Bagnet: Deep-fried Crispy Pork
Don’t judge deep-fried crispy pork by its appearance. Most Filipinos will easily recognize lechon kawali at first sight. This popular dish is made up of pan-fried pork belly that’s cooked to achieve a crackling crisp of the pork skin. But not all deep-fried crispy pork are the same, certainly not the Bagnet.
Bagnet is the Ilocano version of lechon kawali and is quite popular in the Ilocos region in west Northern Philippines. What distinguishes bagnet is how it is prepared and cooked. It is deep-fried twice and the pork is usually browned more than the lechon kawali. To give this dish its unique quality, it is usually served with fish paste (bagoong) and tomato and onion salsa, along with a sprinkling of sukang Iloko, or Ilocano vinegar. Bagnet is great as an appetizer or as a main dish accompanied by fresh or cooked vegetables and steamed rice. Here, I served it with steamed chopped bokchoy. The rice is combined with sprouted grains.
2. lbs. pork belly (whole cut)
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp sea salt
2 dried bay leaves
2 cups Olive oil for frying
1 tsp dried cilantro
Wash pork belly and place in a large deep pan. Add water to fully cover the pork. Add in salt, pepper, bay leaves, garlic and dried cilantro. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 45-60 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Using a small knife, fork or ice pick, prick the surface of the pork skin several times (this will help bring out the blisters when frying the pork). Refrigerate the pork overnight, or at least 3 hours. Heat large deep pan over low heat. Add Olive oil, making sure the pork is completely submerged in oil. Fry for about 30 minutes or until the pork turns golden brown. Remove pork from pan and drain excess oil. Allow pork to cool completely. Reheat the same oil, this time over medium heat and fry the pork again for 15 minutes, until pork skin becomes crisp and blisters start to appear. Remove from heat and drain excess oil using paper towels. Chop pork into serving or bite pieces.