28 July 2017
Not until today have I successfully made pork belly or pork knuckle with really crispy crackling. Thanks to Kirbie who posted her recipe on her website! I have followed it to a T and, of course, the pork has turned out to be delicious, the meat juicy and the crackling super crunchy!
I have searched through quite a number of pork belly recipes - all ask for it to be cooked at two stages, one at a lower temperature for a long time (say 170°C for 40 minutes) in order to cook the meat and render it tender, and the other at high heat for shorter time (say 240°C for 30 minutes) to crisp the skin. Some recipes suggest the high heat first and others at the end as we have here, either way is said to produce good results.
Nevertheless, each recipe would teach you one or the other techniques to ensure the cracking will go crisp – such as scoring the skin before cooking or puncturing the skin when the pork is half-way cooked. Kirbie’s recipe saves a lot of effort – just spreading a layer of salt on the skin and the salt crust will do the work! I have made a Western twist to the recipe by adding some ground fennel seed, a pinch of rosemary and minced garlic in the marinade.
Why bother cooking pork belly at home when it is well available at the market in Hong Kong? Fresh pork of your own choice, less salty meat, no MSG, and the feeling of “fresh from the oven”, all counting towards a totally different palate!!!
To enjoy this lovely piece, I would look for a nice pairing wine. Pork belly is quite fatty so the delicious sharpness of a Riesling really cuts through. A dry German Riesling, and even Alsace and Austrian Rieslings will work well. A light red will do too. So, finally, I fetched a bottle of Barolo, which also has enough acidity to counter the fat, and some tannin, well mellowed through barrel ageing, and a hint of savoury notes to match with the layers of flavours coming from the fennel seeds and rosemary. Fantastic!!
This first time is experimental. I will surely do it again with a bigger piece of pork belly!