Pork Belly Sliders
Pork belly is simply an uncured, unsalted, unsmoked slab of bacon. If you are lucky enough to live in area with an Asian grocery with a fresh meat counter, finding fresh pork belly is no problem, otherwise, have a chat with the meat guy in your regular grocery store and ask – no, demand – that he order it for you.
Pork belly can be prepared in a variety of ways, but my favorite is sliced, lightly seared, braised until tender, and served on a soft bun with Asian style condiments. The type of bun is up to you. Classic steamed Chinese buns are the usual vehicle for these sandwiches, but we like soft pretzel buns sold in a small slider size-any good bakery style roll you like will work fine. The condiments can vary too, from simple soy sauce mixed with a bit of minced garlic and ginger, sirracha pepper sauce, Korean pepper sauce or Chinese hoisin sauce. The braising liquid, type of bun and condiments can also be easily adapted for Latin or Italian versions of the recipe. The basic recipe below, which I think is very good as is, is my favorite, but feel free to add your favorite seasonings (sesame oil, star anise, garlic and ginger are nice additions).
Here, I have purchased pre-sliced pork belly that is a little leaner than I prefer and is probably better suited for stir-fried dishes and fried rice. Yes, it’s a bit better calorie-wise, but pork belly with an equal fat-to lean ratio is more tender and succulent for sandwiches. In my opinion, lean pork belly is better when sliced thinly for stir-fries, or diced, browned and added to fried rice. Either way, the end result will still be very tasty.
These little sliders are a nice change of pace for football parties or weekend movie nights at home.
Pork Belly Sliders
Fresh pork belly sliced to 1/8” thickness
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
1/2 cup water
Condiment of choice
Thinly sliced cucumbers
Thinly sliced green onions
Add the soy sauce, mirin and water. Bring to a simmer, cover and braise over low heat for about an hour, or until tender. Keep an eye on the pan and add additional water if it evaporates too quickly. The pork should not be covered or swimming in liquid, but the pan should not be dry, either.
To serve, cut the pork into pieces that fit your buns. Spread a small amount of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, or use some of the braising liquid from the pan, on each side of the bun. Top with thinly sliced vegetable such as crisp cucumbers, green onions or jalapeno peppers. Chopped kimchi or grated carrots are also very good.