Sunday, July 21, 2013

Diplahan Lechon: The Best of Mindanao Lechon, Now in Manila

There's just something so cool about discovering new things, like experiencing and tasting the subtle regional nuances in something so familiar and ubiquitous as the lechon. And just when you thought you've tasted every lechon variation, here comes yet another regional specialty from way down south that offers yet another new flavor, and another perspective on the native lechon. 

No real feast can be considered truly Filipino without lechon, and our regional diversity adds a culinary richness to this all-time favorite. And in the municipality of Diplahan in Zamboanga, comes a unique version of lechon perfected by generations of the best local lechoneros. And true to its name, Diplahan Lechon offers  a taste of the region's best kept secret.

Diplaham Lechon's secret lies in the meticulous preparation, draining, and roasting of the pig resulting in tender, moist meat with a layer of perfectly crisp skin. The pig is stuffed with lemon grass and secret herbs and spices that give it a distinct richness in flavor, so rich you don't really need any sauce or condiment like the more common and familiar lechon of Luzon. To preserve the culinary heritage and its link with Diplahan, part of the proceeds are given back to the community in Zamboanga.

The slow roasting process is tedious and laborous, as the pig is manually turned based on the experienced eye of the lechonero. The lechon is then basted with a marinade of secret herbs and spices during the roasting process, adding to the layers of flavors.

As the lechon is slowly turned, the intense heat from the charcoal adds yet another layer of flavor. Patience is definitely key, and this is slow food at its best. A few cold beers should help settle you down...

And as the day slowly fades, the lechon is finally ready. Bong, Diplahan Lechon's master lechonero, prepares to chop some prime cuts, starting with the belly, where all the flavors of the stuffing, including the lemon grass and a variety of herbs and spices, are concentrated.

Fresh from the charcoal pit, the moist, tender pork belly and crisp lechon skin is then served. Immediately, one notices that each slice is incredibly moist, as the aroma slowly fills the room. I down another beer to restrain myself from diving right in...

The richly flavored lechon is great as is, but if you're looking for a condiment, then a specially blended vinegar is the way to go. The sweet and sour vinegar has a deliciously sharp and distinct note that contrasts with the richness of the lechon, the way they do it in the town of Diplahan. The regional style and flavor is definitely different and unique, one of the best lechons I've tried.

A few chunks of pork belly with a layer of crisp skin, paired with steamed white rice and vegetables...just can't get any better than that. Unlike other lechons, Diplahan Lechon's crisp outer skin is thin and light, with just a thin layer of fat for that buttery flavor.  At one point, my eyes were closed while enjoying the tender, moist pork and the deliciously crisp skin...but no worries, it's a pretty common reaction to pure pork bliss.

Each tender chunk of lechon is perfectly seasoned without overwhelming the subtle flavor of the pork, with just the right amount of saltiness. Each bite then slowly releases the flavors of the secret herbs and spices, as well as a refreshing hint of lemon grass.

Halfway through the meal, our hosts at Diplahan Lechon deep-fried the remaining lechon skin for a plate of incredibly crisp cracklings that paired well with the special vinegar blend. Another round of beer? Definitely.

Sampling Diplahan Lechon was an experience that ranks way up there, and proof of our rich culinary heritage and diversity. To the staff of Diplahan Lechon, Bravo...and my sincere thanks for bringing the best of Mindanao closer to home.

To order Diplahan Lechon, simply call Carol at 0917-826-8010 or Wee at 0917-826-8017. You can also check out Diplahan Lechon's Facebook Page at Lechon. Prices for Diplahan Lechon range from P 6,500 (10-12 kilos), P 7,500 (15-18 kilos), and P 8,500 (20 kiloa and above).

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  1. yummy looking.. it makes my tummy full

  2. your photos are awesome!!! :) I had a hard time taking photos that night... haha. Cheers Gerry! :)

    Between Bites

  3. Oh man! I can't wait to get back home and eat lechon!

    1. And you should definitely try Diplahan Lechon, definitely one of the best in the metro. Great to hear from you bud!


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