Crispy Pork Belly

When pork belly is salted, cured, smoked and cooked it becomes the crisp bacon we know and love. When fresh, uncured pork belly is braised it becomes tender and luscious. This recipe is a little both. Pieces of fresh pork belly are marinated in fragrant Asian flavors, braised until tender then briefly deep-fried until crisp on the outside with a tender, moist interior.

Don’t be put off by the amount of fat in a piece of fresh pork belly. While it’s definitely a rich cut of meat, much of the fat cooks out during the initial braising step. The fat between the layers of meat help keep the meat moist during the braising step, try to select a piece of pork belly that has a 50/50 ratio of meat to fat in the streaking.

The final quick frying of the pork can be quite messy, but is well worth the final result. It is very important to make sure the meat is patted dry with paper towels before carefully sliding into the oil in a pan with high sides. Have a lid and a splatter shield close by and be prepared to move quickly to contain the splatters as the meat enters the hot cooking oil.

Crispy Pork Belly

1-2 lb piece of pork belly
1 cup soy sauce
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sherry
8 thick slices fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, halved
6 pieces star anise
12 whole black peppercorns
Vegetable oil for frying
Green onions for garnish
Pickled ginger for garnish

Slice the pork belly into thick 2 inch pieces. Place in a shallow bowl or zip-lock bag large enough to hold the meat and the marinade.

Combine the next 7 ingredients and pour over the meat. Marinate, refrigerated for several hours or even better, overnight. Place in a saucepan and add enough water if needed to partially cover the meat. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for about 60 minutes. This can be done a day or two ahead and refrigerated in the braising liquid until ready to fry in the next step.

Remove the pork from the braising liquid and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure to pat dry very well to cut down on the splattering in the final step.

Over medium heat, heat about 2 inches of oil in a pan with high sides until hot. Have tongs, a slotted spoon, a lid and a splatter screen handy, there will be quite a bit of splattering during the first 10 seconds.

Very carefully add a few pieces of the pork to the hot oil, fry on all side until lightly browned and crisped, and be prepared to place a platter screen or lid over the pan. This will take about 1 minute. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels. Continue with the remaining meat until it has all been fried.

While still hot chop into bite sized pieces and serve over plain rice drizzled with a few drops of soy sauce and sliced green onions. Garnish with pickled ginger.

Best served right away. The meat will lose it’s crispness if refrigerated after fried.

    • tom
    • April 13th, 2012

    that looks a great combination of flavours, but i can’t believe you don’t use that great cooking liquid over it. i do one similar (but using hard cider and no sugar, and cooked a bit longer) and the cooking liquid is FANTASTIC! i’m having mild anxiety over the idea that you might even throw it out.

    • The braising liquid is often boiled down a bit to concentrate it for use as a sauce in many Asian recipes for braised meats and would certainly work here. It might be a be salty for some people, but that could be adjusted by using less soy sauce to start with.

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