I like old things
the unevenness of lines
etched by time
beneath my fingertips as I graze them
gently across faded facades
rings upon rings of drought and first rain.
Those who have spotted me in the wild of my kitchen will know that I don’t like smelling of food. I wear a shower cap and a face mask when I do anything other than boil or steam, and I wear an apron that’s real cute because it covers my entire body and has giant pockets (which have nothing to do with keeping the scent from my clothes but I just really love giant pockets).
This means, if I’ve ever bothered to turn on the oven for you, if I seared, braised, or fried anything for you, that means I really love you. It could also just mean that I really want to eat the thing that requires me to turn on the oven, or sear, or braise or fry – like this pork belly because it’s basically a richly spiced porky butter that comes with its own toast in the form of crispy skin.
Probably both. Glad it’s mutual.
Slow Roasted Pork Belly
- 2.5 lb slab of thick cut boneless skin-on pork belly
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp fine sea salt, divided
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/8 tsp five spice
- 1L unsalted chicken or vegetable broth
- In a large container big enough to fit the slab of pork, dissolve 1/4 cup of salt with hot tap water.
- Once dissolved, add the pork to the hot salt solution. We are not brining for extended amounts of time so there is no need to worry about using chilled brine. In addition, the higher temperature of the brine will be lowered by the fridge-cold pork to something close to body temperature, which is good for drawing out any latent blood still in the pork. This is crucial if you want a clean-flavoured pork that doesn’t have that scummy taste.
- If you’re in a rush, leave this to brine at room temperature for 2-4 hours, or you can transfer the whole thing to the fridge and let it brine slowly for 8-12 hours.
- Once brined, discard the brine and pat the pork dry with a couple pieces of kitchen towel.
- Using a sharp knife, score the skin and fat cap of the pork belly every 7mm (hasselback style). Do not skip this step, since once roasted it will be impossible to cut otherwise. Make sure the cuts are sufficiently deep, but not so deep that they cut into the meat tissue.
- In a spice grinder, grind the spices to as fine as possible. Transfer the spice mixture into a small bowl and stir in the salt.
- Rub the cure all over the pork, and into the crevices and incisions in the skin thoroughly, and transfer to a 9-by-13 inch baking dish. Leave in the fridge, uncovered, for 8-12 hours.
- No need to preheat the oven, but you do need to let the pork return to room temperature before you cook it, so take it out of the fridge 2-3 hours before you want to start cooking it.
- Add the chicken or vegetable broth around the pork so that it comes up about halfway or two-thirds the side of the pork belly (but does not cover the skin).
- Place the baking dish in the center of the oven and set the oven to 350 degrees F. Let it roast at that temperature for about 2 hours – by then the broth would have nearly fully evaporated.
- Switch the temperature to 425 degrees F and continue roasting for about 30 minutes until the skin is really crunchy throughout.
- Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before slicing, using the incisions you made in step 5 as a guide for your knife.
- Serve as is or with iceberg lettuce for wrapping, yuzu pepper salt for accenting, minty quick-pickled cucumbers for balancing, and yuzu sweet soy sauce (below) for dipping.
Yuzu Sweet Soy Sauce
- 3 tbsp yuzu tea preserves
- 4 tbsp thick soy sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic, pureed
- 2 tbsp black vinegar
- Stir together the garlic and vinegar and let stand for 5 minutes to denature the enzymes in the garlic that give people heartburn. Be considerate of your guests please.
- Stir in everything else until well combined.
That’s all I wrote. But let me leave you with one more pic.