Chef Chung Yiu Ming
Originally from Hong Kong, he’s been the executive chef at Sheraton Towers’ Cantonese restaurant Li Bai since 2000.
Dedet de la Fuente
Known as the Lechon Diva, the self-taught chef has won awards and fans for her lechon stuffed with truffle rice.
Why is it the best?
Chef Chung Yiu Ming: Traditionally it was an auspicious dish that symbolised wealth as only the rich could afford it. It has since become synonymous with significant occasions. For me, it’s a dish that brings fond memories of eating at family events while growing up in Hong Kong. It’s such a big deal because it takes two days to prepare and is made using a piglet. That means the meat is exceptionally tender and juicy with crisp smoky skin.
Dedet de la Fuente: Lechon is the best dish to represent the Philippines because it’s the only dish that offers a feast in a single dish. As the Philippines is composed of 7,641 islands and 81 provinces, there are many different ways of cooking lechon, each using ingredients unique to that area. No food ever gets wasted. The leftover bones and meat are simmered in vinegar and lechon gravy to become another dish – paksiw na lechon.
What are the ingredients that make it so great?
Chef Chung Yiu Ming: At Li Bai we use a fermented beancurd and our own specially concocted five-spice powder which we use to marinate the pork for a whole day. Both ingredients elevate the flavours of the dish without overpowering the meat – but the real key is timing.
Dedet de la Fuente: In Cebu, lechon is usually stuffed with lemongrass, garlic and chillies, and is packed with flavour. For me, I combine modern ingredients with traditional cooking techniques. I stuff the lechon with food like crab fat rice with chorizo; garlic noodles with crab meat; and even truffle rice with foie gras.
Where is the best place to try the dish?
Chef Chung Yiu Ming: My favourites would be Yung Kee and Lei Garden restaurants which are both in Hong Kong. After all, this is the city where the dish originated.
Dedet de la Fuente: I’d have to say Pepita’s Kitchen by Lechon Diva. We cook it the traditional way – over hot charcoal using native piglets, so the skin is crisp with the least amount of fat, and the meat is tender.
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This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of Silkwinds magazine