique of cooking suckling pigs from their Chinese trading partners. The Spanish changed the name to leche or lechon, which refers to the age of the pigs being harvested and cooked over low coal fire during the colonial times.
The Spaniards imported the method back to Europe and other Spanish colonies such as the Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil, and Mexico.
The lechon baboy in Cebu has been and is still is being recognized as the Philippine finest lechon. It is so popular that even the airlines gradually accepted and listed these whole roasted pigs as a regular air transport commodity.
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