Jul 8, 2012

It's So Good... It's Addictive!

Pork Belly, two scoops of rice, and beans
Click on photo to enlarge
No longer the “other” white meat, pork is now the meat of choice at almost all the world’s best restaurants. It wasn't long ago that pork belly was considered scrap meat, but now is the newest rage, and is what this blog wants to shout about. It is a boneless cut of meat taken from the belly of the pig, but it's not bacon, because it is not cured. It has been popular in Asian and European cuisine for a very long time, and is now gaining popularity in the U.S. Here in Hawaii, top chefs on Oahu are preparing pork belly in new and creative ways, and are finding out that it "sells like crazy".

The down side to this delicious protein is that e
ach ounce of pork belly contains 145 calories, but a recommended serving of meat is 3 ounces, making a total of 435 calories, but remember fat = flavor. Ok, so now that we have gotten through the gory details, and remembering "all things in moderation", lets talk about how good it tastes. There are many ways to cook pork belly, roasted, braised, fried, grilled, etc. The most popular is roasting. This process puts a heavenly crispy crust on the outside and melts away much of the fat inside transforming the meat into something succulent and obscenely tender. It's so good... it's addictive. 

Pork Belly Recipes:
Roast Pork Belly
Ingredients:
2 pound piece of pork belly, with skin on, and scored
4 tablespoons soy sauce
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup hot water

Procedure:
Score the pork skin with a sharp knife. Combine the soy sauce, garlic, sea salt, and pepper. Rub the skin generously with mixture and let it sit for at least an hour until the moisture begins to be drawn out.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a roasting pan with heavy foil and place a roasting rack in the pan. Now lay the pork on top of the rack, skin side up. Put 1/2 cup of hot water in the bottom of the pan to steam the meat as it cooks. Roast for 3 hours without basting. Remove the skin and slice the belly for serving. Crisp the skin in hot oil and serve on the side. Makes 4 servings.

Honey Fried Pork Belly
This is a Japanese pork belly recipe that is usually served donburi style, which is pork belly over rice.

Ingredients:
3/4 pound pork belly, skin removed
1/4 teaspoon Ichimi Togarashi (Japanese ground red chili pepper), or substitute cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
rice for two, cooked
blanched fresh spinach
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Procedure:
Slice pork belly into 1/4 inch pieces. sprinkle with Ichimi Togarashi. Heat oil in frying pan to high. Add pork slices and brown on both sides. Use a splatter screen over the pan to keep grease from splattering. Turn off heat and discard fat in pan. Turn heat back on to medium and add honey, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and minced garlic. Cook and stir until meat is nicely glaze. Try not to burn the sauce. Serve on top of hot rice and blanched spinach. Garnish with sesame seeds. Makes 2 servings.

Grilled Pork Belly & Mango Salad
This Filipino grilled pork belly is perfect with a mango salad on the side.

Pork Belly and Marinade Ingredients:
2 pounds pork belly without skin - sliced about 1/2 inches
1/3 cup palm vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground pepper flakes (optional)

Mango Salad Ingredients:
2 large ripe mango - peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium tomato - sliced
1 small red onion - sliced thinly
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup thinly sliced red radish

Mango Salad Dressing:
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
black pepper to taste

Marinade Procedure:
Combine all marinade ingredients in a big bowl. Add sliced pork belly. Mix until all slices of meat is fully coated. Transfer in a large Ziploc bag with the marinade. Set aside in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (longer is better). Turn marinade bag every hour. Heat the barbeque grill to about 400˚F. Place sliced pork bellies on the grill and barbecue until each sides are medium brown.

Mango Salad Procedure:
Combine the mango salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl, mix until fully combined then set aside in the refrigerator. In another bowl, toss sliced mango, tomatoes, onions, radish, and cilantro. Add salad dressing to taste. Serve pork belly over cooked jasmine rice with mango salad on the side. Makes 4 servings.

Pipeline Beer Braised Pork Belly Sliders
Sliders are mini burgers started in Wichita, Kansas in 1916 by Walter Anderson (who five years later founded White Castle). Even today, most slider lovers only think of using beef, but rules were meant to be broken. Take this recipe for example, a labor of love using pork belly, slowly braised in dark Pipeline beer, then served on sweet pillowy Hawaiian rolls and topped off with pickled Maui onions, Walter would be proud.

Ingredients for curing:
3 pounds of pork belly, skin on, cut into large pieces
3 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cloves

Ingredients for braising:
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 whole carrots, cleaned and cut into large chunks
2 celery ribs, cleaned and cut into large chunks
1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
24 ounces of a dark Hawaiian beer, like Pipeline Porter from Kona Brewing Co.
1 whole bay leaf
salt
cracked black pepper
4-6 cups of chicken stock, enough to cover the pork belly
small sweet dinner rolls (King's Hawaiian Bakery, 12 pack)
4 - 10 ounce jars of pickled sweet Maui onions, with spiced ogo (Kula brand)

Procedure:
Mix all of the curing ingredients together and rub it all over each side of the pork belly. Place in a large, sealable bag in the refrigerator for two days. After two days of curing, rinse all of the pieces under cold water, then dry each piece with paper towels. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven or large pot on medium heat, then add in the canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the pieces of pork belly, skin side down, and cook another few minutes. Once the pork skin is golden brown, remove the pork pieces from the pot and place on a plate. Add the carrots, onions, and celery, and stir until they begin to soften, trying not to burn them. Next, add the beer and bay leaf and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes, letting the beer reduce. Add the pork belly, skin side up, back into the pot. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Add chicken stock, pouring in enough to cover the pork. Cover with a tight lid, and place in the preheated oven, cooking for about 3 1/2 hours. After 3 1/2 hours of cooking, carefully remove the belly pork and slice. Place slices in between slices of small sweet bread rolls and top with pickled, sweet Maui onions. Serve with thinly sliced, fried sweet potatoes. Makes 12 sliders for 6 people.
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