I can confidently say that most of the omnivores I know start salivating at the mere mention of pork belly, and grin ear to ear whilst licking their lips when crispy crackling comes into view. I won’t insult your intelligence by denying that I am one of those omnivores, and a certain someone? Well I’m pretty sure he loves pork more than I do because he could happily eat ham sandwiches for lunch everyday. If that’s not love…
But let’s get back to the belly- I was day dreaming about that time we had those infamous Momofuku pork buns and decided to make those dreams a reality. Unfortunately Skyscanner was not finding me any affordable flights to NYC, so feeling adventurous I thought the next best thing would be to just recreate them myself. They look simple enough, right?
Well the buns were an absolute flop but the pork was a hit! So let’s just talk about that…
My googling efforts revealed that most recipes suggest you prepare the pork the day before and marinade overnight. No doubt this makes it taste just that much better but if you’re less organised or more impatient, as I am, just do it a couple of hours earlier and I promise you it will still taste delicious!
Roast Pork Belly and Crackling (adapted from a recipe by Kylie Kwong)
- 600 g piece of pork belly
- seasame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon five-spice powder
- 2 tablespoons miso paste
- sprinkle of chilli flakes (only if you like it a bit spicy too)
- approximately 1/2 cup chicken stock
1- To prepare my pork I like to cut the whole piece in half lengthways then score the skin straight across. These cuts will serve as a guide when slicing your pork and crackling later. Once scored, place the pork skin side up on a rack over the sink and carefully pour boiling water over the skin. Scalding the skin like this will really help you get that crispy crackling. Pat dry and leave to one side.
2- To prepare the marinade, mix together the soy sauce, brown sugar, five-spice powder, chilli flakes, and miso paste. Spread this goodness all over the pork flesh, taking care not to get any on the skin. Transfer to a baking dish and cover. At this point you just leave it to do its thing in the fridge; overnight if you’re that organised or at the very least 2-3 hours like I did.
3- About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook your pork, take it out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature and preheat your oven to 150c. When ready to cook, rub a few drops of sesame oil over the skin and liberally cover with salt. Pour a bit of chicken stock into the dish, roughly a couple of millimetres at the base of the dish, then pop it into the oven.
4- The pork should be cooked at 150c for roughly 1.5-2 hours; I check on it every 30 minutes or so, to top up the chicken stock and just to get my dose of pork porn. After the 1 hour mark you’ll find there’s probably a lot of pork fat in your dish, it’s a bit too fatty for my liking so I spoon it out (and use a bit in my fried rice side dish).
5- Once the pork is tender, crank up the oven to 220c and cook the pork for a further 15-20 minutes to crisp up the skin. You should hear the exciting snap, crackle, and pop of the crackling taking shape but if not, try moving the pork higher up in your oven and even turning on the grill if there are still no developments.
6- When you’ve got sufficient crackling, take the pork out of the oven, let it rest for a couple of minutes, then slice and serve!
With the buns out of the picture, the pork belly was served on top of a simple vegetable fried rice with some quick-pickled carrots, oh and don’t forget about those lusciously sticky pan juices…