Lechon is one of the most iconic dishes in Filipino cuisine and is probably more known around the world than staple Filipino dishes like sinigang and adobo. It’s hard to describe lechon because calling it a dish seems like such a disservice as lechon typically needs to be set up on its own table when it’s presented at fiestas and special occasions.
For those who don’t know, Lechon is a whole pig stuffed with aromatic ingredients roasted out in the open over a bed of hot coal and it’s a hugely popular centerpiece during feasts all over the Philippines. No huge celebration is complete without it.
Roasting a whole pig has been speculated to exist in the Philippines since pre-colonial times but it wasn’t until the Spanish came to the Philippines that it was popularly termed as lechon.
Lechon is also a hugely popular dish in Spain and other Spanish colonized countries, however, lechon in Spanish referred to a suckling pig which is smaller in size compared to the relatively larger lechon found in the Philippines.
It can be that Filipinos have been roasting whole pigs since before the Spanish came and introduced their version of Lechon or that Filipinos got lechon from Spain, completely run with it, and transformed it with the unique flavors of the country and it became a popular Filipino recipe it currently is.
In fact, the Philippines boasts to have the best lechon recipes in the world, specifically in the region of Cebu something American chef Anthony Bourdain has attested to.
Read further: 10 Pinoy Pork Dishes and their Places of Origin
Now that we’ve established a summary of all the things we need to know about lechon, let’s jump into what this article is about. If you’ve ever seen lechon in the Philippines, you’ll know that it’s big.
It’s a roasted grown pig and not just a suckling which is why during the big celebrations when lechon is served, rarely is the entire thing devoured and there are quite some leftovers remaining.
What do we do with the lechon leftovers?
Filipinos, being the resourceful people that they are, rather than give it to the dogs, use the leftover lechon in the following days (as long as it doesn’t turn rotten) for unique and delicious Filipino recipes. Some can get really creative with their use of the leftover lechon but for the most part, Filipino cuisine has some staple recipes that make use of the delicious lechon meat.
Here are the best recipes for leftover lechon:
1. Pork Sisig
Probably one of the most beloved pork recipes in the Philippines, pork sisig originates in the city of Pampanga. Sisig came from the old Kapampangan word sisigan which means “to make sour”. During the 1700s, this term applies to a sour salad made up of green papaya and green guava dressed with vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. It was originally used as a remedy for hangovers.
It wasn’t until the American occupations that this sour green salad got pork incorporated into its ingredients which came from the cheeks of leftover lechon which was first boiled and chopped. The original recipe also includes pigs brain but a modern rendition of the dish uses chicken liver instead.
The result is a delicious salty and sour pork dish that gained huge popularity as a pulutan all over the Philippines.
Read further: The Best 13 Sisig Recipes Available in the Philippines
One of the most common Filipino recipes to go to if you have leftover lechon, lechon paksiw is an all-time favorite amongst the everyday Filipino. This recipe results in a tart, rich, and savory pork dish that perfectly fits well with rice. After fiestas, the leftover lechon is quickly salvaged by the first person to notice the excess pork (with the host’s blessing, of course) and brought home to make the delicious lechon paksiw dish the next day.
The leftover lechon is simmered in the delicious mixture of soy sauce, leftover lechon sauce, vinegar, and beef stock. Giving the lechon a do-over in flavor while still retaining its moisture.
See also: Pineapple Lechon Paksiw Recipe
Adobo and lechon. Two dishes that are highly debated over being the national dish of the Philippines so combining these two iconic Filipino recipes for some reason brings me great satisfaction. There’s just something so right when merging these two iconic Filipino recipes together.
Plus, it’s as simple as taking as much leftover lechon as you can and marinating it with the classic adobo mixture consisting of ingredients such as soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorn. And because the lechon has already been roasted, the cooking time is reduced as the pork has a quicker time absorbing the marinade and tenderizing in the pot.
See also: Adobong Sitaw with Lechon Carajay Recipe
Another combination of two iconic Filipino dishes, singing na lechon uses leftover lechon and use it as the main source of protein in the classic sinigang recipe. The leftover lechon is boiled in a pot along with souring ingredients like sampalok and gabi along with various healthy vegetables.
Sinigang na lechon recipe is one of the most popular recipes that use leftover lechon after holiday feasts where the weather is a lot cooler in the Philippines. It’s the perfect post-celebration dish where everyone returns to the quiet of their home and enjoy the warmth of this ultimate comfort food.
Read further: Sinigang: Facts and Trivia, Origin, and Recipes
Binagoongan is a traditional Filipino cooking method where a choice of protein is cooked stewed with a generous amount of shrimp paste or bagoong which creates a deliciously salty and somewhat spicy flavor. There’s a huge variety of binagoongan recipes in the Philippines but one of the most popular is binagoongang baboy or pork binagoongan.
Leftover lechon is a perfect protein to use for this recipe as the already roasted pork will reduce the cooking time compared to raw pork bellies that are typically used for this recipe. All that’s need to do is to make sure that the leftover lechon gets a little crisp and proceed with the binagoongang recipe as usual.
See also: Binagooangan Boneless Crispy Pata Recipe
6. Lechon Fried Rice
One of the more humble entries on this list on recipes using leftover lechon, the lechon fried rice is also one of the most popular morning after recipes. Lechon fried rice is essentially a sinangag recipe that uses the leftover lechon as the main ingredient.
This recipe is also a testament to the resourcefulness of Filipino cuisine because sinangag itself uses leftover rice, and other leftover ingredients, cook it with minced garlic, and it’s served it at the breakfast table. Lechon fried rice is a rare treat as lechon is typically reserved for big celebrations, but when leftover lechon is available, Filipinos can get creative in the kitchen.
Lechon fried rice can be eaten on its own along with some lechon sauce or along with another main breakfast dish.
We’re now on the part of this list where things are getting more creative and a little less what traditional recipes can be done using leftover lechon. Now, who doesn’t like a spicy kick in their pork dish once in a while? Bicol express is a spicy dish that originated in the region of Bicol known for its abundant use of chili fingers and dynamic spicey flavor.
Traditional recipes for the Bicol Express typical use pork but leftover roasted lechon can easily substitute for uncooked pork belly. Make sure to serve with plenty of rice and cold iced tea for those unaccustomed to hot foods.
Read further: Top 10 Bicolano Foods You Must Try
Pinakbet with lechon is a great example of a dish that’s a mixture of healthy and sinful ingredients. Hailing from the northern regions of the Philippines, pinakbet or pakbet is a healthy dish made up of green ingredients such as squash, eggplants, and okra. Shrimp paste is added to make the dish more savory.
For meat lovers looking to eat more healthy, pinakbet with lechon is a great alternative to make at home using leftover lechon to mix in with the healthy vegetable dish. Pinakbet can be served with rice or as a stand-alone meal or snack.
Along with lechon, palabok is a staple dish in celebrations but unlike lechon, it can also be an everyday meal for Filipinos. In fact, one of the most popular fast-food chain in the county, Jollibee, has palabok as a signature dish on its menu.
The sight along of this noodle dish screams party, with its bright orange color, multiple toppings baby shrimps, slices of boiled eggs, minced spring onions, chicharon, and why not add leftover lechon to the mix? To make the roasted lechon spicy, frying it in a kawali with oil will do the trick.
See also: Palabok With Lechon Carajay Recipe