If you were to ask a number of chefs “What is the best way to make delicious pork belly?” you’d probably get a different answer from each one. Just a quick Google or Youtube search reveals a myriad of them with varying cooking times and procedures. What is certain though is whether you’re going to turn it into bacon or make it fall apart tender with crispy skin, you will need some patience.
For this particular recipe we are using side pork with the skin on. Our goal is to make it melt in your mouth but also give the skin a crunchy texture. The first step is to simmer the meat in an aromatic and flavorful broth which we did on day one. The broth was made with water, soy sauce, Shaohsing cooking wine, ginger, garlic, dried chives, and a bit of homemade Chinese 5-spice powder. You can use a pressure cooker to speed up the simmering process to shave off a couple hours of prep time, but in this case our pressure cooker wasn’t larger enough to accommodate the whole piece and we didn’t want to cut it up.The next steps were done the following day which involved cooking it low and slow in an oven at 250F for a few hours to render some of the fat, followed by a few minutes under a hot broiler to crisp up the skin. Recently we’ve been partial to dry brining our meat whereas we would typically mix up a 3% salt and sugar solution and submerge the meat for a day or two, but after trying both methods these days Kim and I tend to agree with Kenji Lopez-Alt from the Food Lab that dry brining allows the meat to get seasoned without diluting its flavour. To facilitate the dry brining process, in between the first cook and the second we covered the skin with a mixture of one part baking powder to three parts salt and left it in the fridge uncovered overnight… not only to season the skin, but the baking powder also creates tiny bubbles and increases the pH so the browning and crisping process takes place more readily.
We are serving the pork belly with a side of rice noodles cooked in the same broth, and baby bok choy. Enjoy the photos below!