Lechon: National Dish Of Philippines
Lechon is a famous pork dish that begins with a suckling pig that is roasted over charcoal. It originated in Spain and spread throughout all the areas where she had former colonial powers. The word lechon comes from the spanish word, lechón, which means suckling pig. Lechon is a favorite food in the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Hawaii (where it is called a Kalua pig), and Spanish Latin American countries. It is the national dish of The Philippines and Puerto Rico. Cebu is considered to have the best Lechon on the Islands of The Philippines. It is delicious! It is unique! It is Lechon!
Throughout these areas, Lechon is prepared during the year for special occasions where they roast a suckling pig over a bed of charcoal in a ditch that is covered by sticks , banana leaves ( can also use Ti leaves) and then earth. In Hawaii, the people roasts a Lechon whenever there is a Luau. In rural Hawaii a Lechon is roasted if you have a new baby, get married, graduate from school, get a new job, have an anniversary, etc. Any happy occasion is time for a Luau. A luau begins with lechon. In other areas this is called a fiesta or party. Anytime is fiesta time! Let’s celebrate!
The first thing you do is to prepare the Imu or the underground pit oven that is used in most of the Spanish World and Hawaii. The first thing to do is to build a large fire in the pit using about 1/8 cord of Hardwood to roast a Lechon. Next you build the imu where the lechon goes. The secret of the imu is in the rocks. Good volcanic rocks makes a good oven. Try to use the best volcanic and porous rocks that you can find. They do not explode and stay hot for hours. You separate the Imu from the fire pit with the rocks and then line the Imu with rocks and then with the banana leaves. The pig is then placed inside a cage that is usually made of chicken wire. It is then completely covered with the banana leaves and then banana sticks. then the earth is replaced to cover the pit completely. Now the wait begins!
Your Imu (Oven) is now ready to be fired up! 2 hours are needed to preheat the imu
plus 8-10 hours cooking time, total of 10-12 hours. Usually it is done the night before and served the next afternoon. After 10-12 hours your Lechon should be done. It is served with the crispy skin and the blood pudding. You can also get up very early and get your suckling pig ready for a late afternoon fiesta or Luau. This is fiesta time!
Where ever you may travel, Cebu is famous for the best Lechon in the Philippines. While in Cebu, be sure and try Lechon, the National Dish of The Philippines.