Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Years Braised Pork Belly

It is traditional to serve a braised pork shank or lower part of the leg to celebrate the new lunar year.  As that cut is usually quite fatty with little meat, it is not a favorite cut in our family.  It may come as a surprise, but yes, we have a fat limit.  I contemplated whether to substitute and decided on pork belly.  Why, just as fatty you might say.  But I have a source.  I have purchased my more than fair share of pork belly and the best place for it is at Uwajimaya.  The pork belly they stock is less fatty, albeit thinner than others because of the less fat.  They stock it expressly because they know the Asian community likes to braise it and just enough fat is all that's needed to impart good flavor.  But the fat is essential to the juiciness and flavor of the pork cooked this way.


2 lbs pork belly, skin on (I used two 1 lb pieces)
2 tbsp grade seed oil
6 scallions, cut into 3" pieces
3 garlic cloves, smashed
4 thick slices of ginger
2 oz rock sugar
1/3 cup dark soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine
1 cup water


Additional 2 bunches of scallions, trimmed and rinsed, cut in half (optional)


Bring a pot of water to boil and add the pork belly and boil for 10 minutes.  Drain and dry and paper towels.
Heat wok over medium high heat, add oil and brown pork skin side down first.  Be careful and use a splatter guard or lid as the oil will splatter quite a bit on the skin side.  The skin should be crisp and brown.  Drain the pork.
In a braising pot, combine scallions, ginger, rock sugar, soy sauce, wine and water.  Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar.  Add the pork, cover and simmer for about 2-2.5 hours, until very tender.  For holiday presentation purposes, I am going to attempt cutting the pork, so I don't want it fall apart tender.  If you are adding the extra scallions, add them to the pot about 45 minutes before finish time.  My dad loves scallions cooked this way with braised meat, so I add a lot of them.
Remove the pork and drain.  Cover, and let cool a bit before slicing.  Remove the ginger slices from the sauce.  Bring the sauce back to boil and ladle over the pork.  This will help rewarm the pork.  
So tender, succulent, and pretty, well, fabulous.

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