Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm really porking up

On Saturday night, we had one of my work friends and his wife out for dinner. Originally I wasn't going to do anything crazy, but his wife saw me in the parking lot a few days before the dinner and said "I can't wait to try one of your crazy recipes on Saturday!"

Well...you can't serve breaded chicken after a comment like that, right? So I racked my noggin for something interesting to serve and came up with Pork Belly.

Pork Belly, in today's high-speed cuisine couture, is already a little passe. Up until about 5 years ago, pork belly was an afterthought in American cuisine...mostly relegated to stews and stocks. It has always been popular in Asian cuisine, especially Korean, as it's fatty flavor and tender meat are quite revered and prepared in a variety of different methods. The American chefs got a hold of the cut of meat, identified by its striated layers of fat and meat, and made it gourmet. This caused the price of pork belly to go from "cheap" to "still affordable".

I went to Market District and paid $3.99/lb for a 2-lb slab. I decided to pay homage to the Asian influences by doing an Asian-esque preparation.

First you have to score the fatty side of the pork belly in a cross-hatch pattern in order for the flavors to soak in to completely.

In my dutch oven, I sauteed 1/2 of a white onion in some oil. I then added 3 sliced garlic cloves and 1 tbsp of ginger once the onions were translucent. To that I added 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of white pepper (the key to all Asian recipes, in my opinion).

I added the pork belly slab in to the dutch oven and then rubbed 2 tablespoons of honey on top of the pork belly. Then put enough water into the dutch oven until the water level comes up to the top of the pork. Bring this up to a boil and then reduce it to low heat for 2 hours.

I put the meat in fat side up for the first hour on the stove and then I flipped it fat side down for the last hour. I took the pork belly out after 2 hours, tented it on a platter covered in aluminum foil and let it rest for 30 minutes.

While that was going on, I brought the remaining liquid up to a boil and reduced it down to a glaze to put on top of the pork.

I served a slice of pork belly to each of us on a bed of Udon noodles. These noodles have some weight to them and absorb flavors naturally. They are very versatile to use in Asian cooking. The side dish was a Bok Choy salad that I prepared as well.

We all enjoyed the pork belly, but we all trimmed the fat away for the most part. It's kind of like the prime rib of pork, in that respect I guess. The pork tenderloin is still my favorite cut of pork ($5.99/lb at Market District) and we actually had that for dinner on Monday, but pork belly is interesting enough to try again.


  1. I was going to try and make some clever dutch oven remark, but after further reflection I figured I'd leave the softballs to the rookies.

  2. Dutch oven jokes? That's 2008 type stuff. You're better than that.

    On a completely unrelated note, stay tuned for my recipe for Donkey Punch.