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Pork belly

Where's the best place to get pork belly, and what's the best way to prepare it? I got some at a local asian market, cured it, braised it, and seared it, but it was still very fatty -- not like what I've eaten in restaurants.

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  1. Maybe you need to describe how you've had it in restaurants. Pork belly = uncured bacon (not the backbacon type).

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulj

      In restaurants I've had thick cubes that have been quite meaty, well marbled but without huge amounts of fat. Mine had good flavor but sort of a sickening amount of gelatinous fat.

    2. I think that the one cut of modern pork which retains adequate fat is belly. In fact trad. pork belly just has too much for me.

      I posted this elsewhere a couple of days ago and it may be a little off subject, but, crackling aside, the meat is beautifully moist and soft:

      Have I finally cracked crackling?

      I've struggled for years with unreliable results, but this really, really does work:

      Pre-heat oven to gas 6/200C/400F. (May sound a little hot, but it works)

      For four people take a 1-1.5kg (say 2 1/2 ibs) piece of boneless, skin on, belly pork. This will be about 10 inches square and 1 to 2 inches thick. Score the skin with a very sharp knife at about 1/2 inch spaces. Now cut the meat across and across again into 4 equal squares of one portion (so no carving!). Place meat, spaced a little, skin side up in a roasting tin and scatter chopped onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, garlic etc around meat. Pour round boiling water to come about half way up the meat and stick it in the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Top up hot water if needed. Serve. No resting required. Actually this works fine with plain water, no veggies.

      This was given to me by someone who said they had read it recently, so sorry if I've stolen it.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Robin Joy

        A while back, inspired by a thread on 'petit sale', I salted a piece of pork belly, then braised it with vegetables, and served it with lentils. I though the pork and lentil combination worked very well.

        Petit sale is gamon, salted pork jowel, rather than belly, but the effect is similar
        http://www.my-french-house.com/recipe...

        1. re: Robin Joy

          I used this cooking technique, except I used a four-pound piece of boar belly, presalted it, cooked it whole, substituted goose broth for water, and didn't add any vegetables or other seasoning. It came out great, similar to the meaty version of chicharrónes sold in Mexican markets.

          Half a pound per person would be a huge serving.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              That looks amazing. I'm definitely doing that, hopefully tomorrow. Safeway here was out of black-eyed peas, not surprising the day after New Year's so I'm waiting to fix the pork belly.

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              Can't tell from your photo if you scored the meat or not. Also did you heavily or lightly or ??? the meat? Thanks, RL.

              1. re: c oliver

                I scored the skin, roughly half an inch crosshatch, using a box cutter with the knife on its shortest setting.

                Heavily or lightly what? Salt? I use the Zuni proportions, about 3/4 teaspoon per pound. I salted it a few days in advance.

          1. Might they have been saving their better belly (more layers of meat) for their better customers? It helps to have a good relationship with the butcher and to know what to ask for. Rejet inferior cuts until they bring out the good stuff. They will respect you for it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Joebob

              Or it could be that most customers at the Asian market prefer a fattier belly than the (non-Asian) restaurant customers. One is not necessarily superior to the other.

              I wonder if the fat/lean proportions vary across the typical slab. My local butcher (non-Asian) sells its own curred bacon which is quite lean. I also buy packages of bacon scraps, odd shaped pieces, mostly from the edges, which are on the lean side. On the other hand, I've seen chucks of salt pork which have very little lean.

              Next time you buy belly look at the packages to see if there is much variation in lean v fat. What you see in the raw is what you'll experience when cooked.

              1. re: paulj

                bacon is smoked pork belly, sometimes smoked with skin on , . It's amazing how popular pork belly has become in the last couple of years. Filipino or japanese for pork belly. Try the pork belly at kyo ya . I would simmer it for a while or deep fry it. Until the 1970s slaughter houses smoked the belly with the skin on. Fried pork rinds were all smoked skins. Then they changed the process and took the belly skins off so harder to find smoked skins for pork rinds. There were only a couple of slaughterhouses that still would offer smoked skins for pork rinds. Pork rind manufacturers started to use back skins instead, but some that could find belly skins had the best tasting product. Sorry to stray off the topic, but im in the mood for some fried smoked pork belly skins. Rolets went out of business they were the last to have real smoked pork rinds.

            2. In Korean markets you will find two types of pork belly loosely translated as three layer and five layer meat.
              The three layer is the fattier pork belly, and the five layer is leaner.
              There are quite a few ways to prepare it
              Soaked in water with doenjang (miso) then grilled, broiled, or braised.
              Sliced thin lengthwise and grilled, then served with a sesame oil/salt/pepper dipping sauce, or wrapped in lettuce or cabbage leaves with a bit of rice and a dab of spicy chili paste.
              Cut into chunks and marinated in a spicy marinade, then stir fried or grilled.
              Boiled, or boiled and grilled, then wrapped in kimchi.

              7 Replies
              1. re: hannaone

                I'm not religious, but pork and kim chee makes me want to pray.

                1. re: joonjoon

                  I feel the same way about onions, bacon, and potatoes.

                  1. re: hannaone

                    Hannaone, I have some pork belly chunks in the freezer purchased at a korean market and I'd like to prepare as you've suggested above. Can you provide some additional guidance on the spicy marinade?

                    1. re: tcamp

                      For 1 pound of 5 layer pork belly
                      3 fresh hot red or green chili peppers
                      1 tablespoon fine ground dried hot red chili pepper
                      1 tablespoon coarse ground dried hot red chili pepper
                      1 teaspoon doenjang (soy bean paste)
                      2 tablespoons soy sauce
                      1/4 cup unsalted beef broth or water
                      2 tablespoons mulyeot (malt syrup) or honey
                      2 teaspoons sesame oil
                      1 tablespoon rice wine
                      1 green onion
                      4 cloves garlic

                      Toss the peppers and garlic into a blender with a little water and liquefy.
                      Add all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
                      This will result in a fairly thick paste, add a little more water if needed to mix well.
                      Add the pork belly to the paste and mix well.
                      Cover and let it stand about two hours in the fridge.
                      Place the pork on a hot grill (or grill plate on a butane stove) or broil on high until edges begin to crisp and lightly char (Baste with any of the paste left in the bowl). Turn and repeat.
                      Serve with some loose leaf lettuce, sliced raw garlic, and seasoned green onions

                    2. re: hannaone

                      I love the 5 layer pork belly wrapped in a lettuce leaf w/ cloves of garlic and slices of hot peppers. Gimme 5!

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        My personal favorite -
                        Raw garlic, hot green chili peppers, lightly crisped pork belly all rolled into leaf lettuce and dipped in ssamjang has got to be one of the best taste combos ever.

                    3. For me the best place is a local chinese market. They usually have a whole skin-on and bone-in and trim it or cut it upon request.

                      I have a favorite recipe in " All About Braising" by Molly Stevens, "Red-Cooked Pork belly with Bok Choy",

                      Also, Japanese Braised Pork is good. As the belly pre-boiled and drained, the meat is not too fatty anymore. Try the following site:

                      http://japanesefood.about.com/od/pork...

                      1. Asian markets are still the best place to buy pork belly unless you want to pay a premium to have your butcher order some. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. A side of pig belly is usually cut into two pieces -- front and back. I forget which is leaner, but there is a big difference in fat to meat ratio, so if you just ask for a piece of belly no telling what you might get. Also, the restaurant might have served side meat instead of belly. Side meat looks pretty much like belly but is much leaner. Sometimes (at least around here) side meat is sold as belly, so there's a big range of fattyness. Bottom line, ask for lean and ask to see a few pieces to chose from.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Zeldog

                          I second what Zeldog recommends.

                          Indeed the Asian market is your best source for fresh pork belly at a low price. But do beware -- a lot of pork belly is just fat. What the OP had in a restaurant was a piece of meat carefully selected for a nice proportion of lean to fat.

                          Unless made into bacon, my favorite way to have pork belly is after it's been braised long and very slow in broth with lots of flavor.

                        2. Maybe the best thing I ever put in my mouth is the roast pork belly from "Roast" restaurant in London. The crispy skin was to die for. WIth the chef's help (via email) I recreated it at home (although mine wasn't quite as good). I'd be happy to share the recipe if anyone wants.

                           
                          10 Replies
                          1. re: flueln

                            Please tell me that the photo is from the restaurant and not your own prep. I'm going to be SO intimidated if you created that :) I would love the recipe. Please.

                            1. re: flueln

                              OMG....that is ridiculous looking. please share!!!

                              1. re: flueln

                                I'd love to have the recipe ASAP as I want to prepare pork belly this week please! My email is hedinek@pocketinet.com and thanks so much! K

                                1. re: flueln

                                  If you've got the time I'd love this recipe too please, FlueIn. Don't email - just post!

                                    1. re: flueln

                                      the photo item looks more like a rolled loin of pork rather than pork belly. pork belly can be rolled and tied-up like that too but the streaks where fat melted off would be more visible. whittingstall and ramsay have featured this in their shows, i'm pretty sure jamie, marco, james, gary rhoads and most brit celebrity chefs also serve their own versions.

                                      the easiest recipe for this that i'm familiar with is the one gordon fed hugh in the season two ender of the f-word.

                                      1. re: epabella

                                        A roast of belly pork is, indeed, a very common restaurant dish in the UK. In fatc, I'd say it's almost become too common. It has the great benefit of not only being a very flavoursome dish but one that's cheap to prepare.

                                        Belly pork has also long been a cut for home use - again it's cheap so suited to long cooking. We roast a rolled piece, long and slow - about 3 hours at 150 - comes out with meat very similar to the pulled pork I've had in America. But it's not too good for crackling.

                                        Elizabeth David has agood recipe for pork rillettes using the cut.

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          I slow roast my pork belly and do my crackling separately. I dry, score and salt the skin and do crackling under the grill (broiler in the US?). I watch it very carefully, and it's pretty mesmerising to watch. Perfect crackling in a few of minutes and you can control it to make sure it's evenly frazzled.

                                          Long slow cooking does let a lot of the fat render away but it is the layers of fat that makes the meat so tender and sweet. You need to cook it with the fat. Yes, one end is leaner than the other but to me, the best meat is not from the leanest ends.

                                          My favourite ways to cook pork belly are to slow roast with a spice rub, or slathered in a paste of sage and garlic, and braise chinese red-cooked style .

                                          I think I know what we're having for dinner tomorrow...

                                          1. re: hillsbilly

                                            Do you take the skin off at the beginning or wait till the joint's almost cooked before taking it off to grill?

                                            The slow roast with a rub is a good idea - Nigel Slater has a number of suggestions in one of his books. I've certainly had good results using a jar of "char siu sauce".

                                            1. re: Harters

                                              You can do either, just leave enough fat on the roast if you're doing it before. You want to protect the meat. Either way, start by drying and scoring the skin before removing it from the beast. I score with a stanley knife/box cutter that I keep especially. I don't apply any fat, just salt.

                                              I prefer taking it off during the cooking. I started doing crackling separately when, towards the end of roasting, I still wasn't getting a good crackling. When you cook it first and wait til it's not floppy anymore, the skin will pretty much lift right off in one sheet. Just need to release it at the edges with a sharp knife.

                                              Stick that under the grill on medium, watch it the whole time and adjust the temp and move your crackling sheet around as required. It should stay crispy for ages so no need to be too finnicky about when you do this.

                                              After you've taken the skin off, you also have a nice surface on the meat for glazing like you would a ham. I LOVE brown sugar + hot english mustard brushed all over. Char sui sauce is a favourite too but I am about to try a home made version to avoid the additives. My son is sensitive to all sorts of things. Lucky I love to cook from scratch.

                                              I've taken the skin off pork chops and grilled it too so everyone can have a little strip of crackling even without sunday roast.

                                              Hmmm, an hour after breakfast...hungry now.

                                    2. Pork belly can vary a lot in the acutal amount of meat vs fat, so it helps to choose a meatier cut to begin with. I actually did roast pork belly last night, with a meaty cut, and it was fairly low fat.

                                      The other cool is long, slow cooking, to give the extra fat time to render out.