Dong-Po Pork (Braised Pork Belly)
I had purchased some pork belly a while back that had been stored in a friend's freezer and it had been hinted to me that it was time to figure out what to do with it. I found a recipe for braised pork belly - Dong-Po Pork on an Australian website (The Old Voodoo Kitchen) and made some changes / substitutions, but the result was fantastic.
~2 pounds of pork belly (I had two good sized pieces that probably totaled maybe a pound)
2 Tbs Peanut Oil
6 Spring Onions chopped
Thumb sized piece of Ginger cut into slices
100 grams Rock Sugar (Chinese sugar = Chinese rock sugar = rock sugar. This includes yellow rock sugar = yellow lump sugar (pictured) or clear rock sugar. Substitutes: granulated sugar (sweeter; substitute 1 tablespoon for each Chinese sugar crystal)
50ml Dark Soy Sauce
50ml Light Soy Sauce
100ml Shaixing Rice Wine (I substituted Sake)
Scrape the pork belly it to make sure it’s free of bristles - a disposable razor can be used for this. Blanch the pork in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain well and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
Heat the peanut oil in a pan or a wok until it is very hot and then fry the pork belly in one piece until it has a good color and the skin is crisp and brown. Warning - this will cover you and your kitchen in hot oil - use a splatter guard if you have one. The skin has to be crisp or it will go chewy after braising it.
In a saucepan add the spring onions, ginger, rock sugar, soy sauces, and rice wine. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Add the pork, cover and simmer for between 2 and 4 hours until the pork is very tender. I simmered the pork for 4 hours and it was delicious.
Remove the pork, drain, and slice into about 3/4 inch slices - the pork will be falling apart. Strain the cooking juices, skim off the oil on top, and serve with the cooking juices on the side. The sauce makes a lovely dipping sauce for bread as well.
We enjoyed the dish with an off-dry chenin blanc from the Loire Valley - the Belliviere 2005 Coteaux du Loir Vieilles Vignes Eparses. From 50 to 70 year old vines this wine has apple, honey, minerals, and a little bit of residual sugar. It was a lovely match and would have been even better if the pork had been spicier.... next time perhaps I'll add some spicy peppers to the braising liquid.