Lechon Kawali , a classic Filipino dish, is deep fried pork belly that’s crispy and melts in your mouth. This is one that will have you hooked from the first bite. I am always looking for ways to make healthier, less-greasy versions of Filipino food, and this Air Fryer Lechon Kawali is the real deal. You can’t even tell it’s not deep fried!
I was excited to make this dish so I headed out to my favorite Filipino grocery store, Island Pacific Market on Atlantic Ave. in Long Beach, and asked the butcher to cut 5 pounds of pork belly rib into 3-inch thick cubes for me. I prefer cooking cubed pork versus chopping up a slab of pork belly after it’s cooked so each piece crisps evenly in the air fryer. It also cuts down on the cooking time. If you can’t find pork belly rib, boneless pork belly is a good alternative. Either one works just as fine. Five pounds may sound like a lot, but once cooked almost half of the fat from the pork belly will be drained in the air fryer so don’t try to cut this recipe in half.
Cooking Lechon Kawali, whether deep fried or using the air fryer, consists of two steps. First, the pork is boiled until tender in basic spices such as onion, garlic, black pepper, bay leaf and salt. Most of these you probably already have in your pantry. The second step is frying the drained and cooked pork until crispy.
Lechon Kawali is best eaten dipped in Mang Tomas seasoning (a sweet and tangy Filipino sauce) or my Spiced Vinegar with a side of piping hot rice. Yum! This recipe was so good Will and I ate it all in a day.
If you surprisingly have leftovers, Lechon Kawali can easily be reheated in the toaster oven for a few minutes before eating.
Air Fryer Lechon Kawali
- 5 pounds pork belly rib, cube cut approximately 3-inches thick
- 2 pieces dried bay leaves
- 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 red onion, halved
- 5 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp sea salt
- 6 cups water
In a large pot, place pork belly, bay leaves, black pepper, red onion, garlic and salt. Stir to combine.
Turn on heat to medium high and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium an continue to boil for 45 - 60 minutes until pork is fork tender.
Layer paper towels on a chopping board and place cooked pork belly on top. Pat dry.
Preheat air fryer at 400F for 5 minutes.
Cook pork belly in 2 batches so pieces do not overlap. This allows for even cooking.
Cook for 15 minutes at 400F for 15 minutes. Flip.
Cook the other side for another 15 minutes.
Serve with lechon sauce or spicy vinegar and rice.