Friday, October 7, 2011

Lechon Paksiw (Pork Roast stewed in Vinegar and Sugar)

Lechon is usually a whole pig roasted over live coals.  Piglets (lechonillo,) suckling pig (lechon de leche) or cattle calves (lechong baka) can also be prepared in place to the adult pig. It is typically served with lechon sauce - a mixture of pork liver, water, vinegar, sugar, bread crumbs and spices.  Lechon can be considered as the national fiesta food in the Philippines.

Paksiw is the generic name for stews made with vinegar.  Lechon Paksiw is a Filipino pork dish made from leftover roast pig or lechon.  Lechon kawali (chopped pieces of pork fried in a pan or wok) can also be used if lechon is not available.

In the Philippines, the most popular way of serving leftover lechon is to serve it as stew.  The meat is slow-cooked in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, bay leaves, sugar, salt and lechon sauce or liver sauce.  One can use home-made lechon sauce, commercial or bottled lechon sauce or liver spread diluted in broth. 

Personally, I prefer lechon paksiw over lechon because the flavors are more pronounced after the lechon has been stewed in vinegar.  It is actually one of my favorite Filipino dishes.  I learned cooking lechon paksiw from my paternal grandparents who are natives of Samar in Central Philippines.    They cook their lechon paksiw the traditional way.  They just mix all the ingredients together, bring to a boil, simmer and presto!  Lechon paksiw is ready to serve.  I got the habit of adding pineapple chunks to my lechon paksiw from my mom who learned doing so from her father who is a native of Laguna in Northern Philippines.

My husband and I recently bought some lechon from an Asian store in Orlando. He wanted it in his broccoli slaw and spinach salad for lunch. Actually, the salad tasted good with bits of lechon in it.  We had leftover lechon and so I made lechon paksiw.  I prefer my lechon paksiw with its sauce reduced.  I actually got the habit of doing so from my dad who almost always reduces every sauce that he makes.  At the same time, I want my lechon paksiw to be fruity so I add pineapple chunks to it.  So, here's my recipe:

  • 1 pound lechon (with skin), sliced 1-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (for marinating)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed  (for marinating)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed  (for sauteing)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (for stewing)
  • 1 cup lemon lime soda (or water)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorn
  • 4 pieces bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel (or 2 pieces of star anise)
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lechon sauce (or liver sauce)
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (optional)
  • salt to taste
  1. Mix vinegar and garlic in a non-reactive bowl.  Do not use aluminum.  Marinate the lechon in the mixture for 30 minutes.
  2. In a pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Saute garlic and onion.  Add the lechon with the marinade.  Add vinegar, water or lime soda, soy sauce and spices.  Simmer for 10 minutes without stirring.
  3. Stir in sugar, lechon sauce and pineapple chunks (optional.)  Season with salt. Cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.
Here's a recipe for making lechon sauce from scratch:

Lechon Sauce

  • 1/2 kg pork liver
  • 2 cups water or more
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup onions, minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup  bread crumbs (toasted and crumbled)
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup  brown sugar
  •  1 tsp ground black pepper
  •  salt to taste
  1. Broil the pork liver until half done.  Ground using a food processor. Add water and squeeze the extract through a cheesecloth. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.  Saute garlic, onions until golden brown.  Add the liver extract. Add powdered crumbs, vinegar, sugar and salt. 
  3. Simmer until thick.  Make sure the liver is thoroughly cooked. Add the ground pepper last.

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