Posted in Restaurant Hopping, The Flavors of Asia, The Pinoy Food Route

In Which One Finds a Missing Link Between Roast Pork and Bacon…

Some of the best fire-roasted pork belly I've had in ages...
Some of the best fire-roasted pork belly I’ve had in ages…

Bagnet, the northern spin on the dish known here in the lowlands as lechong kawali (a whole slab of pork belly poached with salt, bay leaf, and black peppercorns before being deep-fried till exquisitely crunchy), is seen as “evil incarnate” by the veggie community but is seen in an almost angelic, even sacred light by all the rest of us.  What’s not to like about it: while you obviously can’t have it every day because of both caloric and cholesterol-related concerns, I’ve yet to see anyone who hasn’t enjoyed the tender, flavorful meat and the gorgeously crunchy, slightly salty crackling that tops it all.

I am of the opinion that bagnet ranks smack in the middle between sticky roasted pork belly made magnificent with honey and hoisin sauce and the fatty, smoky, saline glory that is belly bacon.  I was pretty much thinking that I was probably wrong about that until I encountered the bagnet from a new stall over at the Galleon Food Avenue: Firebrick.

Firebrick is a wee stall that specializes in the good stuff: proper, porky bagnet with the perfect ratio of meat, fat, and crackling.  But the kicker here is that it isn’t deep fried.  As the name suggests, it’s actually roasted till the rind crisps up, the fat melts, and the meat steams to a wonted tenderness.  As a result, the flavor is more smoky than salty with the sort of resonance you get from artisanal bacon as opposed to the over-salted rashers you sometimes get from your neighborhood supermarket.  This is 21st Century bagnet: it has all the crisp-tenderness of the Ilocano original, but the flavors and aroma are swankier, more bespoke, grown-up.

It’s also quite reasonably priced: P 80.00 gets you a bag of chopped-up pork you can share with a friend, while P 85.00 gets you the lunchbox shown above with a generous portion of bagnet, rice, classic sweet liver sauce, and tangy achara (pickled green papaya, carrots, and ginger) to offset the richness of the pork.



Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended in June 2016 These days, she works full time at Philippine Tatler as a features writer under the nom de guerre Marga Manlapig. Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel. Follow her on Instagram at @midgekmanlapig.

2 thoughts on “In Which One Finds a Missing Link Between Roast Pork and Bacon…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s