Lechon Kawali is a popular all-time Filipino favorite dish cook with pork belly that is boiled and deep fried until golden and crispy. Biting into this crunchy mouthwatering Lechon Kawali is divine. It is undeniably delicious. You will forget that this chunk of meat is loaded with fat. It makes me salivate while writing this post and looking at the super crispy lechon kawali pictures. I love lechon (roasted whole pig) but when both lechon and lechon kawali are served I tend to gravitate and chow on the lechon kawali due to its crispiness. Don’t get me wrong I love them both. Serve me either or and you’ll find me quietly devouring these delicious lechons.
You don’t necessarily have to use pork belly if you are watching your diet. Substitute pork belly with less fatty meat like pork butt or pork shoulder. But the best cut of meat to use for Lechon Kawali is pork belly slab also known as “Liempo” in Tagalog. In our case, it is seldom that we make this dish and if we do we indulge and use pork belly and deep fried.
How to Prepare Pork Belly When Making this Crispy Lechon Kawali Recipe
Lechon Kawali requires minimal preparation. Boil pork belly with onion, garlic, peppercorn, bay leaves, garlic powder and salt until tender. Add ½ a cup of soy sauce if you desire but optional. These ingredients or spices will give the pork belly its savory flavor. Don’t overcook the meat. It should be tender but firm and not falling apart. Remove from pot, drain excess water and season with salt, ground pepper and garlic powder. Before frying, let it cool down and air dry for half a day or better yet place it overnight in the fridge.
Deep fry the pork belly slab as a whole if you prefer a juicier moist meat with crispy skin and cut into pieces after frying. The other way is to cut the pork belly into bite size pieces about an inch thick before frying. This will give you a crispier and crunchier meat on all sides and skin. Either way it is delicious so fry it depending on your liking.
Tip: Don’t overcrowd your deep fryer or pot. It will lower the oil’s temperature and the end result will be a not crispy or crunchy pork belly. Space pork belly to properly deep fry.
Why use a Deep Fryer when making Lechon Kawali?
I got tired frying on the stove top and not a big fan of cooking it in the oven. As I have said earlier, we seldom make lechon kawali but when we do, we like it fried. So for the purpose of frying I bought a deep fryer. I love my deep fryer. It is so much easier and less messy. No more playing hide and seek with the splattering oil. When frying on the stove top make sure you have your gear ready to avoid being hit by the hot smoldering oil that’s headed your way.
Before acquiring a deep fryer, I wear protective glasses, a huge lid to cover my face or myself and sometimes very long gloves. A splatter guard is a must. When frying do not cover the pan with its lid. You don’t want oil exploding on you.
The deep fryer will have many uses like frying fried chicken, crispy pata, lumpiang shanghai, turon, eggroll, fried daing and many more. In my opinion, it is one of the best investment I have added in my kitchen. When using the stove, I had so much cleaning to do after frying. Aside from cleaning the stove, I had to wipe the walls and floor to get rid of the splattered oil. So do yourself a favor – a deep fryer is not expensive get yourself one.
Here’s another convenience of the deep fryer, sometimes right after boiling the pork belly in water and drained I would immediately fry it. This happens when we seriously crave for this deliciousness. No time to wait another day. It can be done this way but you will hear the continuous loud splattering noise of the oil. It is covered, so you are safe. One thing I’ve noticed though, if meat was not air dried for a few hours the skin is not as crispy.
Why sprinkle a little bit of water while frying?
One thing my mom did when frying pork belly was sprinkled a little bit of water in the hot oil to promote crackling of the pork skin to make it crispy. This is the main reason why I never learned to make chicharon. She makes delicious crunchy chicharons but sprinkling water in hot oil is not for me. I skipped this step and I am not brave enough to do this. I’m not sure what will happen if I tried to do this with a deep fryer. So it’s up to you if you want to try this step.
Another tip when lazy and craving for Lechon Kawali
When I am lazy and craving for lechon kawali I go to the Mexican store in my area that caters cooked Mexican food. One of their specialty is the Chicharones which closely resemble Bagnet which is the equivalent of the Ilocano Lechon Kawali. It is way crispier than lechon kawali but is also very good. Chicharones doesn’t come with a dip so bring your favorite dip or side like atchara, Mang Tomas (sweet liver sauce) or spicy garlic vinegar.
It is 2 am in the morning and getting hungry while processing the pictures in Photoshop. I showed it to my mom before she went to bed and she thought we will have it the following day. We had this lechon kawali a while back but was not ready to post it. Maybe one of these days I’ll make it again after I got everyone craving for it.
How to Make Lechon Kawali – Filipino Crispy Deep Fried Pork Belly
- 2 1/2 pounds pork belly long stripped with skin
- 1 medium onion quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorn
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6 cups water or more to submerge pork belly
- cooking oil for deep frying
In a deep pot add pork belly and pour in water. Pork belly should be fully immersed in water.
Bring to a boil, remove scum and lower heat to medium – low.
Add onion, bay leaves, peppercorn, salt and garlic powder. Simmer for an hour or so or until tender but firm. Don’t overcook pork.
Remove pork belly from pot and transfer to a coriander to drain excess liquid.
Season pork with salt, ground pepper and garlic powder.
Place pork belly in the kitchen counter for a few hours to air dry before deep frying. Better yet leave it overnight in the fridge. This will prevent oil from splattering and a crispier pork skin. Note: If you want to deep fry immediately you could but be careful not to be hit by the hot smoldering oil. Use a huge lid to cover your face. My experience is not too crispy pork skin.
Using a fork, poke the pork belly skin a few times. This will make the pork skin crispier when frying.
Two ways to deep fry the pork belly. Deep fry pork belly as a whole or slice into bite size pieces before frying. If you prefer a moist pork belly deep fry it as a whole but if you like all sides to be crispy slice it into pieces and deep fry. I like it either way.
Heat your oil. I’m using a deep fryer set at 375 degree F. Once oil is hot fry the pork belly between 3 to 5 minutes. Note: Temperature will vary when cooking on stove top or deep fryer. Adjust cooking time accordingly.
Remove pork belly when it turns golden brown and crispy. Place it in a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Note: I remember my mom sprinkling water while frying to promote crackling of the skin. I skipped that process. That is the reason why I never learned to make Chicharon (pork rind).
Slice whole pork belly to bite size pieces. Serve it with your favorite dip like Mang Tomas (sweet liver sauce), atchara or spicy garlic vinegar. Enjoy!