Mother’s Day is coming up and I can’t help but to think about the things my mom taught me when I was young. One piece of advice that has stood out in my mind over the years is how to cook pork. ‘You gotta cook pork low and slow. It’s the only way to go’. Not only does this tidbit of wisdom rhyme but no truer culinary words were ever spoken. Cooking pork slow is a good way to prevent the meat from drying out and get the fat to achieve that luscious consistency that just melts in your mouth and makes your brain foodgasm.
Of all the parts of the pig, pork belly might be my favorite cut. I’ve cooked pork belly in a thyme and orange juice sauce, sage and cider sauce or my favorite: soy, ginger and garlic (surely one of the holy food trinities). No mater what sauce it is cooked in, just make sure to cook it slow on low heat then you’ll get that tender, juicy meat with soft and creamy fat. Crisp it up on top and it’s like icing on a cake.
But how does one get that elusive crispy crackling on top? Well, I’ve experimented with many different methods over the years and finally settled on a foolproof way to do it. Simply dehydrate it with a salt crust beforehand. WORKS. EVERY. TIME. I dare you not to devour the whole thing in one sitting.
In a fitted container or cling wrap, sprinkle a generous layer of salt (sea salt or rock salt) down. Put the pork belly skin side down onto the salt layer, wrap it up in cling film and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
When ready to cook, take out the pork belly and rinse the excess salt away with water. Pat dry, cut slits into the skin crosswise (try not to cut into the fat), and rub oil into the skin. Place in an oven tray.
In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, water, garlic, ginger, sugar and red pepper flakes (optional). Mix until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour mixture in baking tray around the pork belly.
Cook for 2 hours in an oven at 350F/175C. Make sure to check in on it from time to time. Add more water if the liquid in the baking try is getting low.
After two hours, turn the top broiler to high (250C/500F) and cook until the top skin is golden brown and crackly (about 5-10 minutes. Make sure to watch the pork closely at this time to prevent it from burning.
When the top of the pork belly is crispy, take it out of the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
Cut the pork belly into pieces and spoon sauce from the baking tray over the sliced pork belly. Serve with rice and bak choy cooked in oyster sauce.
Tip: If you are having difficult cutting into the crispy skin, simply flip in over and cut upside down, first through the meat then the skin.
Tip: If you are looking for a sauce with a more gravy-like consistency, mix the remaining liquid from the baking tray with tsp of cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water. Heat until bubbly and thick then spoon over pork.