A little sweet, a little salty, with a hint of chilli … this twice-cooked pork belly with a sticky glaze makes the perfect addition to your Asian recipe repertoire. And today I’m sharing my secrets for cooking the most tender and juicy pork belly imaginable!
The secrets to tender pork belly
Unfortunately, pork belly has the reputation for being tough and chewy, very fatty, and not the most appetising of meats. This is a great pity, because in reality, pork belly is none of these things.
Properly cooked, pork belly is juicy and tender with unctuous layers of soft fat interspersed with layers of melt-in-the-mouth meat. Add a sticky spicy glaze, serve with fluffy white rice, and you have a meal fit for a king.
And today, I’m going to share my secrets to getting perfectly cooked pork belly, so you can enjoy it for yourself.
Secret number 1
The first secret is to simmer the pork rashers slowly in lightly salted water for at least 2 hours. You can get away with an hour and a half if you are in a hurry.
Cooking the pork slowly like this results in layers of soft, non-greasy fat, that melts into the layers of meat, turning them into succulent, flavoursome mouthfuls.
Secret number 2
Once the pork belly is cooked, we get onto the second secret. This is to slice the cooked belly rashers into smaller pieces and brown them in a frying pan.
Take your time over this step. Brown the meat slowly, turning it from a pale pinky-white colour to an appetising golden brown. Remember browned meat = lots of flavour.
Secret number 3
The third and final secret is to coat the meat in a sticky spicy glaze, adding the third layer of flavour, and shiny, thick and sticky coating.
This is twice-cooked pork. The first cooking tenderises the meat and renders out the fat and the second cooking browns the meat, turning it golden and appetising. I suppose you could call secret number 3 the third cooking, but actually, all you are doing in this step is coating the pork in the delicious sticky glaze.
What do you need?
To make this twice-cooked sticky pork belly you will, of course, need some pork belly rashers. Try and get nice thick meaty rashers, you don’t want think rashers that are not much thicker than bacon. The ones you are looking for are nice thick slices of pork belly, which are sometimes called Chinese pork belly ribs in the supermarkets.
For the sticky glaze you will need all the usual Asian flavours –
- soy sauce – for saltiness. I like to use dark soy sauce;
- ginger – you can use fresh ginger if you have some, but to be honest, I find it quite chore to peel and crush, so I keep a jar of crushed ginger in the refrigerator;
- honey and brown sugar – to provide the sweetness and stickiness;
- lemongrass and hoisin sauce for added flavour. Once again I keep a jar of lemongrass paste in the refrigerator for convenience. You can use fresh lemongrass if you prefer;
- chilli for a touch of heat;
- and vinegar – to cut through and balance the sweetness of the dish;
- you will also need olive oil for browning the meat.
How do you make it?
This is a very simple dish to make.
- Place the pork belly rashers in a pan of lightly salted water. Cover with a lid and adjust the heat so that the water is just simmering. Make sure there is sufficient water to just cover the pork.
- Leave to simmer for at least one and a half hours, two hours is better if you have the time. You can top up with extra water during the cooking time if necessary.
- Once the pork is cooked, remove from the water and leave until it is cool enough to slice. You can discard the liquid, or use it as stock in this recipe for leftover roast pork in garlic sauce.
- Slice the cooled pork rashers into approximately 1″ slices and then brown them in a little olive oil. Take your time, and turn the pork frequently to allow it to brown on all sides.
- Add all the ingredients for the glaze. Stir well and continue to cook on a low heat until the glaze has thickened and coated the pork. Stir frequently to coat the pork thoroughly. This will take approximately 5 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked pork pieces to a serving dish. Serve immediately with white rice and your choice of vegetables. I like to serve with broccoli for a touch of greenery, and a sweet vegetable like carrots.
You can make this dish in advance and store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before serving.
To serve, reheat in the microwave until piping hot and serve immediately. You can also transfer the pork belly and sauce to a frying pan and heat thoroughly before serving.
If you want to freeze pork belly, you can cook it until it has been browned and the freeze. Just allow the browned pork to cool and transfer to a large ziploc bag. You can freeze this meat for up to 2 months.
To prepare the frozen meat, allow to defrost in the refrigerator, and then tip the defrosted pork pieces into a large frying pan with freshly prepared glaze ingredients. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes until the glaze is thick and sticky and coats the pork. Serve immediately.
Do not refreeze.
If you enjoyed this recipe for sticky pork belly, you may also enjoy some of my other Asian inspired meals:
- Easy Szechuan chicken with noodles
- Sesame chicken with vegetable chow mein
- Garlic chicken stirfry in a toasty breadroll
- Pad Thai noodles with chicken and shrimp
- Garlic beef in oyster sauce with vegetables
Convert grams to cups
To help you convert your recipe measurements, I have created a handy Cookery Conversion Calculator which will convert ingredients between grams, ounces, tablespoons, cups and millilitres. I hope you will find it useful.
If you live at a high altitude you may find you need to adjust your baking recipes to compensate for this. You can read about how to do this in this post on baking at high altitudes.
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Twice-cooked pork belly – with a sticky glaze recipe
Twice-cooked pork belly with a sticky glaze
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- Saucepan with lid
- Frying Pan
- Small bowl
- 2 lb (900g) thick pork belly rashers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for browning the pork.
For the glaze
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon lemongrass paste
- 1 tablespoon runny honey
- 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
- 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Place the rashers of meat in a pan of cold, lightly salted water and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid, and leave to simmer for two hours. Top up with extra water if necessary. See notes.
- While the meat is simmering, measure all the ingredients for the glaze into a small bowl and mix well. Set aside. See notes.
- After two hours, remove the meat from the water and leave on a plate until it is cool enough to handle.
- Cut the meat into 1" pieces.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan then add the cut pork.
- Turn the heat down to medium and fry the pieces of pork, turning frequently, until they are browned on all sides. See notes.
- Add the glaze ingredients and bring to the boil. Stir until the glaze has thickened and the pork is well coated.
- Serve immediately with rice and your choice of vegetables.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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