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Dec 1, 2008 05:30 PM

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

        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 chicharrĂ³nes 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: