Also known as the lechon asado, lechona is a famous Columbian dish that is generally served on very special occasions. Deeply rooted in the South American style of cooking, the lechona is mainly composed of a stuffed whole pig, filled with green onions, yellow rice, peas and other seasonings and spices to then be roasted to perfection.
Lechona also means “suckling pig”, which perfectly describes the main ingredient of the dish. The dish is usually served with arepas (corn-made bread) and insulsos (sweet corn tamales) as a side dish. Lechona was said to have originated from the interior part of Columbia called Departments of Tolima and it is popular at places within the vicinity of that region.
On special occasions, one plate of lechona is able to serve a party with a lot of people as the pig can be sliced to up to 100 portions. Along the streets of Tolima, you will see a whole pig being roasted in the open air, ready to be served to any patrons that craves for its savoury flavours.
What is a Lechona?
A whole pig is the main feature of the lechona. The whole pig will then be stuffed with an abundance of ingredients, which includes rice, yellow peas, green onions and other seasonings and spices, such as potatoes, salt and pepper.
The pig’s meat is usually removed during the process of stuffing the pig, leaving the skin and some parts of the meat behind for an easier stuffing process. The pig will then be roasted to a crispy golden brown colour for several hours (up to 10 to 12 hours) in an outdoor brick oven till it is tender enough to be consumed.
The crispy golden brown colour of the whole pig will make any meat-lovers drool. The pig’s skin has a crispy feel to it and also a delectable taste when it is cooked properly. Paired with arepas and insulsos, you will get a classic full meal, the Colombian way.
History of Lechona
During the Spanish conquest, the Spaniards introduced a simpler version of lechona, which is just roasted pig, to Colombia. It was said that the Spaniards learned the dish from the Arabic people, but it was without any fillings.
The locals then decided to add the stuffings into the roasted pork, such as peas, which is a staple food in Colombia to the dish and also other ingredients. The Colombian touch made the lechona to what it is today, and it is an important food to the local Colombian people.
The Prominence of Lechona
The rise of popularity of lechona has resulted in many places in Colombia, such as in Bogotá, Cundinamarca and Boyacá to adopt lechona as part of Colombian cuisine and a staple food to the locals.
Today, Bogotá is known as the “lechona zone” as you can find an abundance of street vendors selling lechona for your immediate consumption. At a popular street in the city of Bogotá, you can even find at least 30 street vendors competing to sell their delectable lechona, for an affordable price that will not burn a hole in your wallet.
Ever since then, the lechona has become widespread within the interior region of Colombia. There are some slight variations between lechona, which may differ between regions. In Tolima, the lechona is cooked without rice unlike in Bogotá, that cooks the lechona with rice to balance out the taste of pork.
Where to find Lechona in Malaysia
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