Looks like we made it through the holidays! It’s super funny how, like clockwork, we’re all trying to fit back into our favorite pairs of pants again. Yeah, it’s that time of year. *inhales deeply, buttons pants* Okay, are we good now?
As certain as holiday weight gain, you could count on seeing the inevitable second life of what once was a crispy golden slab of lechon. If you’ve never particularly believed in things like forgiveness, redemption, or in this case, second chances- allow me to tell the humble story of lechon paksiw.
The history of Filipino cuisine is a rich and complex one that encompasses hundreds of different regional tastes and cultures- all with their own unique character. Many of our favorite dishes are made with equal parts ingenuity and simple elegance using whatever was readily available- often for very practical reasons.
In a time before refrigeration, our early peasant societies would take to the use of salt or vinegar to make food last longer. While spoilage isn’t as much of an issue now, our collective tastes have come to crave the culinary gold they help create.
Paksiw, a process that involves simmering pretty much anything in vinegar, garlic and salt, has been around since pre-colonial times. Among other methods of food preparation, the method grew to be an incredibly popular way of lengthening meat’s shelf life.
Lechon on the other hand, is a delicacy found in many of Spain’s former colonies. With specially raised pigs roasted to a gorgeous golden brown color over red-hot coal, the dish is definitely a favorite the world over.
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This presents us with a bit of a problem though. A whole pig is a bit much for even reasonably sized parties to finish in one sitting. Sure, you could leave it out there and try to fight off any flies that come your way but would it really do justice to lechon’s immaculately crispy glory? Would you like to remember it that way?
Probably not. I hope not. Regardless, one of our clever ancestors put two and two together- tossing last night’s lechon into the pan for a good bit of paksiw lovin’. The rest is history, quite literally. Unlike other historical things though, this is a bit of history that you could probably pull out of your fridge at this very moment.
Cheers to the new year. The paksiw’s ready- always has been.