Most Filipino celebrations show a variety of offerings. From vibrant fruit salad to the classic savory pancit, we are often faced with so many food options in gatherings. But one dish that almost never disappears from the selection is the classic lechon. Yet a part of the lechon that doesn’t get as much attention is the head or the “ulo.” What some people might not realize is that this part has one of the most favored aspects of lechon— the delightfully crunchy skin! That’s why Crispy Ulo and Lechon Sauce is hailed as a pretty good combination.
The sauce’s distinct salty-sweetness goes very nicely with the irresistible texture of Crispy Ulo. Another perk is that this part is often more affordable if you plan to buy some in the market. The key to making a great dish out of this is firstly, the flavorful sauce. But it’s also important to note that cooking it just right— in this case, we will be using a turbo broiler— would make all the difference. You’ll end up with audibly crunchy skin, and of course, that tender pork as the interior.
Let’s give it a try!
How to make Crispy Ulo ng Baboy:
We will begin by pouring 3 to 5 cups of water in a large cooking pot. Now take the pig head, and place it in the pot as well. Apply some heat so that the liquid can now boil. Once it starts boiling, you should let this cook with the cover on for 10 more minutes. After that, you can discard the water.
Now we will also pour around 3 to 5 cups of water in the pot. This time, we will also incorporate 2 bunches of lemongrass, 1 medium onion, and 5 pieces of laurel leaves. Then put the cover on. Let the pig head boil with the ingredients we just added for approximately 60 to 90 minutes. When you’re about midway done, you should turn the head over to cook it evenly. After that, discard everything but the pig head, which you should let cool.
Make cross-hatch incisions on the pig’s face with a sharp knife. Then take about 2 teaspoons of salt, and rub it all over the heat. Afterwards, let this air dry for a minimum of 3 hours. Take note that if we use a longer air drying process, we can expect better results and a more flavorful pig head. After that, rub about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil all over the pig head.
Then you can go ahead and arrange it inside the turbo broiler. We will broil this for 1 hour at °F. As we are letting this cook, we can start working on our thick, yummy sauce!
How to create Lechon Sauce:
Start by getting a cooking pot, and heating 3 tablespoons of oil in it. Now grab 7 ounces of pork liver you’ve sliced up, and add this to the mix. Sauté these together for 3 minutes. Then take the liver out, and put it inside a blender. We will pour 1 ¾ cups of water inside, and then proceed to purée this together. Set this aside for now.
Then take the remaining oil you have, and start sautéing ¼ cup of minced garlic, and 1 large onion together. Feel free to add more oil if needed. Once the oil has softened, this would be your signal to add 1 piece of laurel leaves and 1 teaspoon of whole peppercorn. Keep sautéing these ingredients for 1 minute.
After that, you should pour the liver purée we set aside earlier into the pot. Stir the mixture to distribute the components evenly, and then let this boil. When it starts boiling, you can pour 5 tablespoons of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce for added flavor as well. Then you should wait for the liquid to boil again. Once it does, you can start stirring. Also place 7 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, and stir this into the mixture. You’re nearly done!
Now just turn the heat off, and transfer the entire mixture back into the blender. Purée this for 1 minute, and then put it back into your cooking pot. Then boil the mixture. After that, simply season with your preferred amount of salt, and add ¼ cup of breadcrumbs. This will help thicken your sauce.
Putting it all together:
For the final step, all we have to do is get the cooked pig head, and arrange it nicely on our serving plate of choice. Now get your sauce you’ve just boiled, and serve it alongside the Crispy Ulo while it’s perfectly warm! This is the perfect dish to serve at a special occasion, or even for a special family lunch or dinner.
What did you think of this delectable Crispy Ulo and Lechon Sauce? I’d love to hear your feedback. And for any questions or suggestions, feel free to use the comments section below!
Crispy Ulo and Lechon Sauce
- 1/2 piece Pig head
- 2 bunches lemongrass
- 5 pieces laurel leaves
- 1 piece medium onion
- 3 quarts water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- Pour 3 to 5 cups of water in a large cooking pot and add the pig head. Let the liquid boil. Cook covered for 10 minutes. Discard the water afterwards.
- Pour around the same amount of water in the pot and add lemongrass, onion, and laurel leaves. Cover and boil the pig head with all the newly added ingredients for 60 to 90 minutes. You can turn the head over in the middle of the cooking process.
- Discard everything except the pig head. Let it cool down. Create cross-hatch incisions on the face of the pig using a sharp knife. Rub salt all over the head and let it air dry for at least 3 hours (the longer the air drying process, the better the result).
- Rub oil all over the pig head and arrange it inside a turbo broiler. Broil for 1 hour at 400F.
- Meanwhile, make the lechon sauce by heating 3 tablespoons of oil in a cooking pot. Add the sliced liver and saute for 3 minutes.
- Remove the liver from the pot and place inside the blender. Add water and then puree. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil (add more if needed). Saute garlic and onion until the onion softens. Add laurel leaves and whole peppercorn. Continue sauteeing for 1 minute.
- Pour the liver puree into the pot. Stir and let boil.
- Pour vinegar and soy sauce. Allow the liquid to reboil before stirring.
- Add brown sugar and stir. Turn the heat off and pour the entire mixture back into the blender. Puree for 1 minute.
- Pour the puree back into the cooking pot. Let it boil.
- Season with salt and add breadcrumbs to thicken the sauce.
- Arrange the crispy pig head on a serving plate and serve with lechon sauce on the side. Share and enjoy!