Food & Drink | September 6, 2022 6:30 am

Here’s a Crispy, Savory, Date-Night-Ready Pork Belly Recipe

A combination of Latin-American and Asian flavors, from the comfort of your own home

Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly
Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly
Back Door Monkey

Crispy and tender, fatty and flavorful, pork belly is delicious no matter how you slice it. But we’d argue that a touch of sweetness and spice makes this rich cut even tastier — and so, too, would chef Nicolas Caicedo of Wynwood’s Back Door Monkey, whose deep-fried pork belly cubes are an oh-so-moreish appetizer perfect for sharing.

“Back Door Monkey’s cuisine fuses influences from Latin America and Asia,” he says. “My inspiration for the dish came from wanting to combine different flavors together: salty, sweet and spicy.”

Spicy, in this case, doesn’t mean blow-your-head-off. Think sweet star anise or grassy coriander, both of which feature in the braising liquid that keeps this pork belly so flavorful and tender. It’s the second of a whopping three cooking methods this belly undergoes — which, according to Caicedo, together achieve “amazing” results.

If thrice-cooked pork seems like overkill, just remember: Pork belly’s strength is also its greatest weakness. Its high fat content, which lends it its crispy skin and rich flavor, can make it overwhelming and greasy. To balance out that fat, Caicedo first dries the belly out for 24 hours, uncovered, in the fridge, before searing it on a hot plancha until crispy and caramelized. It’s then braised in a flavorful, soy- and spice-infused stock before being chilled, cubed and deep-fried just before serving. It’s garnished with shichimi togarashi, a seven-ingredient seasoning blend combining chile, sansho pepper, sesame, ginger and nori — a balanced spice that everyone will enjoy. 

If you do like a bit more heat, however, you’re in luck. Caicedo serves this pork belly with two dips: a mild, sweet, garlic- and mirin-scented sauce and a spicier sriracha mayo. 

The only other thing you need? The perfect drink to go with it.

“The flavors in this dish pair well with beer,” says Caicedo. “My personal favorite is Kirin Light, Japanese-style light pilsner, but any beer that you prefer will pair nicely.”

Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

For the pork

  • 2 pounds pork belly
  • ⅓ pound yellow onion
  • ⅓ pound garlic
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ pound carrots
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 1½ teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons coriander seeds

For the sweet and spicy sauce

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon chives

For the spicy mayo

  • ½ cup kewpie mayo
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sriracha
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon chives
  • ½ teaspoon garlic

For serving

  • 1½ teaspoons togarashi seasoning
  • ⅓ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup cilantro

Directions:

  1. Rinse the belly and pat the skin dry with a clean towel. Once it is completely dry, transfer to the fridge and chill, uncovered, for 24 hours, to remove the moisture and keep the skin crispy.
  2. Slice the onions, carrots and garlic. On a medium-size rondo, sweat the vegetables over low heat for 40 minutes. Deglaze with the chicken stock and bring up to a boil over high heat. Add the spices, black pepper and salt. 
  3. Remove the pork belly from the fridge. Cut the belly in half, and heat up the plancha at 350 degrees. Sear the pork belly skin side down until crispy and golden brown. Sear the remaining sides, and transfer to a deep roasting pan. Cover with the marinade, and braise in a 300º F oven for 6 hours. 
  4. Transfer the cooked pork belly to a sheet pan and set aside to cool. Chill for 4 hours, or until compact and cold.
  5. Cut the chilled pork into 2”x2” pieces.
  6. Stir together all of the ingredients for the spicy mayo. Stir together all of the ingredients for the sweet and spicy sauce. Serve each in its own bowl or ramekin.
  7. Heat the fryer to 350 degrees, and deep fry the pork belly until crispy and golden brown. 
  8. Transfer to a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Serve in a round plate or bowl, and garnish with cilantro, togarashi and sesame seeds. Serve the sauces on the side.