The Accidental Wino Pork Belly Project: Day Two

The rub.

In my most recent post, I had rubbed the pork belly with a liberal amount of Chinese five spice (pictured above) and let it “cure” overnight in the refrigerator. By the second day, the pork belly had developed a slight pellicle, and it had also became much more firm to the touch. At this point, nearly 24 hours later, it was ready for the braise.

I like to use a soy broth for this recipe, since it complements the five-spice flavor profile, and because it’s also relatively easy to prepare. With soy broth, the key is to use low sodium soy sauce, which allows for a distinct soy sauce flavor without making the broth overly salty. I’ve found that a good ratio for soy broth is 1/2 cup of low sodium soy sauce per every quart of water (that’s one part low-sodium soy sauce to eight parts water).

The pork belly spends about three hours in the braising liquid, gently simmering on very low heat, and covered. I’ve been able to cook just about every pork belly — regardless of variations in size and shape — in my six-quart stock pot. Although the belly may not easily fit into the stock pot at first, it will shrink during the braising process.

After three hours, you should be able to slide a paring knife into the belly with very little resistance. Once it’s finished braising, remove the belly from the liquid and refrigerate. Strain and reserve the brasing liquid (tomorrow, this flavorful liquid will become the base for the honey-soy glaze). The recipe for the soy broth is as follows:

Soy Broth Recipe (yields about three quarts)

• Water, two quarts

• Low-sodium soy sauce, 1 cup

• Carrots, peeled and rough-chopped, two each

• Celery ribs, rough-chopped, two each

• Onion, rough-chopped, one each

• Garlic, peeled and crushed, three cloves

• Fresh ginger, peeled and sliced, 1/4 oz (use ginger sparingly, or it can make the broth taste like soap)

• Chinese five spice powder, 2T + 2t (this is the remaining spice from Day One)

• Canola oil, 2T

Soy Broth Method

1. Heat canola oil in a six-quart stock pot and add the Chinese five spice powder, toasting the spices on low heat, being careful not to burn them. Once the five spice powder has become fragrant, add the water along with everything else.

2. Let the both simmer for 30 minutes (allowing all of the vegetables to yield their flavors to the liquid), then add the pork belly.

3. Turn heat to low and simmer the pork belly for three hours, covered.

4. Once the belly has become tender, remove it from the braising liquid and refrigerate. Strain the reserve soy broth for glaze recipe (Day Three).

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