Having a rep as a conscious, healthy eater – I wanted to show that I too can cook mean, fatty porky dishes at times \ / (that’s me with an angry face;))… Actually – I think that we all deserve to “fall off the wagon” and indulge a bit now and then. Otherwise – the healthy stuff gets to be a chore and there’s no “reward” for being good, you know? Life’s too short to deprive yourself – just in moderation and balance of good and bad, i think.
Adopted and inspired by a recipe for Caramel-Lacquered Pork Belly with Quick-Pickled Honeydew in a Food & Wine magazine, I bought my first pork belly at Whole Foods since what seems like over a decade ago. The trick is to season it close to 24 hours and to roast lo and slow~~ and my proud, awesome secret? Fresh ground coffee & star anise rub – yup. That was Me. KICKS! AZZ! It was so tender and succulent that I almost cried… and so did my hubby ^ ^
Ingredients (serves 4):
– 1 lb pork belly
– 2 tbsp sea salt, fresh ground black pepper to season
– 1 tbsp evap cane juice/sugar (tenderizes, seasons and browns the meat)
– 2 tbsp fresh ground coffee & 1 whole star anise (ground)
– 1/2 cup evap cane juice/sugar
– 1 tbsp tamarind paste (optional – most difficult to find even at Asian grocery stores. Look for it in a compacted block form, sorta like whole bunch of dried plums smashed into a 6×6 cube)
– 1 tbsp asian fish sauce
– 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
– 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
– 1 small Thai chile (minced)
((You can prep it the night before (~8-9pm), tuck it away in the fridge, sprinkle coffee bean/star anise mixture the morning of, season it for another ~6 hrs and then braise it for dinner))
1) Mix salt, sugar and black pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle over pork belly, wrap twice tightly in plastic wrap and store in fridge.
2) After ~12 hours of marinating, unwrap the belly, sprinkle and rub the coffee bean/star anise mixture, wrap it again and marinate it for another ~6 hrs. Rinse belly and rub dry.
3) In a pre-heated 375 oven, set pork on a shallow baking/casserole dish with 1/4 cup of water at the bottom, fat side up. Roast for 35-40 min. Reduce temperature to 300 and roast for 1 hr. Turn off oven and leave for 30-40 min to cool.
4) Making caramel sauce: Melt 1/4 cup evap cane juice in medium heat sauce pan until melts and starts caramelizing (stir occassionally). Add another 1/4 cup evap cane juice to melt until it becomes a rich brown caramel. Add 1/3 cup water to dilute and stir until caramel is smooth. Cool for 1 minute, add fish sauce, tamarind paste, ginger, chile, and lime juice. Turn off heat.
5) Cut the cooled pork belly into 2.5 x 2.5 squares and scrape the fat skin lightly (should fall right off). Sear (no oil needed) on a cast iron pan until brown (about 3 min).
6) Drizzle caramel sauce and serve with your favorite sides. Vegetable menu for the night – roasted kohlrabi tossed with olive oil, salt/pepper and drizzled lemon juice. Roasted at the same time as the second 1/2 time of the pork belly.
made with 2 tbsp of love; love for food, love for life.