Learn the secret on how to make crispy Lechon Kawali, an all-time Filipino favorite dish of pork belly fried to a perfect crisp! Deliciously crunchy in every bite!Lechon Kawali is a well-loved pork dish all over the country and probably soon, all over the world.
It involves boiling the pork belly slab and then deep-fried later on, making the exterior crisp and crunchy while leaving the inside tender and juicy.
I can never tire of eating Lechon Kawali and I could probably do so every day, if only it is as healthy as it tastes (really) good. But indulging once in a while should be fine.
In this post, I will also share a secret on how to get that pork skin crackling to a perfect crisp.
But first, here are some tips on how to choose your pork for Lechon Kawali.
what is the best pork cut for Lechon Kawali?
- The cut that is used for making Lechon Kawali would be the 'Liempo' or the pork belly. The interchanging layers of meat and fat make it one of the tastiest part of the pork.
- Choose a slab of pork belly with equal parts of fats and meat with good alternating layers.
- Too much (lean) meat will give you dry, hard and chewy texture so do not get a thick slab. Choose a pork belly slab that is not more than 1 ½ inch thick.
how to make crispy fried pork (Lechon Kawali)?
If you want to get that crispy crackling pig skin when deep-fried, then just follow this tips:
- You've got to air dry your pork first after boiling it. You do this by draining the excess water and then putting the slab of pork belly in the fridge for some hours or overnight.
- After the pork belly is air-dried and ready to cook, cut it into desired frying pieces. I find that cutting them into squares the size of an inch is the most ideal size. This makes all sides golden and crispy while the interior remains moist and juicy. This also reduces the cooking time.
- Make sure that the oil is hot and try to keep it that way all throughout while frying the pork pieces. Do not fry frozen pork as it will cook unevenly and will affect the oil temperature. Do not crowd the pot or pan while frying, fry them in small batches and they will cook faster and more even.
- While frying, you have to sprinkle a bit of cold water from time to time to induce the crackling of the pork skin. Just be careful of the splatters and I would suggest to cover up your hand and arms (and face) if possible or get a splatter screen like this one.
Lechon Kawali is usually served with spicy vinegar or a special liver-based Lechon sauce but my favorite dip is a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar with lots of chopped onions and a red hot chili with some fresh ground black pepper. Another serving of rice? Yes, please!
- 2 pounds pork belly
- 3 tablespoons salt - for boiling
- 2 teaspoons peppercorn (whole)
- 5 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 5 cloves garlic - crushed
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt - for rubbing
- 2-3 cups oil - for frying
- In a pot, combine pork belly, salt, peppercorn, bay leaves, soy sauce, garlic, and water. Bring to boil. Let it cook until meat is fork-tender.
- Remove the pork belly from water and let the excess water completely drain. Transfer to a plate and then rub 1 tablespoon of salt all over the meat. Put in the fridge overnight to dry out.
- Cut in cubes, about an inch thick. Heat oil in a wok or pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, fry each side of a cut for 5 minutes while sprinkling the skin with ice-cold water and letting it crackle from time to time.
- Remove from hot oil and transfer into a plate lined with kitchen paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve while still hot with your fave dipping sauce!
Followed your recipe 100%. What a fantastic game day appetizer. Loved it, there will never be enough for my family! Thank you!
very unique nice recipe you shared thanks you😊 🙏✌️
You are welcome, Jessie.
Nicholas Aguirre says
Can you a deep fryer and if so what temp should it be set at?
Hi! Curious if this can be done in an Air Fryer?
Sure you can, MConte.
Hi, Why do you need to sprinkle the ice water? Throughout the frying process in estimation how many times do you sprinkle it? Thanks!
This is done to induce the crackling. I do it about 3 to 4 times.
I will try this lechon Kawali tomorrow it looks real good. Thanks for sharing
Correct me if wrong... but does not the skin need to be pierced with shallow holes after boiling and drying, allowing it to get crispy?
You can do that before boiling if you like but since the skin protein is already denatured from boiling it for a long time, so no need really. If you do it after it might just break the skin.
Phillip Holguin says
So I just purchased 5lbs of a pork belly slab. It is frozen. How do I prepare this from the frozen state for tonight?
When you say boil until fork tender, can you tell me approximately how long?
Hi Lauren, it really varies depending on the meat you have but since it is the belly part which is normally a more tender cut, about 30-50 minutes.
The answer you want is...
Till you can effortlessly stab the through the protein with a fork
My dutch husband loved it, of course he dipped it with mustard 😁 ! I cooked half portion after 2 hours in a fridge on a medium heat just to try and it taste sooo good! I didn't put cold water into the pan because I can hear it crackling all over. Thank you for sharing the recipe!
Hi carol, so nice to hear that your Dutch hubby is loving our local food. Armin loves this too..
Cenon Bernardo says
The part where you say sprinkle with ice cold water while deep frying, scary part sis, you've got to be specific with that procedure 😊😊
It is a little scary. What I do is use a teaspoon to drizzle the cold water to the meat. I do it fast though and go out of the way after...
Like do you take the pork out of the deep fryer for that one sec and pour the cold water directly to the pork or you just grab a spoon of water and pour it in the oill?
You drizzle it directly to the hot pan. Use a tall pot if you have one so it will protect you from the splatters.
Hi, I was wondering, could I freeze the pork after the boiling part? I would like to boil up some batches of it and then thaw & fry it on the day I wish to eat it? Trying to do some of the prep work beforehand?
I am pretty sure you can Danni, just remember to allow time to thaw and also to let the meat air dry in the fridge to get crispy skin.
Do you have a recipe for Chicharon? I’m guessing it will be a lot like this one. Thanks!
Hi Jessica, I do not have a chicharon recipe! But as far as I know, after air-drying them in the fridge you still have to either bake them under the heat of the sun or in an oven before you deep fry them.
Sarah Jane Nieto says
I love Lechon kawali but i’m so afraid to cook it. Tried once and it took me hours, because i turn off the fire once in a while everytime i turn the meat. 😉 just to be safe from oil splatter.
thanks for sharing nakakagutom 🙂 . Natry ko n po Yung sprite/7up SA marinade at masarap Lalo n pag overnight.
This is so good. I Lechon Kawali in my blog too, and I cannot get enough of it. I wish it's healthy so that I can have it everyday. Also, you guys moved back to the Philippines? That is a brave decision to make. Good luck!
Wow! What a surprise to know that you moved to Philippines... for good?
Anyway, I like to try this but I was thinking how to do exactly sprinkling water while frying? The oil probably would be splashing.... hehehe a little afraid of it....
Hi Jueven, yup we are here and hopefully for good! I know exactly what you mean by being a little afraid of the oil splatters...me too! Just be careful and keep some distance and it should be fine.