What's the Difference Between Luzon Lechon and Visayas Lechon?

Which one do you like more?

PHOTO BY Vincent Coscolluela

Filipinos tend to light up with anticipation whenever they hear the words: “Merong lechon!” during Noche Buena, birthday parties, weddings, fiestas, and other gatherings. Who wouldn’t? Roast pig is one of those Filipino favorites that we usually flock to at any buffet spread because the crunchy skin runs out way too fast! Even Anthony Bourdain fell in love with lechon’s juicy, delicious magic. In one of his No Reservations episodes, he declared that Cebu’s famous lechon is “the best pig ever!”

But did you know there’s a difference between the lechon from Luzon and the lechon from Visayas? Besides their geographical origins, there are a few more factors that set these two equally delicious lechon apart.

Mila's Lechon's version has a mild lemongrass flavor that rounds out the pork's general saltiness, but not much else in terms of seasoning.
PHOTO BY Ida Aldana

In terms of flavoring or aromatics (before the pig is roasted over a pit of charcoal), the Luzon-style version is much less extravagant. It usually has no stuffing and only has a simple rub of salt and pepper on the skin. According to Chef Claude Tayag of Pampanga restaurant Bale Dutung, "they [Luzon lechon] are not flavored, they don't have any stuffing. They rely heavily on the sauce of the lechon, 'yung liver sauce."

The lechon at Lydia's Lechon comes with their own signature sarsa.
PHOTO BY Ida Aldana

The savory liver sauce is one of the factors that make eating plain and simple Luzon lechon a delicious experience. The liver-based sauce lends a sweet and savory flavor to lechon. For Luzon lechon, you can check out La Loma Street in Quezon City, lined with lechon places from small-time family businesses to big names like Mila's Lechon.

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Zubuchon's Cebu-style lechon is stuffed with over 15 herbs and spices.
PHOTO BY Jericho San Miguel

How does the Visayan-style lechon differ? A great example is the famous Cebu lechon, which is usually stuffed with a variety of herbs and spices. There are varied ways Cebuanos stuff their lechon with aromatics, but most use an abundance of lemongrass, saba or taro plant, green onions, sliced onions, garlic, cracked black pepper, and salt. It’s packed with so much flavor, which is why you can enjoy eating it as is (of course, with tons of steamed rice).

The Spicy Lechon at Rico's Lechon is seasoned not just with lemongrass, tomatoes, leeks, vinegar, ginger, and calamansi, but also with spicy garlic.
PHOTO BY Majoy Siason

Chef Claude shares that Cebuanos usually don't like using liver sauce with their lechon. "At most, they dip it in vinegar kasi sobrang alat na." This is why most Cebu-lechon joints, like Zubuchon and Rico's Lechon, serve vinegar with their Cebu lechon.

Some places like Le Chon at The Grid go beyond the usual Luzon or Visayas lechon, using French techniques to create something uniquely theirs.
PHOTO BY Bea Faicol

So which one is better: Luzon lechon or Visayas lechon? This is a question that doesn’t need to be answered because they are both delicious in their own unique way. Just enjoy these two types of equally delicious lechon with lots of steamed white rice—and don't forget the sawsawan!

This story originally appeared on Yummy.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Spot.ph editors.

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