Different Ways To Cut And Cook Liempo

Learn to use this versatile pork cut for different recipes.

ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

The liempo is a pork meat cut that can be used in a number of ways. Ask your butcher or visit the meat section of your supermarket, and you'll be greeted by a few ways that the pork liempo can be prepared:  

  • ‚ÄĘ whole belly¬†
  • ‚ÄĘ belly, bone-in
  • ‚ÄĘ belly, boneless
  • ‚Äʬ†lechon kawali¬†cut
  • ‚Äʬ†country style or¬†liempo,¬†sliced¬†
  • ‚ÄĘ bacon slice¬†

As you can see, the pork liempo is not just a big slab of pork that you can cook in one or two ways. While the lechon kawali and the inihaw na liempo are the most popular ways of cooking this pork cut, it can be used like any other pork cut. 

The big difference is that you have layers of both fat and meat to ensure that the pork is tender, flavorful, and juicy when you cook it. It's this layering that makes this pork cut especially easy to cook. 

This is how you can use this versatile pork cut for different recipes: 

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1 Keep it whole. 

Keeping the pork liempo whole is an easy way to prepare liempo. There is little prep needed. You can marinate the pork overnight or you can simmer and tenderize the pork in a seasoned broth. Seasoning the broth will ensure the flavors are infused in the pork as it cooks and becomes tender. 

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For lechon kawali, it's common to not marinate the pork before tenderizing but if you want to elevate your pork liempo recipe, you can marinate it. You can even use the same marinade to simmer the pork in so you can intensify the flavors' infusion into the pork. 

The result is super flavorful pork that is unlike any other. 

The biggest challenge of keeping it whole is frying it afterward. This is where a large pot, long tongs, and lots of oil comes in. You can even roast the pork if you have an oven (or an air fryer!) and have the time to let the oven do the cooking for you. 

Here are recipes to try using a whole pork liempo: 

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno
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2 Slice it into strips. 

The other most common way of preparing the liempo is in long strips. This is the classic cut for the inihaw na liempo. This cut is perfect for grilling because it exposes the layers of fat to render out and keep the meat tender and juicy while flavoring it as it melts. (Remember: fat means flavor since meat flavors are more readily carried in the fat, not in water.) 

This means this cut can be especially flavorful for any grilled recipe as well as any roasted recipe, too. Just like the whole liempo, you can marinate slices of liempo but not as long since these are thinner and don't require as much time to absorb flavors. 

Then it's just a matter of heating up the charcoal and grilling! Here are recipes to try: 

Photo by Patrick Martires
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3 Cut into perfect little cubes.  

Liempo is actually an easy meat cut to prepare yourself. That's because the liempo is relatively flat. Any parts that are not flat are usually on the edges, so the majority of the pork cut is easy to cut into cubes. This makes it super easy as a pork cut substitute for cuts that aren't available. 

Need pork kasim or pigue cubes for sinigang na baboy? Why not use pork liempo cubes instead? You can even use lechon kawali cut to make crispy pork that you add to the sinigang soup at the last minute before serving! 

Liempo cubes also make fabulous braised pork cuts. Again, the layers of fat and meat is conducive to braising and stewing since the fat will keep the meat flavorful while it renders to create sticky and super tender pork chunks that will be incredible to bite into. 

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Here are awesome recipes to try: 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana

4 Cut into small thin slices. 

You don't need to wait too long to cook the liempo, especially if it's been sliced thinly. This is a brilliant use of the fat and meat combo! You don't have to worry about the meat drying out because of the layers but you also don't have to worry about it not being tasty and delicious. You can serve it with any sauce or dip as desired. You can even marinate these in less than an hour before cooking for extra flavor. 

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Try these recipes using thinly sliced liempo: 

*** 

Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here.

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