Deep-fried pork belly

Deep-fried pork belly

Lechon kawali

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

I once asked my cousin, King, what his favourite dish was. His awesome answer: ‘fried’.

King was eating lechon kawali, deep-fried pork belly, at the time. As with Crispy pata, ingredients are simple, but a number of steps are required for perfect blistered skin and soft fatty meat, including frying at different temperatures. An oil thermometer is essential. Lechon kawali is also the base of binagoongan and often paired with Liver sauce.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg boneless pork belly, skin on
1 onion, quartered
1/2 garlic bulb, cloves smashed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fine salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Garlic and vinegar dipping sauce, to serve
steamed rice, to serve


  1. To par-cook the pork, place it in a large saucepan and pour in enough cold water to cover. Bring to the boil over high heat, skimming any scum from the surface. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt and peppercorns. Cover the pan, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 hour, or until the meat is fork-tender. Using tongs, transfer the pork to a shallow dish and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight to dry. Strain the stock, discarding the solids, and freeze for another use, if desired.
  2. To deep-fry the pork, remove it from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 1 hour. Half-fill a large, deep saucepan or wok with vegetable oil and place over medium heat until it reaches 150ºC. Pat the pork dry with paper towel. Gently lower the pork, skin side down, into the hot oil and deep-fry for 10 minutes, or until the skin is slightly blistered. Remove from the oil, drain on paper towel, then cool for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, increase the heat to 190ºC. Deep-fry the pork for a further 5 minutes, or until the skin is really blistered and crisp and the meat is dark golden. Drain on paper towel, season with salt, then allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Using a large sharp knife, cut the pork into 2 cm lengths, then into 1.5 cm pieces. Serve immediately with steamed rice and dipping sauce.

What is it?

  • Depending on who you speak to, lechon kawali and bagnet are similar or two very different things. Lechon kawali takes its name from the wok (kawali) it is cooked in. Bagnet originates in Ilocos in the country’s north, where locals fry it at a lower temperature for longer so a thicker ‘crust’ forms; it is also served in bigger pieces and often with a salsa of tomato, onion and fish sauce.
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