If you’re a fan of crispy pork belly, you know that the key to achieving that perfect texture is all in the preparation.
One crucial step in the process is boiling the pork belly before frying it. But how long should you boil it for? And does adding seasonings to the water make a difference?
In this article, we’ll explore the answers to these questions and more, so you can achieve the ultimate crispy pork belly at home.
So grab your apron and let’s get cooking!
How Long To Boil Pork Belly Before Frying?
Boiling pork belly before frying it is an essential step in achieving that crispy texture we all love. But how long should you boil it for?
The answer to this question depends on the cut of meat you have. Generally, pork belly is a more tender cut, so it only needs to be boiled for about 30-50 minutes. This time frame allows the meat to become tender while also rendering out some of the fat.
It’s important to note that boiling the pork belly with additional seasonings like garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, and soy sauce can make a significant difference in both appearance and flavor. Simmering the pork belly in these seasonings for a little over an hour can result in a more attractive light-brown appearance and a more flavorful end product.
Why Boil Pork Belly Before Frying?
Boiling pork belly before frying it may seem like an extra step, but it’s actually crucial in achieving the desired texture and flavor. Boiling the meat not only tenderizes it, but also helps to render out some of the fat. This is important because if the fat is not rendered out, it can make the dish greasy and heavy.
Boiling the pork belly also prepares it for high-heat cooking. The short boiling time primes the fat for frying, resulting in a crispy texture while still maintaining a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. This is especially important in dishes like lechon kawali and crispy pata, where a crispy texture is desired.
Additionally, boiling the pork belly with seasonings like garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, and soy sauce can add depth of flavor to the dish. These seasonings infuse into the meat during the boiling process, resulting in a more flavorful end product.
How Long To Boil Pork Belly For Optimal Texture
To achieve optimal texture when boiling pork belly, it’s important to consider the desired level of tenderness. For a steak-like texture, pork belly can be cooked at 74C/165F for 10 hours using a sous vide method. This extended cooking time breaks down the connective tissue and results in an extremely tender belly. However, for a succulent braise-like texture, pork belly can be boiled for 1-1.5 hours over low heat with added seasonings like soy sauce, ginger, scallion, wine, and star anise.
If you’re looking for a more traditional boiled pork belly dish like the Sichuan cuisine dish Boiled Pork Belly with Garlic Sauce, the pork belly should be brought to a boil over high heat and then simmered for about 1 hour. Using a chopstick to poke the pork belly while cooking can help determine if it’s ready – if the chopstick can go through the pork belly easily, then it’s done.
No matter the cooking method, it’s important to marinate the pork with salt and sugar overnight before boiling to make it tender and moist while injecting flavor into the flesh. And once the pork is boiled to perfection, it can be stored in the broth for up to 3-4 days or frozen without the broth for a few weeks.
Adding Flavors To The Boiling Water
If you want to take your boiled pork belly to the next level, consider adding some extra flavors to the boiling water. One popular method is to add Japanese sake and sliced ginger to the pot. This combination not only helps to tenderize the meat but also adds a unique flavor profile. If you don’t have Japanese sake on hand, you can use white wine or even a splash of vodka as a substitute.
Another option is to salt the pork belly liberally and boil it in seasoned water. This can help to infuse the meat with additional flavor and make it more savory. Additionally, allowing the pork to air-dry in the refrigerator overnight after boiling can result in extra crispiness.
If you’re a fan of Sichuan cuisine, consider boiling your pork belly with garlic sauce (蒜泥白肉). This dish is a popular favorite in both Chinese and Taiwanese households and involves boiling the pork belly for about an hour. You can use a chopstick to poke the meat while cooking, and if it goes through easily, then it’s ready.
When making Filipino-style lechon kawali, salting the pork and boiling it in seasoned water is also key. The exterior of this dish is salty and extra-crispy, while the interior is tender and moist with fat and juicy meat. To achieve this perfect balance of flavors, consider adding some bay leaves, whole peppercorns, and salt to the boiling water.
Ultimately, adding extra flavors to the boiling water can help take your boiled pork belly from good to great. Experiment with different seasonings and ingredients to find your favorite combination.
Preparing The Pork Belly For Frying
Once you have boiled your pork belly for the appropriate amount of time, it’s time to prepare it for frying. The first step is to remove the skin of the pork belly. This can be done by scoring the skin with a sharp knife. If you prefer less fat, you can remove the extra fat with the skin.
After removing the skin, soak the pork belly in clean water for 30 minutes. This process helps to remove any impurities and raw flavors from the pork belly.
Next, pat the pork belly dry with paper towels and cut it into strips of about 6 in x 1 1/2 in each. Rub a mixture of salt, pepper, and five-spice powder evenly onto the meat and sides of the pork belly. Rub remaining salt evenly onto the rind.
Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat and place the pork belly strips on their side. Cook each side for about 5 minutes before turning them over to cook on the other two sides. Finally, turn the pork belly strips skin side down and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until the skin is crispy.
If you prefer a deep-fried version of this dish, heat about 4 inches of oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Fry pork belly squares in batches until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Then heat about 4 inches of oil in another large saucepan to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C) and fry pork belly squares in batches a second time until skin “pops,” for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain on fresh paper towels.
No matter which method you choose, your perfectly boiled and fried pork belly is sure to be a hit at your next meal!
Tips For Achieving The Ultimate Crispy Pork Belly
Now that you’ve boiled your pork belly, it’s time to achieve that ultimate crispy texture. Here are some tips to help you achieve the perfect crispy pork belly:
1. Dry the skin: Before frying, make sure to dry the skin of the pork belly thoroughly. Use a paper towel to pat it down and ensure that there is no moisture left on the skin. Moisture can interfere with the crisping process, so it’s essential to remove all the moisture.
2. Score the skin: Scoring the skin before frying can help the fat render and ensure that the skin is even more crispy. Use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts on the skin, making sure not to cut into the meat.
3. Season well: Seasoning is key in achieving that ultimate crispy texture. Rub equal parts of baking soda and salt into the skin before cooking. This will help to draw out moisture and make the skin even crispier.
4. Fry at a low temperature: Frying at a low temperature is essential in achieving that perfect crispy texture. Cook the pork belly slowly at a low temperature, which will render the fat and make the meat juicy with crispy skin.
5. High heat finish: To get that ultimate crispy texture, you need to expose the pork belly to a sudden burst of high heat. Once the pork belly is cooked through, place it under a grill/broiler for 25 minutes, watching in amazement as it starts to puff and crackle and becomes soo crispy!!!
6. Use rock salt: Roasting covered in rock salt can also aid in achieving that crispy crackling on your pork belly. Salt draws moisture to the surface, helping to guarantee you’ll get crispy crackling every single time.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to achieve that ultimate crispy texture on your pork belly every time!