Braised Pork Belly

Braised Pork Belly-2


This season of healthy eating lasted, oh, about 5 minutes?  I finally got around to buying a slab of pork belly (I’ve eaten it but have never cooked with it) so I could roast it and make some pork buns Momofuku-style.  There’s a noodle shop in Maui that serves them (in fact, a lot of their dishes, it seems to me, have been “borrowed” from the David Chang cookbook).  I’ve visited three times in as many trips.  The first time my husband and I ended up leaving after a 45-minute wait at the bar without being given a table despite several that became available during our wait.  I returned on a subsequent trip; they were new then and might have still been trying to figure things out.  This second time I got to sample the food; while not excellent their ramen did satisfy my noodle cravings and their pork belly buns were nicely done.  The pork strips were nicely caramelized and crisp, served with pickled veggies and sandwiched between a soft, steamed bun.  On this last visit I again ordered a bowl of ramen and the pork belly buns, only to be disappointed.  The noodles were too soft and the pork belly limp and flavorless.  Unless I get desperate for a noodle fix, I’m not sure there will be a fourth visit.


Braised Pork Belly


Truthfully, I prepare healthy meals at home most of the week.  I bend the rules once in a while just to satisfy my cravings.  I prepare pork once or twice a month (if even that often), chicken once or twice a week and beef very rarely (usually when company’s around).  The rest of the time it’s fish and vegetables.  So I didn’t feel too guilty about having a slab of fatty pork belly in the refrigerator but each day that passed lowered the possibility of pork belly buns happening in my kitchen.

I simply had no time.

And I wanted to make sure my version would be worth writing about so I wouldn’t have to eat my words for being so critical of my experience at this Maui restaurant.

Time was running out–I don’t like for meat to sit for too long in the refrigerator for too long.  What happened instead was this braised dish.  I’ve also long wanted to try Chinese-style braised pork belly.  I used the spices typical for the dish but also improvised with method and by adding an ingredient or two.  I skipped the rice wine and the sugar but I used kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) to sweeten the dish a little.  I added cinnamon just because, I added a splash of vinegar and used chicken stock to add more flavor to the braising liquid.  My biggest departure from the traditional preparation was that I baked the pork first.  My intention was to broil the meat to create a crisp exterior so it wouldn’t fall apart while braising but all the fat being rendered scared me (I tried broiling and lasted only five minutes).  I was afraid I’d start a fire in my oven.  Instead, I baked the pork for under 30 minutes–I’m not sure that this helped much but I liked that the five spice powder adhered to the meat better and lent a lot more flavor to the finished product.

The result was a cross between Chinese braised pork belly and Filipino adobo.  I really liked the delicate flavor from the spices and my use of sweet soy sauce and vinegar kept the dish from being too sugary.  My first taste reminded me of Filipino estofado, another slightly-sweet braised pork dish.  Overall, I was very happy with how this turned out.  Just so you know, I never actually eat the fat so there was very little meat to enjoy here.  The fat does impart a lot of flavor but I would use a combination of meats next time.  It’s all about the glaze, after all.  It’s what I drizzle over hot, steamed rice.  That’s the best part!


Braised Pork Belly-3



5.0 from 5 reviews
Braised Pork Belly
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The meat is meltingly tender, sticky and just slightly sweet.
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 2
  • 1½ pounds pork belly, rinsed well and dried with paper towels (mine came in three strips that were about 1½ inches wide)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons plain vinegar (cider should work, too, but not balsamic)
  • 1 dried star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • About 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • 2 dried whole chilies (I split one to add a little more kick)
  • olive oil for brushing
  • salt and pepper
  • Chopped chives for garnish (they actually complement the dish well)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Set the pork belly strips on a foil-lined baking sheet skin side down. Brush the tops and sides with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and using the same brush, dip it in the Chinese five spice powder and brush also on the tops and sides of the pork. Roast the seasoned pork for 15-20 minutes. I'm not sure that this was necessary but it did help to adhere the spices on the meat and kept them flavorful while they braised.
  2. Take the meat out of the oven and cut them in squares. Add to a medium saucepan with the rest of the ingredients: stock, kecap manis, vinegar, star anise, cinnamon stick, dried chilies and garlic. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 40-50 minutes. By this time the meat should be very tender and the braising liquid reduced to just about ¾ cup. The sauce will continue to thicken and reduce even after you've turned off the heat. Transfer the pork to a serving plate and pour the sauce on top. Serve with rice.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Yum yum that looks good. So do you cut the fat off before serving, or while eating? I’ve been wanting to try pork belly but am a little intimidated. I’ve pinned this recipe for later.

  2. Wow, this looks totally worth throwing the healthy resolutions out the window, at least for a day 🙂

  3. Beautiful presentation, Jean! Love the star anise!

  4. Oh my. What a mouth-watering preparation, Jean! I believe in balance most of all, and since I’ve been pretty good, what with a week of my Monster Green Power Smoothies (just posted) I can drool over this and start thawing the pork belly in my freezer with this in mind. I actually have all the ingredients on hand, except for the sweet soy – what would be a good substitute? (Hubs can’t do soy sauce) Beautiful warm light in your photos 🙂

  5. WOW Jean! I have never cooked pork belly . Love this recipe. I am with you, I often eat around the fat and just devour the meat. (same with bacon). Love, love your photos!!!! Happy Sunday!!!!

  6. They couldn’t be more fatty — and tasty! Looks like you did a great job.

  7. That looks absolutely delicious! It looks packed with so much flavors!

  8. Beautiful Jean, wowzers-love the recipe and the photos-it’s so hard to keep the healthy eating going especially when there is so much good food out there!!!!

  9. Oh, this looks gorgeous! I love to eat pork belly, though I only have it once it a while. I will have to try your recipe soon… thank you! 🙂

  10. I have never made pork belly. But these photos make me want to really badly! Drooling!

  11. Ooooh this is so good! I happen to have a slab of pork belly I got from the Asian market and all the above ingredients. Must try your recipe right away. Thanks for sharing, Jean! Your photos are so gorgeous I could just eat my own laptop!

  12. Wow! This is so mouthwatering. I felt the contraction in my jaw when I saw this post. Happy New Year, Jean!

  13. That dish looks amazing! I am a big fan of pork belly.



  14. I haven’t tried to make my own pork belly and I would feel terribly guilty about it for some reason even though I’m like you and eat pretty healthy most of the time. 🙂 your photos do make me want to try it sometime.

  15. I am not sure I have ever had pork belly before. I had a recipe that called for it once, but I could not find it anywhere in the town I live. I might have to look again though, because this looks fabulous!

  16. I’m afraid I would eat every bit of the fat, Jean. 🙂 This looks sizzlingly perfect, and I’m sure gives that place in Maui a run for its money! Love the fusion of flavors, it sounds phenomenal!

  17. Nothing wrong with indulging once in a while – to live a little. I’m sure these pork belly were soooo worth the ‘trouble’. Once you’ve tried pork belly, there’s no going back! Love the recipe, Jean. Will try to catch up with pinning soon – darn reno!

  18. I love pork belly too but I just bite off the fat area and “waste” it. I am never a fan of those jelly fat area of the meat. So I have been wasting fatty area of meat all my life… But the meat part of pork belly is so good!!! Never made pork belly with kecap manis. This is something I look forward to try!

  19. Beautifully done Jean! My boys just love pork belly and believe it or not, I have actually make it for them a few times 🙂 Great flavors and gorgeous as always!


  1. […] it’s another pork recipe, but this Braised pork belly looks gorgeous – all sticky, sweet, and spicy (via Lemons & […]

Id Love to Hear from You


Rate this recipe: