forgive the re-post and length, but, here is what I like to do most with pork belly...
While perusing the Japanese food market for ingredients for my Osechi Ryori meals, I checked out the meat area, looking for high quality pork, and I was not disappointed. I found some nice chunks of Duroc Hog pork belly, perfectly sized for doing something with. I love hitting the Japanese market for pork, as the quality and variety of pork is almost always of a very high quality. This pork had glistening white fat, a nice deep pink flesh and when unwrapped, a nice clean smell.
It made sense to do something with the smoker, then again, I really like Siew Yuk, the crispy skin pork belly becoming so popular these days. What I decided to do was go for something inbetween. I prepared a marinade of various Asian-ish ingredients and let the pork belly marinade in it. I did not score the meat, as I would have for siew yuk, I will probably go ahead and score it next time. I marinaded overnight and in the morning, removed it, scored the fat and let it air dry on a rack.
30 minutes into drying
I heavily docked the fat with a small sharp skewer. Then wiped the fat clean to make sure there was no moisture and sprinkled equal amount of kosher salt and medium grained turbinado sugar onto the fat side. This was a light covering. I also prayed a little cider vinegar onto the fat. This all sat for 2 hours under a fan. I wanted to dry the surface as much as possible. I was already running the UDS at smoking temperature, somewhere around 235F or so,which would never do, so I fired up the kettle and got a nice small hot fire going. I took the belly pieces and put them fat side down over the hot fire for a couple of minutes, just to start the caramelization of the fat. It took very little time for each piece to become golden colored, I then put them into the UDS. It smoked for 3 hours over hickory. I pulled when the fat seemed to be fairly rendered.
Off the smoker
I believe it would have turned out better if I had scored the flesh, although, after the 3 hours in the smoker, the fat was almost confit like and the meat was very tender. The top of the fat got nice and crispy and it had the flavor of a light hickory smoke. The close up...
Note texture and crisp top
I hope this photo shows that the fat has rendered and the fat cap has fully caramelized, with the darker parts offering a slightly bitter counterpoint to the earthy hickory smoke and sweet pork. I served two of the pork belly chunks by simply chopping them up and dusting them with a coarse textured turbinado sugar (what? you don't keep multiple sized grains of 3 or 4 types of sugar in your house?) and putting them out on a plate. This would have been really good with some plum sauce.
I also braised some pork belly, I need to see if I have any info on what I did with that.
1/8 cup shoyu
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons or so of white port, sherry or whiskey (I used white port)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (untoasted, expeller pressed)
1 large pinch Phu Quoc black pepper, fine grind (fresh ground)
1 star anise piece (whole, use a good large one)
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg (untoasted, fresh ground if possible)
Blend all ingredients in marinading vessel (plastic bag for me) and add meat. Shake and turn bag at least 2 times during a marinde time of 4 to 6 hours. Opp, found it, I added the pork belly, along with some bamboo shoot, shiitake mushrooms, chicken stock, bonito stock and some green onions to a brasier and let it braise in the oven for 2 hgours. This is an umami and fat bomb of a dish. I find all of this post to be too much for me nowadays, but, it seems many can still eat more than a couple of chunks or a spoonful. Here is that braised dish.