I recently took a ramen making class at the Sharing Table in Emeryville where the teacher, Cynthia Fung, taught us a technique to make a simple roast pork belly. Her advice was to make sure that you poke the skin of the pork belly as much as possible to help the fat render. I tried it at home and it worked beautifully! The skin is crispy and the meat inside is juicy. One word of caution: your oven will get messy...but it is worth it. I've tried to add tips for how to reduce the mess. I've also added a simple side sauce to serve with rice or noodles. - wssmom —monkeymom
Test Kitchen Notes
This roast is so delicious. The crust becomes crisp, like a savory, hardened salty caramel, and the herbs do a beautiful job, perfuming the internal juicy meat of the roast. The technique of rolling the belly skin-side out made a big difference. I had my butcher take the bones out for easy rolling. Skewering the skin is a bit of a challenge, but the results are definitely worth the effort. You know your oven better than I do, but I would probably not go more than 1 1/2 hours at 450°F -- you don't want to dry this luscious baby out. And I’d recommend basting once or twice just to be safe. The numerous foil layers will probably keep you from having to clean your roasting pan, which is always a blessing. - favabean —favabean
Rinse pork belly then dry thoroughly with paper towels. Place on a cutting board. Using a skewer, poke the skin all over as much as possible. If the bamboo skewer stops piercing the skin it has probably become blunt at the end so discard it and use another. Repeat until you've used 5-6 skewers Do this for at least 5 minutes to really get lots of holes deep into the skin. I don't think you can pierce the skin too much!
Mix together salt and herbs. Flip pork belly over so skin side is down and rub half of the salt mixture into the meat. Drizzle with olive oil
Roll pork belly into a cylinder so that the skin is on the outside and the meat is all tucked inside. Tie the cylinder with the kitchen string in 3 places along the length of the cylinder.
Rub outside of skin with some olive oil, then rub the rest of the salt and herb mixture into the skin.
The next set of steps is to help with the spattering that will occur when you cook the pork belly. First, take very generous piece of foil out that is at least a half a size too large for your large roasting try or cookie sheet. Place that foil on the rack and tent the edges of the foil upwards. This will create some walls that help catch some splatters. With a smaller piece of foil, make a little 'tray' that is large enough for your rack. Place on the cookie sheet, then place the wire rack down into it and the pork belly on top of that.
Roast at 450 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The skin will become bubbled and crispy and a lot of fat will render into the pie/cake pan beneath.
Let pork rest for 10 minutes before cutting twine and slicing.
Hoisin Mushroom Sauce
Saute onions in olive oil until translucent and soft. Add mushrooms and continue to cook. They will absorb the oil and then shrink down. Let them brown a little.
Mix together hoisin, rice wine, salt, and the chicken stock. Add to the mushrooms once they have browned. Let the mixture come to a boil and reduce by quarter.
Mix cornstarch with 1 Tbsp of water or broth. Add to hoisin/stock mixture and stir vigorously. Cook until the sauce has thickened and no cloudiness remains. Add more broth or water if necessary to thin to desired consistency.
My favorite distraction is to cook. Though science and cooking/baking have a lot in common, I'm finding that each allows me to enjoy very different parts of my life. Cooking connects me with my heritage, my family, friends, and community. I'm really enjoying learning from the food52 community, who expose me to different ingredients and new ways to cook.