This crisped pork belly may be a decadent appetizer, but it's easy to make and so full of flavor. And don't forget the slightly sticky sauce: you'll be in food heaven.
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Like most people, I enjoy a range of foods but still have my favorites. Especially if we are out, there are always a few things that I'll be drawn to if I see them on the menu. Braised lamb shanks and scallops are in there, as is pork belly.
It might be considered a lesser cut to some, but it has such fantastic flavor. This crisped pork belly with whisky-soy sauce really shows it off at it's best. It's the kind of dish that to me would be perfect for Valentine's day, or just any time you want something that little bit special.
Pork belly is one of those cuts that used to be near ignored but that has gained popularity recently. I think that's partly as we've discovered the cuisines that already made good use of this cut, such as Chinese and Korean cooking.
This recipe is inspired by Chinese flavors but draws more broadly as well. There's soy and ginger in the sauce but there's also whisky which gives it a lovely depth.
How to make this crisped pork belly
While this takes a bit of time to make, it's not difficult and much of it can be done ahead.
- First, you score the pork belly skin and rub in ginger and salt.
- Sear it in a pan suitable for the oven.
- Add the apple, whisky and star anise and roast for a couple hours.
- Let it cool then remove the skin, slice and fry to crisp it up.
- Separately, cook the sauce ingredients for a few minutes to reduce it down.
I have also served it with mashed sweet potato with the apples that were cooked in with the pork mixed through. Alternatively, you can just serve with the sauce for dipping in as a canape/hor d'oeuvre.
The slow cooking makes the pork really tender and frying slices helps give a nice mix of crisp outside with the soft, tender inside. You can do the first cook ahead of time and the store the pork in the fridge a day or two. Then when you are ready, slice and fry before serving.
This crisped pork belly has such a delicious mix of flavors and textures. The tender gently-crisp pork with smooth sweet potato mash, with just a hint of apple and ginger, finished off with a deeply flavorful sticky sauce. I've served it as small plates/an appetizer as it is relatively rich, but it's definitely enough to enjoy the wonderful flavors. And wonder when you'll be making it again, it's that good.
Try these other elegant appetizers:
- Scallops with cranberry bacon jam
- Oysters Rockefeller
- Beef carpaccio with truffle vinaigrette
- Tuna tataki (lightly seared tuna with a light Japanese dressing)
- Plus get many more ideas in the appetizer recipes archives.
Crispy pork belly with whisky-soy sauce
- 1 lb pork belly 450g
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground ginger plus dash
- 1 apple
- 1 star anise
- 2 tbsp whisky
- 1 cup sweet potatoes 250g mashed (optional) - 1large/2 small
For the sauce
- 3 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp whisky
- 1 tbsp honey
- Preheat the oven to 320F/160C.
- Score the skin of pork belly to form a cross pattern, about 1in/2.5cm apart. Rub the salt and ginger into the skin.
- Warm a little oil over a medium-high heat in a pan suitable for the oven and sear the pork on all sides. Finish with the skin side down in the pan and remove from the heat. Add the chunks of apple, star anise and whisky. Cover the pan and roast for 2 hours. Around half way through, put your sweet potato in to roast until tender (I roast whole in the skin), if using. Remove when it's done and set aside.
- Allow the pork to cool after it has cooked for 2hrs - you can either cool completely and store in the fridge for a day or two or just enough so cool enough to handle.
- When ready, slice the pork around ½in/1cm thick and remove the skin but leaving most of the fat. First of all, start making the sauce. Mix together all of the ingredients and simmer for around 10min until it reduces down and thickens. Set aside if ready before everything else.
- Fry the slices of pork over a medium heat - you won't need any oil as there will be enough fat coming out from the pork. Turn after a couple of minutes, cooking both sides until gently crisp.
- Meanwhile, scoop out the cooked apple and mix it in with the sweet potato along with a dash of ginger. Warm it through (either in a small pan or in microwave).
- Serve the crisped pork belly over the mashed sweet potato with the sauce drizzled over the top. Alternatively, you can use the sauce as a dipping sauce for slices of the pork served as a canape/hor d'oeuvre.
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