Food connoisseurs have sang praises to Davao lechon de leche. This dish has been shared by Filipino families for centuries, but it’s origin can be traced from the Spaniards who has definitely influenced a lot of our popular local cuisines. Although long before the s
“Leche” is a Spanish word for milk, and it perfectly refers to the suckling pig roasted to perfection over smoldering coals. Newly-weaned piglets are the preferred option to roast as these provide the best meat quality. While the heat slowly cooks the meaty flesh and burns the fat to a juicy goodness, the slow rotational motion evenly cooks the pork skin to a crisp.
The lechon has always graced the buffet tables in fiestas, weddings, baptisms, or any celebration. Guests always look forward to sampling the lechon de leche’s delicious morsels. It’s flavor infused meat is secondary to the crowd favorite- the crispy and slightly salty skin. I remember childhood
memories where my siblings fought over getting the biggest chunk of lechon skin, and our mother awarding this to the most behaved child. The funny thing is, I’m pretty sure we’re not the only family who shared memories related to the lechon. Any Filipino can definitely relate.
Someone once jokingly noted that you can tell where a person’s from byhow that person eats lechon. The people down south likes their lechon dipped in vinegar-garlic sauce, while those from the north prefer a thicker sauce or gravy. It’s true that we take our sauce seriously. In fact, a well-known Philippine company built its business around it.
There are different types of letchon. However the two main flavors are original and spicy. The types of letchon are based on it’s size. For instance, there’s the most sought after lechon de leche, lechon belly or boneless lechon, and the whole lechon baboy. Innovation brought about unique variations like feetchon, lechon chicharon, and pritchon.
The preparation and the way the lechon is cooked are considered an art form. Patience is required because it can never be prepared in haste. The desired flavor and even the crispiness of the lechon’s skin can only be achieved through time. The “lechonero” has to adjust the coals, rotate the hoisted pig while adjusting the speed of rotation depending on how the roasted pig already looks. To make this special dish into a succulent and crispy delicacy, detailed preparation and commendable efforts are made.
Before the herbs and spices are rubbed into the meat, the pig’s innards are removed to make room for the special stuffing. The most common ingredients are lemon grass (tanglad), leeks, pepper, and garlic. The piglet is then hoisted into a long bamboo rod, while for lechon belly rolls, the meat slab is rolled into a log and fastened into shape by tying it with baker’s twig. This is then either slowly roasted – rotisserie style or, in the case of lechon rolls, baked in an oven.
The slow cooking creates the succulent and juicy lechon. The spices and tanglad give it’s flavor. It’s skin is made crisp by basking the surface with a mixture of milk and water while it was being roasted. Others frequently rub oil onto the skin to make it more crispy once cooked. I’ve also come across a recipe where the skin is frequently glazed with Sprite using a sponge.
There is definitely more than one way to cook lechon de leche. Some Cebuanos claim that the secret is not cook it through coal but through flames or fire. Another blog suggested that the coals must not be placed directly under the lechon, but that it should be strategically placed in a row on both sides of the lechon.
Pricing ranges from 3000 pesos to as much as 9000 pesos for a whole lechon. This is one of the reasons why lechon de leche is becoming a more popular option for those who are a bit budget conscious. Depending on the size and weight of the roasted pig, the price is set but the consumers still consider it as having value for money. Recently, in some fast foods, the lechon can be ordered as a value meal.
This dish is definitely worthy of anyone’s attention, if not for it’s taste, but also for the effort one invests in making it. No wonder, in the Philippines, the lechon has earned a world-wide recognition. The Davao lechon de leche is catching a lot of the world connoisseurs’ attention, and it’s also gaining popularity in the local food scene.
t’s meets all the expectations in terms of taste, value for money, and availability. No doubt, the lechon de leche puts Davao in the map.
The good news is that this recipe as dynamic as it is will continue to evolve. It’s always going to capture the interest of people all over the world. And why not? It’s intriguing. Inviting. It’s amazing.
The Davao lechon de leche is something not only Dabawenyos should be proud of, but also any Filipino who has ever commented on social media sites about being proud to be Pinoy. It’s good to be known for our talents and unique characteristics. However, to be applauded for our ingenuity in our cuisines is something else. After all, although it’s true that food can define and differentiate culture, food also has the power to unite. The lechoneros of Davao are doing great in making this happen whether or not they’re aware of their sphere of influence. It’s inherent for Dabawenyos to be proud of tradition and culture. They’re completely grounded on the importance of doing one’s job well as the best contribution to society. One can understand why
Davao can easily claim having the best lechon de leche in the world.
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