Korean Braised Pork Belly
The Koreans love their pork belly. They braise, barbecue, grill and stir fry it. When pork belly is cured and smoked, it becomes Western-style bacon. For this recipe and many other Asian pork belly recipes, uncured, unsmoked, fresh pork belly is used. If you are lucky enough to live in a city with an Asian community large enough to have grocery stores with a fresh meat counter you’ll easily find fresh pork belly, both in slabs and sliced for grilling. Here, in Las Vegas, we are able to purchase fresh pork from highly regarded black pigs at my favorite Korean supermarket, Greenland Market on Spring Mountain at Rainbow.
The marinade and braising liquid in this recipe both contain Korean red pepper powder, a Korean kitchen staple. While it looks like Western cayenne pepper, it isn’t. It’s exceptionally fragrant, fruity and vibrant red. It only contains a fraction of the spicy heat of cayenne pepper and can be used in copious amounts without making food too spicy. If you can’t buy it locally, it can be purchased on-line and is well worth seeking out. I use it in my dry rubs for good old American style BBQ ribs and chicken and receive rave reviews every time. It reminds me a great deal of really nice, fresh Hungarian or Spanish paprika and I often use it in place of paprika.
I prefer cooking this recipe in my pressure cooker because it’s quicker. Oven or stove-top braising work equally well, and I have also included those methods in the instructions below. This is a three-step step cooking process. The first cooking firms the meat up for the braising step. The braising renders the fat into a silky, luxurious mouth feel. The final roasting crisps up the top layer of fat.
This is a luxurious, special occasion dish. Yes, it is fatty, but it is meant to be eaten in small portions, wrapped in lettuce leaves with cabbage kimchi, marinated cucumbers or any other of the endless Korean side dishes know as banchan. The beverage of choice with this is soju, a Korean rice wine, or sake.
Braised Korean Style Pork Belly
2 lbs fresh, meaty pork belly
2 tablespoons Korean chile/garlic/sesame paste
2 tablespoons Korean red pepper powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2cups water
½ cup rice wine or sherry
1 tablespoon Korean red pepper powder
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Rub the pork all over with the marinade ingredients. Place in a Ziploc bag and marinate, refrigerated for 4 hours or better yet, overnight.
Place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes to firm the meat up.
*To cook in a pressure cooker, place the pork on rack in the pressure cooker, add the braising liquid and process for 45 minutes according to your cooker’s instructions.
*To oven braise, place the pork in a baking pan, add the braising liquid and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Cook in the oven for 2 hours at 325 degrees or until the pork is fork tender.
* To braise on top of the stove, place the pork on rack placed in a wok or Dutch oven, add the braising liquid, bring to a boil, cover tightly and simmer for 2 hours or until fork tender.
With either method, at the end of the cooking time, remove the pork to a plate and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Serve with cabbage kimchi, marinated cucumbers and either steamed rice, or whole leaves of butter-crunch lettuce for diners to roll up thin slices of the crispy skin pork burrito-style.