We have been getting whole, rind-on pork belly pieces quite regularly in our store lately and I very much wanted to roast a nice chunk for supper one night. Apple and sage always make a great pairing with pork in all forms and I decided to prepare the roast ahead of time in a way that the meat would be infused with the fragrances while cooking… Continue reading “Roast Pork Belly with Sage and Apple”
When I featured a commercially produced Chinese Preserved Pork Belly in a ‘Foodstuff’ post some time ago, I made a mental note to do a home-made version for you at some point. Unfortunately, whenever pork belly has appeared in our stores it has, until now, always been sliced and the slices are, as I discovered in a test recipe, just too thin to produce a decent result. A few days ago, however, I saw two one pound slabs of unsliced belly in our local store and I grabbed both of them. It is a shame that the rind has been removed but you can’t, as they say, have everything.
Many recipes for making preserved pork belly are quite complex and employ quite a variety of spices to flavor the meat. Some, especially recipes from Hunan, cold smoke the meat as well as salt-curing. Sichuan pepper is often used, as are Fennel, Cinnamon and Star Anise, but I don’t much care for the sweeter aromatics in this type of preparation and the version I will be making for you here is very straightforward and simple indeed…
The dish you see pictured above is prepared in the well-known Sichuan ‘Yu Xiang’ (魚香) style, which incorporates the spicy heat of chili against an umami background of bean paste with sweet and sour notes. The name ‘Yu Xiang’ is most accurately translated as ‘Fish fragrant’, but it has, in some unfortunate instances, been translated as ‘fish-smelling’ (as in ‘Fish Smelling Eggplant’) or, in one memorable but unfortunate translation, ‘Pork Shreds with Fish Odor’. The actual origin of the name and its relationship to the traditional ingredients is a fascinating one, and something I intend to cover in a more detailed post sometime, but for now just suffice it to say that no fish will be harmed in the preparation of this experiment, nor will the resultant dish smell, taste, or resemble anything even vaguely fishy… Continue reading “Experiment: Fish-fragrant Pork Belly with Pineapple”
Pork belly, the cut from the pig from which we make bacon, may seem like a bit of a mundane article to feature as a ‘Foodstuffs’ post but it is actually a very versatile and useful food product and deserves a special mention here.
For a long time, pork belly was a very rare item on our local grocery store shelf here in Arctic Canada, and though more common now, I still tend to buy it in large amounts whenever I see it. My only sorrow is that I have yet to be able to buy a large piece of belly with the skin attached and instead can only purchase it pre-sliced. The advantage to having a large piece is that you can slice it in any thickness you want or, alternatively, cook the whole piece as is for further use in any number of ways. Continue reading “Foodstuff: Pork Belly”