|Place of origin||Spain and former colonies|
|Main ingredients||Suckling Pig|
|Variations||Stuffing of lemongrass, onion, garlic (for Visayan variant)|
Lechón in Spanish is a pork dish in several regions of the world, most specifically in Spain and its former colonial possessions throughout the world. Lechón is a Spanish word referring to a roasted suckling pig. Lechón is a popular food in the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, North Sulawesi province of Indonesia, other Spanish-speaking nations in Latin America, and Spain. The dish features a whole roasted pig cooked over charcoal. Additionally, it is popular in the Philippines with Cebu being asserted by American chef Anthony Bourdain as having the best pig.
Variants by country
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In most regions of the Philippines, lechón (also spelled litson or lichon) is prepared throughout the year for special occasions, festivals, and the holidays. Although it acquired the Spanish name, Philippine lechón has pre-Hispanic origins as pigs are one of the native domesticated animals of all Austronesian cultures and were carried throughout the Austronesian Expansion all the way to Polynesia. There are two major types of preparing lechon the Philippines, the "Manila lechon" (or "Luzon lechon"), and the "Cebu lechon" (or "Visayas lechon").
Visayan lechon is prepared stuffed with herbs which usually include scallions, bay leaves, black peppercorn, garlic, salt, and distinctively tanglad (lemongrass) and/or leaves from native Citrus trees or tamarind trees, among other spices. A variant among Hiligaynon people also stuffs the pig with the sour fruits of batuan or binukaw (Garcinia binucao). It is usually cooked over charcoal made from coconut husks. Since it is already flavored with spices, it is served with minimal dipping sauces, like salt and vinegar or silimansi (soy sauce, calamansi, and labuyo chili).
Luzon lechon on the other hand, is typically not stuffed with herbs. When it is, it is usually just salt and pepper. Instead, the distinctiveness of Manila lechon comes from the liver-based sauce, known as the "lechon sauce". Lechon sauce is made from vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, mashed liver (or liver spread), breadcrumbs, garlic and onion. Manila lechon is also typically cooked over woodfire.
Most lechon can either be cooked based on the two main versions, or mix techniques from both. Both variants also rub salt or spices unto the skin to make it crispier, as well as continually baste the lechon as it cooks. Sometimes carbonated drinks may also be used. They are cooked on a bamboo spit over charcoal for a few hours with constant (traditionally manual) turning. The pig is roasted on all sides for several hours until done. The process of cooking and basting usually results in making the pork skin crisp and is a distinctive feature of the dish.
Leftover parts from the lechon, such as the head and feet, are usually cooked into another popular dish, lechon paksiw. Like lechon itself, lechon paksiw also differs based on whether it is prepared Luzon-style or Visayas-style, with the former using liver sauce as an essential ingredient, while the latter does not. In some cases, these parts or stale lechon can be repurposed into another dish, such as Sisig.
- Jonathan Deutsch; Megan J. Elias (15 April 2014). Barbecue: A Global History. Reaktion Books. p. 90. ISBN 978-1-78023-298-0.
- Vicky B. Bartlet (17 December 2011). "Palmonas: Make 'buko' juice as national drink". Business Mirror. Archived from the original on 10 January 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
In his House Resolution 1887, Agham (Science) Party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones said the Philippines has already a number of national symbols, such as narra as national tree, sampaguita as national flower, mango as national fruit, milkfish as national fish and lechon (roast pig) as national dish.
- Lara Day (23 April 2009). "Pork Art". Time. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
Anthony Bourdain — whose love of all things porcine is famous — visited the Philippine island of Cebu with his show No Reservations and declared that he had found the best pig ever
- Palanca, Clinton. "This is the Philippines' love story with pork". Smile Magazine. Cebu Pacific. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- Faicol, Bea. "What's the Difference Between Luzon Lechon and Visayas Lechon?". Eat + Drink. Spot.ph. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
- Manahan, Millie (13 July 2017). "Manila or Cebu Lechon: A Staple Filipino Food for all Occasions". When In Manila. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
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- Chan, Bernice. "The secrets to great lechon - whole roasted suckling pig that's virtually a Filipino national dish". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
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- Reynaldo G. Alejandro (8 December 2015). Food of the Philippines. Tuttle Publishing. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-4629-0545-4.
Customs and Culture of the Philippines. Tuttle Publishing. 15 June 1963. pp. 112–113. ISBN 978-1-4629-1302-2.
- "The Lechon In Our Culture". EditorialToday A Guide to Business.
- "Lechon Paksiw (Bisaya Style)". Chedz Culinary Club. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
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