Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Missing Home (and Three Ways of Finding Your Way Back)

A table showcasing the ingredients for a roasted turkey at the grocery store made me realize that the Holidays are here again. You see, I have mixed emotions about the holidays. One is that it's the most "merry" of times, while it also reminds me of holidays past--- and yes it makes me miss home a lot!

Home for me is the Philippines where I grew up, where my parents and all my siblings still reside in (except for my sister in Orlando) and where my roots are. Although, Thanksgiving is an American Holiday, it's still a reminder that Christmas is just around the corner. It's been 10 years since I spent Christmas in the Philippines. The only way I could bring myself closer to home is thru ... TRADITIONAL FOOD! Indeed eating traditional home cooked food is like getting a hug from home, it is PRICELESS.

Holidays in my home country are typically marked by having a lechon (roast pig) to feast on. And being surrounded by the holiday festivities at the grocery store, I started craving for ... LECHON! Whenever I crave for lechon, I make my own version, a "somewhat close to" lechon. And it is also comforting that to re-create my own "lechon" doesn't take a fortune to do so. For one, pork butt or pork shoulder is only $0.99/lb. With a currently tight budget, that's like a gift from heaven for me. And I tell you to create this dinner, all it took me was less than $10.00.

So last night, I made my version of lechon (minus the whole pig) by baking 4 lbs of pork shoulder. And funny how I was telling my hubby how I used the lechon as a metaphor about life. You see my family approaches our lechon meal differently. My kids rarely eat rice these days, and they don't eat the skin/fat either. So I made them the Soft Taco Lechon Wrap. For me, I go for a low-carb diet, so I made myself the Lechon Lettuce Wrap. My husband, who can't survive without rice, had his the traditional way, with lots of crispy skin, meat and fat covered with lechon sauce (a liver-based sauce much like gravy). Again going back to the metaphor, eating lechon can be as varied as how each one of us approaches life! LOL! That could be a different blog altogether but for now, let me share with you how we enjoyed our lechon--- 3 ways: Lechon with rice, Lechon Lettuce Wrap and Soft Taco Lechon Wrap.

Lechon ala Impromptu Diva


4 lbs Pork butt or pork shoulder
salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic
2 stalks of lemongrass


Pound the lemongrass, rub it on to the pork. Mince the garlic and mix it together with salt and pepper. Rub it on to the pork. Let it stand for about 2 hours (but it's better if you leave it overnight). Bake it at 375F for about 3 hours or when the skin gets golden brown and very crispy. Voila it's done. (I even went walking while my lechon was cooking).

We shared the same lechon, however enjoyed it in 3 different ways...oh yes it did bring us HOME!

3 ways to enjoy it:
1. Slice the lechon as is and with lechon sauce and rice... and my hubby gave me the oh so delish thumbs up.
2. Lechon Lettuce Wrap:
I chopped the lechon, with the crispy skin and tender juicy meat and scooped a spoonful of my homemade atchara (yes folks I make my own atchara and I go to the post office daily to mail since i started doing it last week).

3. Soft Taco Lechon Wrap:
I sliced the lechon meat (took out the visible fat) into strips and put it on a soft taco shell with hoisin sauce and strips of cucumber and green onions/onion leeks.

here's a link to see more pics about this blog.


  1. Same here. It's been 8 years since I went home to the Phil. Definitely miss Lydias's lechon. One time we bought a whole lechon in New Jersey and it cost us $100+.
    Very expensive. I do it the same way you do minus the lemon grass. Do you use an instant thermometer to see if it's done? I'll try putting lemon grass on it if I'll make it again. I'll probably try making your lechon wrap too. Sound delish!

  2. Hi cookies and cream (i love ur name btw!) I used to do it without the lemon grass too but my sister in-law who is a caterer back home shared her "secret" with me... and i shared it here LOL! but the lemon grass gives enhances the flavor.
    I don't have a thremometer(good suggestion) When it's crispy, that's the time I take it out from the oven.
    Thanks for your comment... and welcome to my blog!

  3. teyene (aka thai-ene)November 5, 2009 at 2:40 PM

    LUV this... the lechon more than the blog. never thought lemon grass can be used for lechon!

  4. My day started great when I found a wonderful suprise in my mailbox this morning. A small box wrapped busily with bright yellow paper. Unfolding inside the bubble wrap was a cute jar with citrus hues of yellow, orange & red (corresponding smartly with the box's color). I can't wait to try my ATCHARA with the "Lechon Lettuce Wrap" Recipe. Thanks MALOU!

  5. thanks basil... im glad you got it in one piece. yeah i wrapped that with so much love LOL! let me know then after... enjoy!

  6. I will try this one as well. Just one question, does it make a difference if I use an electric oven vs. a gas oven? Mine is electric oven.

  7. hi ruby!
    thanks for dropping by... and yeah with regards to your question, I don't think it marrers. Im using electic as well. For as long as you follow the prescribed temperature you should be good. Let me know how it goes. Happy IMPROMPTU-ing!

  8. ruby, sorry for the typos, it's so hard typing in the dark. LOL!

  9. I wonder when you will start your resto business... since you are into haute cuisine. You have enough gourmet dishes to start with.

    Hmmm, the lemongrass took my fancy. Actually I started loving its scent on reed diffuser. Will try your recipe.

    Btw, I am rooting on your blog... the begining of something huge... in taste, not in weight, ha?

  10. Thanks Iyagirl! It has always been my dream to open my own restaurant but unfortunately, I don't see that coming anytime soon. Writing this blog is closest to that dream... hahaha. For as long as I have readers like you, I am inspired to write more. Stay tuned!


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