The immortal bagnet

The immortal bagnet

I wish I could claim that I cooked this tantalizing slab of pork with crackling blistered skin but I didn’t. We spent our last hours in Vigan scouring the shops along Calle Crisologo. It was Saturday morning and there seemed to be more food items for sale than during the previous nights. There was bagnet everywhere.

What is bagnet? It is boiled and deep-fried pork belly. Just like lechon kawali, what distinguishes bagnet from other fried pork dishes is the tremendously blistered skin which literally transforms the pork skin into crackling.

Unlike lechon kawali, however, which is deep fried at a very high temperature only until the skin is blistered and the meat is lightly browned, bagnet is fried longer — achieving the same blistered skin but with a well-browned, drier and crispier exterior portion of the meat. When freshly cooked, the well-browned portion of the meat is quite delightful to eat. But, after a few hours, it turns tough and leathery.

It took us about twelve hours to drive from Vigan to Manila (with several stops in La Union in search of accommodations since we really didn’t want to make the twelve-hour drive) and, by the time we got home, the bagnet naturally was no longer in its prime.

Ilocano bagnet

The most common way to “refresh” bagnet is to chop and fry the pork in a little oil and sprinkling it with salt and pepper — much like how one would fry day-old lechon. I did that to a portion of the bagnet. But not to the entire slab. I had other ideas — a stir-fry and a soup.

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  • http://none Crisma

    That tantalizing last photo– is that BAGSILOG??? ;)

    • Connie

      Yep, made at home! :D

      • Jewel Minlorry

        Good day Ma’am! I’ve been a lurker at your site for months now. I’ve tried cooking some of your recipes and let me say, they’re delicious! They are fuss free but without worries that the taste would be compromised. My family loves them!
        Anyway, I had fun reading your Ilocos-La Union-Baguio Escapades. I could relate to a lot of things from them. You see, I was born and raised in Ilocos Norte and I went to college in Baguio and at present, we are temporarily based here. Last year, myself, my husband and my 7-year old son went to Vigan for a short sightseeing and we also stayed at the Salcedo de Vigan Hotel. Did you try their Sinigang na Bagnet there?
        Hope you had the chance to taste Batac Miki and Empanada when you were in Ilocos Norte!
        More power and keep ‘em good foods coming! :D

        • Connie

          No, we didn’t get to try the sinigang at Hotel Salcedo. We were tempted to try the bagnet kare-kare though but the meal would have been too heavy!

          We only had a part of the afternoon to spend in Laoag and the priority was Cape Bojeador. So, regretfully, we weren’t able to go around in Batac. Next time though! :)

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  • natz sm

    Hello Ms. Connie,

    Although bagnet is really best eaten freshly cooked (with a side dish of kamatis, sibuyas and bagoong balayan), we stock up and freeze 1/4 kilo slabs to be used for pinakbet and guinisang monggo whenever we have the opportunity to get this delicacy. It really gives those two dishes a delicious flavor that you can not get from just sauteing pork.

  • chubba’s momma

    bagnet = happiness!

  • Blackwidow

    I tried your oil-less lechon kawali, using the turbo broiler. The result was good. I got the blistered skin, allright and it was very crunchy. My sister who spent Holy Week in Vigan, remarked when she tasted my turbo lechon kawali: “parang bagnet.”

    Since I discovered your blog, I have been its constant reader and I am learning so much from it. In fact, I changed the orientation of the furniture in our sala, after reading your blog about defining your living room and dining room. I mean, there are other ways to arrange the furniture other than what I had for the past 7 years! I have tried too most of the recipes posted, they are doable, and tasted good, one of which is the oil-less lechon kawali.

    You got me hooked. You are genuine.

  • Connie

    Bow! Glad to make someone feel good. :)