Lechón from The Philippines
right1969135Figure 2.0. (Yen, 2016)
00Figure 2.0. (Yen, 2016)
left1962785Figure 1.0. (Tiu, 2015)
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My chosen food dish from The Philippines is Lechón, or Roasted Suckling Pig. The origin of “Lechon” comes from the Spanish term that translate to roasted suckling pig. It is a pork dish that is best recognized for its glistening crispy golden-red skin and juicy, flavorsome and tender meat.
It is a national dish which although each region has its’ varying style and flavor, the best lechon arguably hails from Cebu, the southern city of Philippines.
Lechon is a traditional dish best prepared and enjoyed by friends and families for special gatherings and occasions. It is a popular dish at gatherings because of how much the amount of time and effort it takes to prepare lechon signifies the importance of the event. With Christmas the most important holiday in the Philippines, it often takes up to six weeks of advance ordering for a Lechon from restaurants and Lechon makers for Christmas.
Cooking Lechon is a simple albeit time-consuming process. The pigs first have their insides removed and is then stuffed with a bouquet of herbs and seasoning such as garlic, salt, lemongrass and leeks, depending on the region. The skin is then rubbed with either coconut water, soy sauce or milk before being roasted over a charcoal pit for up to five hours.
The best lechon is said to be made with young piglets that are between two to six weeks old as they are less fatty. Once ready, the skin is cut and served with a portion of the meat (Lin, 2017).
Flavor Profile of Lechon
The tastiest part of lechon would be the pigs’ ribs and the belly where the most fat is and flavor concentration. The meat is juicy and succulent while the skin is crispy and crunchy. Lechon tend to be salty due to the marinate used. The taste varies in each region due to the differing seasonings used. For example, in Cebu they use lemongrass and pili nuts whereas in Bicol they use green chilies infused with coconut oil and milk (Chan, 2017).
Overview & People of The Philippines
Originally a Spanish delicacy, Filipinos have embraced and adopted Lechon as a part of their own cuisine. The Philippines has a unique culture due to many influences from past colonization and neighboring countries. The Philippines was ruled by the Spaniards in 1570 to 1898 and then by the Americans in 1903 to 1946. Being a Spanish colony for over three centuries, Filipinos have adopted influences such as religion and cuisine. For example, over 86% of the Philippine Population is Roman Catholic (Miller, n.d.).
In fact, the Republic of the Philippines was named to honor the late King Philip II of Spain in 1543 (“The Philippines”, 2015).
left1845310Figure 3.0., (Chan, 2014)
0Figure 3.0., (Chan, 2014)
left57150The influence is most evident during Noche Buena. Noche Buena was exclusively a traditional Spanish Christmas Eve dinner that came after midnight mass but has since been practiced in The Philippines, where local adaptations of Spanish dishes such as Lechon, Paella and Leche are served and shared amongst family and friends (Veneracion, 2018).
Singapore Dish – Roasted Pork Belly (Sio Bak)
Similarities & Difference of Flavor Profile
left1540510Figure 4.0., (“Roast Pork Belly”, 2014)
0Figure 4.0., (“Roast Pork Belly”, 2014)
left762000The Singaporean dish I would compare with Lechon would be Roasted Pork Belly (Sio Bak). Originally a Cantonese dish, it has been brought into Singapore and have become one of the most ubiquitous food dishes available.
Mostly found in hawker centres, Sio Bak is usually paired with barbequed pork (Char Siew) and served with rice. Like Lechon, Sio Bak is made by roasting pork at a high temperature. However, while Lechon is saved for special occasions, Sio Bak is eaten on a regular basis here.
Its taste is also very much like Lechon, with its crispy skin and juicy, flavorsome meat. What sets them apart is the seasoning and part of the meat used. Unlike Lechon, Sio Bak is very much a Chinese dish that utilizes Chinese ingredients.
Lechon uses a whole pig that is stuffed with seasoning such as lemongrass and herbs whereas Sio Bak uses slabs of pork belly and marinates it with seasoning such as Chinese five-spice powder and Shaoxing wine. Also, Sio Bak focuses on the juicy and tender melt-in-your-mouth pork fat skin while the main goal of Lechon is the pigs’ crispy golden-red skin. The cooking methods used also differs between the two. Lechon is mostly made by being roasted over a charcoal pit while Sio Bak can be oven roasted.
Philippine ; Singapore
Both Singapore and Philippines were once colonized and have only been independent countries (1965 and 1946 respectively) for less than a century. Thus, their cuisine today is made up of local interpretations of the foreign cultural influences that have assimilated into their countries` cultures.
For example, while Filipinos have their own version of the Spanish Paella (Valencian rice dish) where they will use glutinous rice instead of arborio rice and tomato sauce or food coloring instead of saffron, Singaporeans also have curry puffs which are puff pastries filled with potatoes, Indian spices and meat that was created as a British-friendly version of samosas (Sood, 2010).
Like most Asian countries, rice is part of our staple diets. However, Singapore cuisine takes majority influences from the different cultures of the Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian and Eurasian settlers. For example, our local cuisine has Bak Kut Teh that comes from Southern China and Fish Head Curry from Southern India (Falkowitz, n.d.).
On the other hand, Philippine cuisine has more of a Western influence. The Spaniards introduced their Spanish culture and historians say that 80% of Filipino cuisine has roots to Spanish dishes. Examples of such are Lechon, Paella as well as Abodo.
left1498600Figure 5.0., (Lopez,2017)
0Figure 5.0., (Lopez,2017)
left5080000Filipinos has also been influenced by the American food culture of fast-food. A testament to that is Jollibee, the national fast-food chain of the Philippines which is well-loved by almost every Filipino, with over 900 stores in the country.
Word Count: 998 Words
Tiu, C. (2015, February 28). The Lechon Degustation: A Tribute to the Philippine Suckling Pig. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/cheryltiu/2015/02/28/the-lechon-degustation-a-tribute-to-the-philippine-suckling-pig/#3d45b38d20b6Dreyfus, Y. (2016, June 15). Rico’s Lechon in Cebu – Da best gyud! Retrieved from http://www.thetummytraveler.ph/2016/06/15/ricos-lechon-cebu/Lin, M. P. (2017, December 20). Lechon is the world’s most delicious Christmas tradition. Retrieved from https://thetakeout.com/lechon-is-the-worlds-most-delicious-christmas-tradition-1821417443Chan, B. (2017, August 31). The secrets to great lechon – whole roasted suckling pig that’s virtually a Filipino national dish. Retrieved from https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/food-drink/article/2108935/secrets-great-lechon-whole-roasted-suckling-pig-thats-virtuallyMiller, J. (n.d.). Religion in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://asiasociety.org/education/religion-philippinesThe Philippines: Culture and Tradition. (2015, February 20). Retrieved from http://blog.globalizationpartners.com/the-philippines-culture-and-tradition.aspxChan, M. S. (2014, December 12). PINOY FAVORITES: 5 ESSENTIAL NOCHE BUENA DISHES. Retrieved from https://www.travelbook.ph/blog/pinoy-favorites-5-essential-noche-buena-dishes/VENERACION, C. (2018, July 15). The Spanish Influence on Filipino Cuisine. Retrieved from https://www.thespruceeats.com/the-spanish-influence-on-filipino-cuisine-3030287ROAST PORK BELLY (SIO BAK) THE SOUS VIDE WAY. (2014, September 1). Retrieved from http://www.foodcanon.com/2014/09/roast-pork-siu-bak.htmlSood, S. (2010, December 15). Singaporean food’s past and present. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20101214-travelwise-singaporean-foods-past-and-presentFalkowitz, M. (n.d.). An Introduction to Singaporean Food. Retrieved from https://www.seriouseats.com/2012/07/an-introduction-to-singaporean-food-cuisine.htmlLopez, E. C. (2017, July 3). After 1,000th Store on 39th Year, Jollibee Steps Up Pace for Next Thousand. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com.ph/news-and-events/after-1-000th-store-on-40th-year-jollibee-steps-up-pace-for-next-thousand-a00178-20170703