STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS WITH PICTURES
Let's blanch the pork first. Fill a pot with 2.5 liters of water. Add your pork belly in along with a few slices of ginger, a drizzle of Chinese cooking wine, 1 tsp of Sichuan peppercorns. Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Then switch to low heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
When it is done, take it out. Quickly use a fork to poke as many holes on the skin as possible. There will be some fat leaking out. Just use a paper towel to wipe it. Apply some dark soy sauce on the surface. This is for the color. The reason I say to poke holes quickly is that you want to apply the dark soy sauce while the pork is still hot. The color doesn’t attach well when it is cold.
Next, we have to dehydrate the pork skin. If you have a dehydrator, that will be the best. If not, you can use a fan like this to blow it for a few hours. If you don’t have a fan, just stick the pork belly into the fridge with the skin exposed for 24 hours.
The skin should feel like leather - very firm and a bit bouncy. Now we are ready for the next step.
Add 1/3 cup of oil to the wok and heat it to 380 F. Put the pork in, skin side down. Move it around for a few seconds to even it out. When you hear the oil starts sizzling, cover the lid immediately. Be very careful here because there is not an effective way to prevent the oil from splashing. I have tried drying the pork for a longer time or frying it at a lower heat. Some people even suggest putting some salt in the wok. All these methods don’t work. The only way to protect yourself is to cover the lid. And wear gloves if you are scared.
Flip to fry other sides. Keep the heat at medium-low all time. Each side needs a couple of minutes. This frying process is going to build up the flavor foundation as it creates so much mallard reaction. You can also do this process in an air fryer.
Ok, take it out. Let me show you how it should look. The skin should be little bit bubbly and crispy. The bottom has a dark brown color that looks like it is burned but it is not, it is just the color from the dark soy sauce.
Let it cool a little bit and slice it into 2/3 of an inch thick slabs. Add all the pork belly into a clay pot.
Put all the spices and aromatics in a spice bag:
- 4 slices of Kaempferia galanga, also known as sand ginger
- 2 pieces cloves
- 1 piece of cinnamon stick
- 1/2 piece of black cardamom
- 1 piece of star anise
- 3 pieces of bay leaves
- 3 pieces of hot dried chilies
- 2 tsp of Sichuan peppercorn
- 1/4 tsp of fennel seeds
- 2 pieces of scallion
- 5 slices of ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic
I know it is hard to collect all the spices so it is OK if you miss one or 2. It will not affect the taste that much. I will also link the ingredients in the description. You can check them out later.
Add the spice bag to the clay pot along with
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 1/2 cup of Chinese cooking wine or Shao xing wine
- 2.5 tsp of dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 2 liters of water
Bring this to a boil and taste to adjust the saltiness. I will add 1 tsp of salt here. Turn the heat to low. Let it simmer for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, we can prepare the noodles. I am using thick rice noodles. It does come with cooking instructions on the package but I do find that a pre-soaking in hot water gives it the best texture. You just bring a pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat. Drop the noodles in. If you don’t have rice noodles, you can use any type of noodles that you like and they may not require this pre-soaking, just follow the cooking instructions on the package.
They need to be soaked for about 20 minutes. You can give it a try. The center should be slightly chewy. If you soaked them 20 minutes right before the pork is ready, you can transfer the noodles directly into the clay pot and continue to cook. But if you are like me, soaked them way too early and the pork still got an hour to go. You have to transfer the noodles into the cold water so they are not overdone.
The pork has been simmering for 2 hours now. Let’s take a look. It should be really tender that it will like break apart. The skin should be wrinkly and spongy.
Taste the broth at this moment because you want to be accurate after the simmering. It should be much saltier than your normal taste because we still go lots of noodles and vegetables on the side. I add 1.5 tsp of salt here. Including the salt I added before, I used 2.5 tsp of salt in total. Take out the spice bag and add the rice noodles, which I have drain completely. Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil.
Once it comes to a boil, don’t cook it any longer otherwise the noodles will star breaking down. Toss in some baby bok choy or any other leafy vegetables that you like. Let it blanch for 20-30 seconds and dinner is ready!!
We like to serve this with some spicy pickled long beans (酸豇豆) or zha cai (榨菜). They do an amazing job at balancing the fattiness of the pork belly as well as providing a touch of fermented flavor. If you don’t have it, you can use other kinds of pickles such as Korean kimchi, sour radish, pickled cucumber, or jalapeno.
This looks amazing. The pork is very tender that you can break it apart with a pair of chopsticks. The broth is very rich and flavorful. The deep-frying really made a big difference. It makes this dish smells and tastes so wonderful.
I know I said you can use any type of noodles but rice noodles are so good. They have such a wonderful texture, so smooth, and a little bit bouncy. We have a word called 嗦粉 in Chinese. Suo is a verb that you take a little sip and the noodles will just slide into your mouth down to your belly because it is so slippery. It may not be the proper manner in your culture. But hey, who cares, it is so fun and delicious.