A true Filipino favorite even for those who are not natives to the pleasures of Northern cuisine, Ilocos bagnet is known all over the country for a cooking technique with bay leaves and black pepper which easily delivers a crunchy, crispy skin and layers of rich pork fat without sacrificing the succulence of the meat. A guilty pleasure which is best eaten with plenty of tomatoes and onions, doused with garlicky vinegar and washed down with an ice-cold beer, Ilocos bagnet’s secret is really down to keeping it cooking slowly over low heat to let the fat melt into the lean parts of the liempo, before frying it over low heat to give it its characteristic golden-brown color. Don’t forget to drain your bagnet of oil after cooking it, as it’s already quite fatty on its own and added grease would affect the taste of the dish.
Original Ilocos Bagnet Recipe
- 1.5 kilo pork liempo (pork belly), whole
- ½ head garlic
- 1 tsp. peppercorns
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 bay leaves
- Cooking oil for frying
- ¼ 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.