The original Ilocos Bagnet, of course, hails from the northern region of Ilocos in the Philippines and is very similar to another guilty pleasure Filipino dish, lechon kawali. This pork dish has become a true Filipino favorite all over the country even for those non-native Ilocanos. A single taste of this crispy and savory authentic Filipino pork recipe always leaves people craving for more wherever they are in the country.
I was certainly intrigued the first time I tried Ilocos bagnet or just simply bagnet. I immediately found the similarities it has with lechon kawali but the different bagnet and lechon kawali are also plainly evident. Bagnet is hands down a crunchier and more succulent dish that comes from the puffed-up skin of the crispy pork skin and the perfectly cooked fat layered between the meat. An overall delightfully satisfying combination.
The Ilocanos love to eat bagnet with a dipping sauce which can vary depending on your preference but the most common one I saw can simply be a combination of tomatoes, onions, with garlicky vinegar. I also found that eating bagnet and washing it down with an ice-cold beer is the best way to experience this Ilocano classic.
Eating bagnet is almost very similar to eating a very savory and meaty chicharon and that’s one of the best ways to differentiate from lechon kawali. The first time I saw bagnet in person, I honestly thought that it’s just a new of lechon kawali but it’s actually an already established Ilocano recipe.
One of the main distinguishing factors that bagnet has from the more well known lechon kawali is its cooking process. Bagnet is fried twice unlike lechon kawali which is only fried once even though both are first initially broiled before frying.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I was fortunate enough to try bagnet in Ilocos made by Ilocanos so it couldn’t get more authentic than that. The crunchiness of the skin and the perfect layers of meat and fats is an awesome combination, especially when dipped in their homemade dipping sauce and simple garnish. I quickly asked some questions on how they were made but the restaurant owner doesn’t give up their secrets that easily.
After some more inquiries and light begging, I still wasn’t able to get the recipe out of the chef which was fair enough. It was their original recipe after all. But I did manage to decipher some ingredients they used by taste and the dipping sauce and garnish they included with the bagnet are plenty straightforward. Plus with the power of the internet, I got some basic bagnet recipes that I used as a general guide to recreate Ilocos Bagnet at home.
This is exactly what we’re going to be tackling in today’s recipe. I want to create a bagnet recipe that’s as close to the original as possible. With that said, we’re gonna need 1.5 kilos of whole pork belly or pork liempo, ½ head of garlic, 1 tablespoon of peppercorn, 2 tablespoons of salt, 1 bay leaf, huge amounts of cooking oil, and ¼ cup of patis or fish sauce.
Of course, we’ll need fluffy white rice for serving along with Sukang Ilocos. For garnish, we’ll simply gonna use tomatoes and red onions. Pretty straightforward right?
Now for the cooking process! It’s important to follow these steps properly to achieve that juicy layers of meat and fat of the bagnet while also getting that extra crispy pork skin.
In a deep yok, pot or a deep pan, add the pork belly or liempo then add enough water to cover the pork. Add in the peppercorn, bay leaf, and salt. Cover then bring everything to a boil. Once the water is boiling, lower the heat and let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or until the pork is tender.
After the simmering process is done, remove the pork from the pot and transfer it to a colander to sit until the excess liquid in the pork is drained. Meanwhile, prick the skin multiple times using a fork and use a paper towel to let it dry if necessary. Once it’s dry, place the pork in the refrigerator for at least a couple hours.
After refrigerating the pork for several hours, deep fry the pork in a large pan or kawali in low heat for 30 to 45 minutes. You’ll know its ready when the pork turns brown and when the skin rises up. Once you determine that the pork is ready, ladle cold water onto the skin.
We can now remove the pork out of the pan and once again drain the oil in a colander or paper towels and allow it to cool completely. I find that this step is quite important for the taste cause if you don’t drain it, the added grease can overwhelm the taste especially since it’s already quite fatty on its own.
Finally, once the pork is cooled, chop it into serving pieces and serve immediately with rice along with dipping sauce of Sukang Ilocos or garnish with tomatoes and onions.
Original Ilocos Bagnet Recipe
- 1.5 kilo pork liempo pork belly, whole
- 1/2 head garlic
- 1 tsp. peppercorns
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 bay leaves
- Cooking oil for frying
- 1/4 cup patis
- Sukang Ilocos for serving
- rice for serving
- tomatoes and red onions for garnish
- Add enough water to cover the pork belly
- Add in salt, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves
- Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 45minutes to 1 hour or until pork is tender.
- Remove from the pot and place in a colander and let sit for a while so the liquid will drain. Prick the skin many times using fork then dry with paper towels if necessary. Brush lightly with patis. Keep refrigerated for several hours.
- In a large frying pan (kawali), heat enough cooking oil and deep fry pork belly at low heat for 30-45 minutes or until the pork turns brown. When the skin side is up, laddle cold water onto the skin.
- Remove pork belly from the kawali and drain oil in a colander or paper towels, allow to cool completely.
- Chop Bagnet to serving pieces and serve immediately with rice, Sukang Ilocos or tomatoes or onions.