How Well Do You Know Your Chicharon?October 20, 2014
Whether enjoyed with your favorite beer, brought home after a grocery run, or included among the essential Pinoy party dishes, chicharon has and always will be part of the Filipino’s daily or occasional food ritual. Some of us favor the crispy thin skin of a cocktail chicharon, while others prefer the harder but saltier bite of chicharon na laman. Chicharon originated from Andalucia, Spain (where it’s spelled as chicharrón) and other variations of this familiar snack can be had as well in Latin American countries such as Cuba, Guatemala, Peru, and Argentina.
1. Cocktail Chicharon
The chicharon we usually snack on is referred to as “cocktail chicharon” at R. Lapid’s, highlighting this variant as one of the best types of pulutan. The pig skin is deep fried so that it’s thick enough to give that satisfying crack upon each bite. The crispy pig skin is savory on its own, but soak each piece in vinegar to make it a little tender for continuous consumption. Monterey also sells its own variant of pig skin chicharon in salted and chili vinegar flavors. For a cheaper yet just as tastier fix, pop by the convenience store and hoard a few bags of Chicharon ni Mang Juan.
2. Chicharon with Laman
These are the pork rinds that are a bit tougher but much tastier from the first bite to the last smack on your lips. The addition of fat and meat to the deep frying process lets you enjoy pork in all its dangerous yet delicious glory. Each piece curls up more than the cocktail chicharon, since the former only contains the pork skin and not the fat. Apart from Lapid’s, Guby’s Chicharon Espesyal at SM Bicutan serves 50g to 1kg of Chicharon Laman. In the States, Filipinos can always return to the taste of home with Elena’s Lapid Chicharon and its “May-Laman” and “Mini May-Laman” varieties.
3. Chicharon with Special Laman
R. Lapid’s gives double the meat, plus the pork fat and skin in the chicharon with special laman. Pork loin bits are deep fried to give a crunchier texture to most Filipino’s favorite “ulam.” For a truly special kind of “laman,” visitors to Cebu can indulge in the deep fried pig skin from Germany or Belgium in Zubuchon’s own chicharon, which promises actual meat to each bite.
4. Chicharon Bilog
Chicharon Bilog lets you enjoy pork belly with thicker and saltier pieces to bite into. This variation is recommended for those who want something fuller in each crunch.
5. Chicharon Bulaklak
I grew up accompanying my mom to most of her grocery runs and she’d always end the trip by buying herself a bag of peanuts. These salty peanuts also happened to be right beside an entire glass showcasing my favorite chicharon of them all: chicharon bulaklak. A tiny bag of this deep-fried ruffled fat never seemed enough. You can’t miss these stalls after exiting the supermarket counter: just follow the scent of those roasted peanuts.
6. Chicharon Bituka
Offal doesn’t always have to be prepared over a grill; chicharon bituka or deep fried pork intestine is enjoyed in bite-sized bits. Guby’s Chicharon Espesyal also sells bituka at 30g as large as 1KG weights. Choose according to your desired heart attack.