A few weeks ago we bought a pork belly from Ryan’s farms at the Honest 2 Goodness Saturday market. Bill had seen several recipes for Red Braised Pork Belly and was keen to give it a try.
Braising meat is a fairly simple enterprise. The most effort comes from preparing the pork by blanching in boiling water for a few minutes, dunking in cold water and then cutting into bite-sized cubes (a bit challenging with a slippery pork belly). The cubes are browned in oil, then removed. The recipe called for caramelizing some sugar in the oil, but turns out it is difficult to tell when sugar has caramelized in a black pan. Caramelized or no, add in chicken stock, star anise, a cinnamon stick, a crushed nob of ginger, soy sauce, black pepper and the pork to simmer on low heat for 1.5 hours. Then remove the lid and simmer for an additional half hour to reduce the liquid. Finally, throw in some sliced spring onions and cilantro/coriander.
Such a luscious meat needs simple friends. Steamed Napa cabbage (bok choy if you’ve got it) and boiled rice worked perfectly. Many times you want a crispy fat cap on your pork belly, but in this dish the gooey fat is terrific, melting into the rice. Some recipes even suggest removing the leanest part of the pork belly, as it will not turn very tender. Bill left it on, and it worked fine. Not super tender, but had lots of flavor. Another hour of braising may help if you keep the lean strip.
We both loved this rich pork with bright Asian flavors, and as you can see below, it changed Bill’s life.
Well crap, now I have to keep the fridge stocked with red braised pork belly all the time. I’m addicted.
— Bill Gunter (@tulanian) May 1, 2012