I spent the past ten days eating through both Iloilo and Bacolod. Yesterday, I had the privilege to celebrate Therese’s grandma’s birthday in Silay, Bacolod. Lola Susing turned 92! Can you imagine? 92? The cool thing about it is the fact she’s really strong and sharp. She walks, talks, eats solid food, does her own accounting and can hold conversations about varying topics from current events to history. It’s so refreshing to get to spend time with someone who’s been around to experience so many things. But anyway, on to the food!
My family has lechon quite often but never have I ever tried roasted pig as flavorful as this one. The skin was browned and was thin but was perfectly crisp. Inside the carcass, you’ll observe that it’s stuffed with leaves and seasoned with rock salt. My friend, Therese says that they usually stuff the lechon with tanglad (lemon grass) but this time, it seems like they used dayap (lime) leaves. I’m not sure though if these are dayap leaves so if you could comment and help identify them then it would be awesome.
Look at all those leaves! When they chopped this baby open, the manong took all the leaves out and it filled up a whole balde. Apart from giving out a ton of flavor, the leaves probably also helped keeping the lechon’s insides hot. I remember when they were cutting it, the scent wafted through the air and it just smelled really good. This is the best lechon I’ve ever had in my entire life. I went straight for the pork belly, ribs and my absolute favorite, the cheeks. It was both salty and herby at the same time. Certainly tastier than the usual lechon we have here in Manila.
Do you know of any Manila-based lechon places who stuff their pigs this way? Send me their contact details if you can.
Edit. I messaged the MarketMan to confirm what leaves these were and this is what he had to say. “Sarie, I am not certain, but my first reaction would have been batuan fruit inside their lechon, therefore, possibly batuan leaves. But intellectually, I would have to guess these are what Cebuanos call “bago” leaves that come from the tree that bear fruit to a nut made into famous Indonesian crackers. The bago leaves impart a slightly sour flavor and would make an interesting stuffing. The bago leaves are not that common in Manila markets. If I may comment, however, on that particular lechon your photographed, it does appear to have a fairly copious layer of fat under the skin and it is likely brushed with soy sauce or other sugared liquid to get it so burnished dark caramel, which can sometimes border on a bit of bitterness on the taste buds, possibly counterbalanced by the notes of sourness in the stuffing… I hope that helped. They are definitely NOT dayap leaves — I grow dayap and unless you have some giant dayap leaf variety, those are not dayap leaves. :)” The search lives on! I wonder if they really are bago leaves! Thanks, MarketMan!