Phat in the Phillipines: Epic Pig Roast at Casa Balbina

There were a lot of things I wanted to do in the Phillipines – see my friend; Anton, lie on a beach, get scuba certified… but most importantly.. I really wanted to see a whole pig being roasted. And then eat it. Ravenously. Luckily for me, my good friend and host, Anton, does this often with his family and was able to arrange a roast during my visit. And so we packed a weekend bag (of elastic waist pants and gut-shielding tops) and headed out to his family’s farm 40 minutes outside of Manila.


Anton failed to mention that his family’s farm, known as Casa Balbina, is paradise. The old farmhouse sits just off the main road, and features some of the most gorgeous light fixtures and original wooden floors I’ve ever seen. We had the pleasure of staying overnight in the farmhouse.

breakfast pandesal
The whole pig roast process would begin early the next morning. Of course we couldn’t start the next day without a bit of breakfast.. sticky rice steamed in banana leaves, eaten with a touch of sugar and freshly baked pandesal. After breakfast, a small pig was slaughtered and prepped for the roast. Have you ever seen a pig being driven? Well, this is what it looks like:

lechon roast phillipines pig
These fellas took turns sitting around and carefully turning the pig on a 10ft long spit. A steering wheel ingeniously attached to the end made for convenient roasting. Every once in awhile, the pig was brushed with palm fronds to redistribute the juices over the skin – resulting in this:

lechon roast phillipines pig
Golden SKIN!

filipino blood cake chicken soup
To go with the lechon, we had a couple more amazing dishes – one being this fantastic blood cake and chicken soup. The soup was a little sour and tangy, with plenty of ginger giving the dish its kick. Chunks of bone in chicken and cakes made with pigs blood and rice made it super hearty. I wanted more but I knew I had to save room for the lechon…

lechon roast pig phillipines
The main course – tender, fall of the bone, moist, fatty, succulent, ridiculously good roasted pork. Served with plenty of lechon sauce – a slightly sweet and tangy sauce flavored with the liver of the pig and thickened with breadcrumbs.

lechon roast pig phillipines
Of course the best part is the crispy skin – and there was plenty of it!

Thank you Anton for the fattest, most amazing food experience ever!

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4 comments

  1. That looks just awesome!
    As I’m sure you know, all this has a lot of Spanish: we got the “cerdo lechón” meaning suckling pig in Spanish (I remember your post from Casa Botín in Madrid), and the blood and rice cake, we call it “morcilla de arroz” in Spain, meaning “rice blood sausage”.
    All of it then integrated in the Filipino tradition, with the south east asian cooking marvels, ginger, spices, sticky rice, argh!
    Makes me salivate.
    Nice post!

  2. Leykwon the Chef

    yum! thanks for cluing me in, morcilla de arroz – so fantastic, i wish i could have it again!

  3. YES! it does look awesome! I think id enjoy the beakfast most though!

  4. Yummy.

    Makes me long for the days when our neighbors and best friends were an elderly couple from the Phillipines. My wife and I were poor college students and these wonderful people took pity on use and served us dinner like this at least once a week.

    I really miss them.

    - M


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