Lechon kawali, or pan-fried pork, is very easy to make. But it’s also a dish I try NOT to make, on account of the hot oil, the splatter and the tinikling I unavoidably perform in front of the stove.
However, I think I’ve figured out a way to avoid the hot oil altogether but still get that just-fried, buttery-fat-melting-in-your-mouth taste. Instead of frying, you bake it! But that’s after simmering it for 2 hours. You still need to make that delicious pork belly as tender as possible.
It’s kinda silly to list ingredients because all you need really is the pork belly. I usually get 2 pounds because if you’re going through all this trouble, might as well make enough for a few meals. Place enough water in a pan to cover the pork belly and turn up the heat. When it starts boiling, remove the scum that gathers on top and reduce the heat. Add your seasoning and herbs. It could just be salt, maybe a few pieces of bay leaf. I like to add a tablespoon of soy sauce, garlic and star anise. Let that simmer for a little less than a couple of hours. Pierce the meat with a fork. If the fork goes all the way through, it’s done.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside to cool and drain. Place the meat in an oven-safe pan (I used my cast-iron), skin/fat part up and slide it on the first rack of the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check the pork. If you want the skin/fat to be crisper, add another 10 minutes. (Personally, I don’t like keeping it longer than 30 minutes in the oven because the bottom part dries up easily and gets difficult to chew.) Remove from the oven, chop into big chunks and immediately serve with liver sauce, a sweet chili sauce or vinegar infused with garlic. Oh, and lots of rice. Mangan ta na (let’s eat)!