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Lechón is the Spanish word for suckling pig and in the Philippines, it connotes a whole roasted pig or “ litsong baboy,” in the local language. The process of cooking the lechón involves the whole pig or piglet that has been impaled in a bamboo branch and being slowly roasted over charcoal. The roasted pig is often cooked during national festivities or fiestas, the holiday season, birthdays, weddings, baptisms, family reunions, and other special occasions.
The typical method of roasting lechon involves placing the pig on a spit and roasting it over charcoals while wiping the skin with a brush made out of leaves drenched in water and the pig’s own fat. This makes the skin to become tender, crispy and crunchy that further adds to the delectable taste of the dish.
The lechon is usually served with a liver-based sauce. But in some cases, it may be served Chinese style with steamed buns and a sweet plum sauce. In addition, the left-overs from lechón is easily recycled into another delicious dish called “litson paksiw”. It involves cooking the left-over lechón by boiling it in vinegar to make the meat moist and the skin very soft. Some of the provinces in the Philippines have their own way of cooking and preparing their own version of the lechon. One of these versions is the Lechon Cebu from the province of Cebu.
The popularity of Lechon Cebu has made it one of the best tasting versions of lechon in the Philippines. The uniqueness of the lechon from Cebu comes from the stuffing for the lechon and the sauce dip used for it.
The Lechon Cebu is stuffed with lemongrass, a local variety of banana known as “saba,” or taro plant, green onions, sliced onions, whole cloves of garlic, cracked black pepper, lots of salt, and some other condiments. That stuffing gives the Cebuano lechon its unique crispy and sweet taste that is loved by people from Filipinos and even foreigners.
The sauce used as a dip for the lechon usually consists of ketchup, or a fish paste known as “bagoong,” that is served together with kalamansi. The two most popular lechon suppliers in Cebu City are CnT Lechon House and Alejo’s Lechon, but there are also some suppliers from nearby Carcar and Talisay that offer equally delicious and tasty lechon.