If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down.
Brace yourself. This will be a long post since I am going to take you to a memory lane where names and memories from the past are reminisced and shared.
When I was in college, which was a very loooooooong time ago, there was no ATM nor bank to bank deposit yet. So, my mom sent my monthly sustenance/allowance by boat.( I can just imagine you calculating how this long time ago means.) My mom sent my allowance through Toto. Now, it is official, the long time ago means during the inception of Dorothy from Wizard of OZ – that was during 16-00 —–when Dorothy’s dog, Toto existed. No, this is not Toto the dog but Toto the name of the man who is the bearer of my treasure. Each month, by instinct, I go to Pier 3 (where the boat dock), and here I am accepting the treasure that was handed to me. I was instantly rich! Oh my, as I was writing this line, I am kind of embarrassed on how ancient that time was.
Now, what should I do with all the money? I go to a restaurant named Broadway This restaurant had tons of Filipino foods lined up in it counter: lechon, (whole roasted pig), pancit ( noodles), adobo, sweet and sour dinuguan ( blood stew?) and all types of different foods. Last but not the least, lechon kawali. Their lechon kawali was so crispy and delicious that I frivolously spent my whole month’s allowance in that place. Pretty much, I had nothing left in that allowance when I got out from that restaurant. It was that good,that I am willing to get hungry throughout the month.
I did not really get to learn to cook lechon kawali when I was in the Philippines. I just learned it when I moved here in the US. Before, I cooked the meat by deep frying and it was an agony to do this. Hot oil splattered everywhere and my arms, neck and face never came out not burned; so I refrain from cooking it until Amy, my good friend, told me to bake and broil it. I am going to share to you how to do just that.
On another note, Tien is not actually a fish sauce brand but a human who happens to work with my husband. He is an young engineer. He was born in Vietnam and moved here in the US when he was 12 years old. He interned in Bombardier (my husband’s workplace) and he got hired after graduating. That is an amazing feat for a young kiddo like him. Currently, Tien had just clenched the “nook of fame in my house.” This means he is ever present in every lecture I give to my children. Aside from my husband, he is the other guy who I want my children to emulate. Being an engineer, I thought he is smart too. Honestly, I think engineers are smarter than the rest of us. Imagine making a living by solving problems, analyzing and doing those through numbers, and doing these everyday, that is something else.
One day, Tien gave my husband a white squash ( upo in Filipino) which he got from his parents garden .It was as tall as I am, that I do not know what else to do with it. He is generous guy. He also gave my husband this fish sauce recipe which I appropriately called Tien’s sauce in his honor…
When my husband came home from work one day, he cannot stop raving a certain sauce that Tien brought to work. I was surprised that somebody will bring a fish sauce at work. In the cafeteria. Should I say, how brave is that? With this, I pretty much conclude that Tien is a courageous guy who doesn’t mind what people think of him. If you have smelled fish sauce aroma, you will understand why I said this.
Lechon Kawali Recipe and Tien Sauce
2 lbs pork belly slice in a long 1″ strips. (have the butcher do it for you or you can do it yourself) It should be bacon size length but 1 1/2 ” to 2 ” thick.
2 tbsp salt
5 cloves garlic
3 tbsp sugar
Bit of chili pepper ( depending on how spicy you want it)
2 cups Fish Sauce ( Make sure that the sauce is the one pictured above. It is available in Asian store. It has different tastes from Rufina and Teparos brand)
- Lechon Kawali
- Put water, salt and meat in the pan and bring to a boil and cook until soft. When done, let it cool and place in a zip loc. Refrigerate until you are ready to cook it.
- Preheat oven at 350 F
- Place pork belly in a baking pan line with the oil drain and bake for 1 hour to remove the excess oil of the meat.
- Change oven setting to 405 F
- Continue baking the meat until belly looks like there are “bubbles” in the pork skin. This usually take around 1 hour. ( I prefer to do this process longer because I want a crispy Lechon Kawali)
- Then change setting to low broil and broil the meat for 15 minutes
- NOTE: When you change the setting to broil, make sure that you will not burn the meat because this can easily happen. So watch it. This will make add crunch to the meat. If the meat is getting burn, just stop the broiling and you can start slicing the meat and start serving it.
- Tien Sauce:
- Crush the garlic and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Place into a bottle or a container. Refrigerate.
If you prefer to just try the sauce first, make a smaller batch and just tweak the ingredients depending on how you want the sauce to taste.
Tien’s sauce is perfect for any dish like fried fish, grilled fish grilled chicken but the sauce fits like a glove when paired with lechon kawali. It is like pea in a pod comb