(Roberta Deen) The partners and staff of Cutting Board Filipino Gastropub in Las Vegas have mastered the cooking and drama of lechon (pork). They even arrayed the Crispy Lechon Kawali (deep-fried pork belly) into bite-sized logs to make them easy to eat.
Meaty pork belly rests overnight in a brine of vinegar and spices, is slow-simmered until tender, sliced into logs or batons, then deep-fried immediately. Tender and melting on the inside and perfectly crisp on the outside. The dish is served with a mango-cabbage salad dressed in fresh lime and vinegar which is a counter-balance to the rich pork. The full order would make a nice appetizer for four and an entree for two.
Moving on down the pig to the upper leg, Barry, Momma Glo and Tiffany have created a marrow lover’s dream. The Roasted Bone Marrow is a long leg bone halved lengthwise (rendering the entire marrow accessible with no digging in little round bone towers), topped with garlic butter, herbs and Parmesan then roasted. The fragrant bones are presented with slices of garlic toasted baguette and a variation of the cabbage salad with tender lemon grass and mango, just the right note against the rich marrow. The taste may be a bit unexpected with its decidedly French flavor notes, but the French were a major influence in Filipino cuisine along with the Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and the Portuguese. This dish would easily serve four as an appetizer.
Then on down to the limit of the leg – The Crispy Pata. The entire shank and foot are brined in the same vinegar and spice mix as the Crispy Lechon Kawali, slowly boiled three to four hours until very tender. Then the pata is deep-fried in hot, hot oil until the skin is crisp.
You can hear the snap and crackle when the very dramatic presentation is placed in front of you. Eat it quickly before it cools to get the full benefit of the “concert”. A fine dish for sharing with a crowd of friends and a frosty San Miguel beer at the communal tables while watching a big screen sporting event.
This is the ultimate set of pork dishes, equal in drama and satisfaction to the best American-style barbecue. They are an ideal introduction to an ethnic cuisine that is now gaining an audience in this country.
Cutting Board Filipino Gastropub., 2131 Rock Springs Drive, Las Vegas, 89928. 702.233.9838.