The Simple Pleasures of Lechong Kawali

Lechong kawali. Essentially, this is a rather simple dish involving a slab of pork belly deep-fried till the skin is crackling crisp and the meat deliciously tender. It’s one of those dishes that would make even the most hard-core dieters give up the ghost and give in to pure, glorious gluttony.

This most sinful of comfort foods can be prepared a number of ways. In some places, the pork is simply marinated with salt and pepper and fried directly. In other places, and particularly over at our house, the pork is first poached in water with rock salt, a bay leaf, and whole peppercorns till tender. Afterwards, the tenderized pork belly is immersed whole in a pot of bubbling oil. The pot is covered and left alone till the pork is crisp-fried to perfection.

Lechong kawali is almost always served with sarsa ng lechon (a sweetish liver sauce. If you’re particularly masochistic, you can make it from scratch. However, you can spare yourself the pain as the Mang Tomas brand available in most supermarkets does a dandy job) and achara (sweet pickled green papaya). It is, to me, a magnificent dining experience, what with the silkiness of the tender meat and the salty crunch of the crackling skin.