These Are Our Best Tips For Cooking Lechon Kawali

That crispy, crackling pork is guaranteed with these tips!

IMAGE Bianca Laxamana

The crunch you hear when you bite into a super crispy piece of pork is really a satisfying sound. 

The crunchy lechon kawali is one of the easier crispy pork recipes you can make at home that doesn't require you to do an excessive amount of work or need a giant pot or wok to accomplish it with success. However, achieving that super crispy pork cracking is something that can be elusive to even the more experienced cooks. 

The trick to that super crispy, crackling top on your lechon kawali is two things: holes and dryness. You'll understand what we mean better as we explain the steps plus the tips you're going to need to know to achieve super crispy pork crackling on your lechon kawali

Boil the pork in stock for a more flavorful pork belly.
Photo by Riell Santos
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1. Boil the pork. 

The first thing you need to do is boil the pork. It actually doesn't have to be too long but it should be enough time to make sure that the pork is heated. Depending on how large your pork belly is, this can take 20 minutes or more for the pork to heat up. 

Note that you don't need the pork to be cooked through just yet, just heated through enough that the pork skin becomes a little softer. This is important for the next step. 

Poke holes in the softened pork skin with a fork, barbecue sticks, or even the tip of your knife.
Photo by Riell Santos
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2. Poke holes in the pork skin. 

See those crispy bubbles you see on crispy pork? Those are courtesy of the holes that were made on the skin.

To do this, use a fork, barbecue sticks, or even the tip of your knife to make holes in the pork skin. You don't want to slice into the meat but rather create holes in the skin where the oil can penetrate a few millimeters into the pork to help crisp it up. The more holes that you can make in the skin of the pork, the crispier it will be. This allows the skin to naturally have openings where moisture can bubble out from as it dries out and crisps up in the hot oil you'll submerge it into later.  

Sprinkle salt on top to bring out the moisture.
Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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3 Sprinkle with salt and refrigerate overnight.

Before you let the pork dry out overnight, sprinkle some salt on the poked pork skin. This will help draw out any further moisture from the pork skin during its time in the refrigerator. If you want to add more flavor to your pork, you can rub in your choice of dry rub spice on the meat only.  

Dry the pork before cooking for the crispiest skin.
Photo by Riell Santos
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4 Prepare the pork for frying. 

After the overnight drying, rub down the pork again to not only remove the excess salt but also any of the moisture it drew out. Use a paper towel or kitchen towel so it can be as dry as possible. 

This next step might sound counterintuitive since you just dried out the pork skin but there are people who find that pork has a funky smell to it. If you are one of those people, you need to do this step before popping this in the hot oil: brush the top with vinegar. You don't need a lot but just a light coat on the skin will not only help the crispness of the skin but it will also remove any odors that you may not like on your pork, too. 

If you want, now is the time to slice your pork into cubes for faster frying or into long lengths unless you want to cook the liempo whole and slice it afterward.  

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Heat oil to the right temperature for the best frying experience.
Photo by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

5. Heat oil to the right temperature. 

As with any deep frying recipe, you need to heat your oil to the right temperature. You can do this with a deep-fry thermometer or use any of these methods.

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  1. 1. Chopstick Method: Dip a barbecue skewer, a wooden chopstick, or the handle of a wooden spoon into the heated oil. If the oil bubbles steadily around the stick, then the temperature is ready. Your oil is too hot if the bubbles are too vigorous and it's not hot enough if very few bubbles form.
  2. 2. Bread Method: Drop a piece of bread into the oil. How fast it browns determines if it's too hot or still too cold. 
  3. 3. Hand Method: If you're brave enough, place your hand above the hot oil. If you can't hold your hand above the oil for about 5 seconds, it's perfect. If you can't, it may be too hot and longer than that, it's too cold. 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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6 Cook it until crispy. 

Slide your pork pieces into the hot oil and only fish it out when the skin has become crackly and crispy. Use tongs for a sure grip but once out, remember to place it on a wire rack and not on paper towels so the moisture won't make your crispy pork soggy.  

Now that you know how to make super crispy lechon kawali, try any of these recipes to find out which is your new favorite way of enjoying this succulent but crispy pork meal. 

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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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