If there’s one characteristic of a really good Lechon Kawali, it’s that crunch factor. And this recipe delivers more than that! The crackling skin shatters as you munch into it….it’s that kind of crunch! This (of course) is a “sometimes food” for obvious reasons. Lechon de Carajay, as my lola (grandmother) called it, is pork belly that’s simmered until tender then deep fried to a golden perfection.
Did you know that taking an extra step will take this well-loved pork dish into a different level? If you stick the tender slabs in the oven until the skin becomes hard when tapped then deep frying it for just a mere minute, the skin will puff and form blisters before your eyes. That’s the prized chicharon skin!
If you want to make more, just double the pork but keep the spice mix as is. Remember to eat moderately and save some for the next day. Enjoy!
Lechon Kawali (Crunchy Puffed Skin)
- 2 lbs pork belly I used two 1lb slabs
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 onion quartered
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- Oil for deep frying
- ½ cup vinegar
- 2 finely chopped garlic
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes or chopped Thai chilies
- *Mix all ingredients in a small bowl
- Stovetop Method: In a large pot (with lid), add all the ingredients (except oil) and fill with enough water to cover the meat by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hr or until meat is tender. Instant Pot Method: Position the trivet inside the IP. Place the spices in the inner pot, add 1 cup of water and arrange the pork belly on the rack. Meat setting for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of your meat) then Natural Release after 15 minutes.
- Drain and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet (skin side up) and bake at 325F for 1 ½ – 2 hrs. (see notes). Fat will render and the skin will be dry and hard when tapped. (see image below)
- Deep fry in very hot oil for 1 minute (or even less). Remove as soon as the skin puffs up and forms blisters. Drain on a rack for a bit before chopping in bite-size portions. Make sure that the oil is very hot. This is key to achieve the puff skin.
- Serve with the dipping sauce (recipe above), Mang Tomas or Soy-lemon dip.