Lechon Wraps - Super Thin Pancakes with Roast Pork
Yesterday was one of the happiest days of my life! By noon, we went to an unassuming neighborhood to have the best gastronomic experience to date! There, waiting for us is a whole roast pork for us to take home; golden and crackling!
This roast pork was already planned by my dad months ago as a special treat for the whole family. Roast pork is called Lechon/Litson here and is considered a national dish here. It is a popular status symbol back then and often the importance of the occasion is measured by its presence. Though full of fat and cholesterol, it was so delicious and having it once in a while is a real treat. Most lechon came from commercial farms who employed vitamins and feeds for the pigs and large companies roast thousands using modern machinery. It's our first time to have a pork roasted for ourselves; we only have them in parties/dinners/celebrations of friends and relatives and occasionally by the kilo from the market. Dad just learned the best kept secret of roast pork so we tried it for first our roast ever.
Organic lechon is still not widely known here and only a few gets to enjoy its exceptional flavor. By late August, dad talked to a friend who is a pig raiser who is expecting a litter of piglets. We get to choose first the piglet that we want then every month we pay for his labor and the food for the piglet; we basically sponsor the piglet's needs for its entire life. The pig's food is very cheap since it's organic; just rice bran, vegetables, tender branches and leaves and fruits; it makes them very easy to grow but it also makes them slow to gain size. It's simple diet of plants is characteristic of its breed which came from the wild mountain hogs of the country. It is our native pig and very different from the commercial breeds, they are black, smaller and some have tusks making them resemble warthogs and wild boars.
Four months later when the piglet was already 15 kilos (this size could easily feed 10 people and there were only three of us eating it!), we made a trip to the Lechonero/Litsonero that my dad's friend knew and we negotiated the price for roasting the piglet. We made a good compromise since they will take care of all the process from slaughter to roasting. We really made a good choice, this man has enjoyed an excellent reputation for a good number of years, even decades!
This lechon is really artisanal from piglet selection to its diet to the roasting process. We patiently waited for four months so we entrusted this to only the best! After it was cleaned, it was skewered into a bamboo pole and aromatic herbs where stuffed into the cavity then rubbed with a secret blend of spices. It was then roasted, manually hand turned for two hours over coals until cooked and crisp. This is the secret to the proper taste of lechon, how lechon should taste!
We got home with the pig still hot from the fresh roast and we ripped it apart with our bare hands! We first went for the crispy skin, at the slightest tap of the fingers it splintered and shattered into crispy sheets! Oh my, it's pure bliss! The whole family is partaking it without hesitation, fat drips from our lips and fingers to our clothes but we don't care!
This organic lechon (pig) really puts other lechon to shame! What I enjoyed back then seems like cardboard to me now. Daddy really knows best. The skin is super crispy and the meat is firm but tender and the fat is very thin, flavorful and meltingly tender that you will not think twice to eat it even if you know it's fat! It's good that the lechonero seasoned the pork well but what really sets it apart is intense porky flavor that you cannot find in other pigs; hot, cold, or room temperature, that flavor is present even in the deepest parts of the meat where virtually no seasoning could reach. The innards were also great, cooked simply in garlic and vinegar and of course; the liver sauce made from the pig's own liver was exceptional!
We already had the best part, when it was freshly roasted and the skin was very crisp we ate it on it's own and stuffed ourselves to capacity to take advantage of its best quality and our excitement and to savor its pure flavor without the sauce, then at night we ate it with rice and the sauce to stretch it a little since we're already satisfied with the earlier binge! Since it is large and we cannot finish it on the same day, we froze left overs to be eaten for the next couple of days with various dishes to stem from it from sandwiches to stew to soup.
It's the best I've had and what makes it even more special is I had it out of my Father's love.
Weeks prior to the roast feast, I have already settled that I will serve the lechon in a different way than the usual with rice since this was special by serving it a la Peking Duck! Crispy skin is one of the main features of Peking duck and lechon boasts it too so I think it's a great way to highlight the crispy skin!
I have never had a Peking duck but I saw them served with thin pancakes, cucumbers, scallions and sweet bean sauce. I've also seen some served with steamed buns but I think the thin pancakes will complement the texture and flavor better than steamed buns. After some search, I've found a recipe for them with a very interesting technique. Sandwiches of dough are rolled flat, dry-fried, separated into halves then steamed.
They have to be really thin to have the right texture, chewy yet delicate and this can only be achieved by that technique. Luckily, I've managed to make them very thin even without a proper rolling pin, I just used a steel pipe that is not even perfectly flat. I hope I could improve them more next time. Still not bad, it's thin enough for light to pass through.
How I wish that I served them yesterday when the skin was perfectly crisp but I really don't have the energy to make bread following a sleepless night because of a bad acid reflux attack on Monday night. Today, the skin is not crispy anymore so I fried it and voila! It's crisp again but different. It's close to a lecharon portmanteau of lechon and chicharon, fried pork rinds. I can't emphasize this enough but I think it's really best if we had eaten this yesterday but even though it tastes different, there's nothing to complain! I served it just with cucumber because I was skeptical about the scallions, I don't know if it will complement the lechon flavor.
Interactive dining is one of my most anticipated parts of a meal, it just makes the experience more fun and I think is best while chatting with friends and family. Let me take you to one of the highlights of our lunch today!
Thank you very much!
Lay the pancake on a plate.
Put a piece of juicy meat with fat.
Add a piece of cucumber for that refreshing flavor and crunch.
Do not forget that crispy pork skin!
Drizzle a little of the mandatory liver sauce...
Roll and Enjoy!!!