Lately there seems to be a conspiracy for pork belly recipes to overtake porn as the majority of internet traffic. Here’s my contribution.
This is only the second time I’ve cooked pork belly and I can see why it’s currently in vogue. Well, let’s be honest. David Chang probably has a lot to do with the recent surge in pork traffic on the internet. The current fashionability of this cut doesn’t seem to have influenced my local butchers though who are adamantly sticking with the tried and true chicken breasts, lamb chops and beef mince. Not that I’m complaining, I barely need an excuse to ride over to West End and picking up a big slab of belly from Hong Xuong is more than a sufficient reason.
This cut of meat is pretty damned rich and it’s really freaking delicious. Invite friends over. Like the Musketeers (all for one and one for all) you’ll each prevent one another from eating yourselves into a semi-comatose state, though not so much out of a genuine kinship but a combined effort of greedy self interest which should result in a lack of remaining pork provided you haven’t over catered.
The meat puts up barely any resistance to the onslaught of your enclosing teeth. The fat dissipates almost before you have time to savour it, coating your mouth in a deliciously sweet, oily film. Finally the skin puts up a decent fight eventually yielding with an audible crunch and a salty finish.
1kg (or so) slab of pork belly
wasabi, hoisin sauce to serve
You need a deep baking tray for this one. It should be deeper than your pork is tall because you want to fully submerge the meat in water.
1. Using an actually sharp knife, score the skin across the width down to but not including the flesh at about 2cm intervals.
2. Boil enough water to submerge the meat and mix in soy sauce, mirin and sugar to taste. For paranoia’s sake I’m going to tell you to taste it before you pour it over the meat.
3. Pour the liquid into the baking tray with the meat skin side up and cover with aluminium foil. Try not to pour directly onto the skin as it will cause it to shrink. Let it sit for about an hour like this.
4. Heat an oven to 160 celcius. Pour off liquid from the tray so around 2cm remains, or about halfway up the cut of meat. Cook it covered for two hours.
5. Remove the pork and pour off the remaining liquid. Increase the heat to 250 celcius. My oven heats up pretty quickly so I tend to just return the pork to the oven once I’ve poured off the liquid.
6. Heavily coat the pork skin with salt flakes and return uncovered to the oven. Cook until it’s done basically. You want it to be golden and crispy all over. If you have a knack for timing come back when it’s done, otherwise check it at some frequency relative to your level of anxiety.
Pops and sizzles will eminate from your oven along with a salivation inducing miasma.
Slice up the pork by continuing the score lines down through the cut of meat. Serve it in the baking tray in the backyard on a picnic rug with a lemonale each and plenty of sauce. Eat it with your hands and make sure you lick your fingers. Personally I love it with wasabi, spread thickly over the face of the slice. The pork fat and the wasabi mingle in some kind of yin yang sex in your mouth, each potentially overbearing flavour complimented perfectly by the other.