Hi, my name is Chris and I’m in love with crispy pork belly! Seriously, I could eat this every day – different healthy sides with it, but every day. Yes there is something about the crackle of that skin that just makes this dish one of my favorites. I’ve tried numerous recipes for getting this just right. I’ve even cheated and broiled the skin at the risk of drying out the pork just to hear that crackle in my mouth from each bite. Never quite happy with the result – always tasted great, but not always the right mouth feel.

So when I read about this procedure, I knew it would be perfect. It’s not a new technique, Chefs have been baking in salt (and with salt) for probably as long as salt has been around. In fact, in Chef School we did fish this way and it was absolutely delicious, I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection earlier. In this case, the salt on top of the skin draws out the excess moisture so when the salt crust is removed after 1 hour of baking, and it is a fully formed crust, one piece – take a look at the pics below, you have a drier surface.

The dryness of the crust ensures that as the pork belly bakes, it crisps up. The marinade never touches the skin and I think that’s the mistake I used to make as I would coat the skin with marinade when baking. I thought it would add extra flavor, and it did, but it never gave me that crispy crackling we all crave. I think next time I might try and spice up the salt for additional flavor – maybe some cayenne and garlic powder – I’ll let you know when I try it. By the way, I know they all say to score the skin before baking, I didn’t. I also find it is much easier – unless you have one of those cleavers that are razor sharp and know how to use it, to turn it upside down and then cut through in slices/chunks.

The nice part about this recipe is that it is almost self-sustained. In other words, you are not standing there working on it. Let the heat of the oven work it’s magic. Just keep an eye on it and time everything using your oven timer or phone alarm – I need the oven timer or I’d have Burnt Crispy Pork Belly. So here is a treat that can be served as an appetizer, a side or a main. As an appetizer, with a little bit of spicy salsa, as a side, with a nice coleslaw, as a main with rice and sauteed veggies. Give this recipe a try, I promise it will turn out, just follow the directions as I did. As always – enjoy!

2 lb pork belly
1 cup salt

1/4 cup soy sauce – I used the light kind, low sodium
1/3 cup rice wine
2 tbsp. brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced/mashed
2 tbsp. sambal oelek or 1 tsp cayenne

Using a paper towel, pat skin of pork belly until it is completely dry
Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl and then pour into a rectangular pan that is big enough to hold the pork belly – I used an 8×8 baking dish
Place pork belly into the container, making sure only the meat touches the marinade and the skin stays completely dry. If the marinade level is too high you can pour some of it out. Place in fridge for several hours or overnight – I did 2 hours, but overnight would be ideal
Remove the pork belly from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to start roasting and remove the pork belly from the marinade – discard the marinade
Preheat oven to 350F
Line an 8×8 dish with foil – it will make clean up easier, and place a small baking rack into the dish
Add enough water to just stay below the surface of the wires on the rack
Place the pork belly on top of the wire rack – cooking the pork belly this way will ensure a moist roast
Keep the pork belly level as you want the heat from the oven to cook the skin evenly. Place something under the lower side if it is not level i.e. fold up some foil or parchment – this is really important as it ensures even crispiness
Now this is the part where you have to believe and trust me – spread 1 cup of salt evenly across the pork belly skin – put the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes – the pork will not be cooked at this stage –an oven thermometer inserted into the center would register about 125f – 130f depending on the oven
Remove pork belly from the oven and increase oven temperature to 465f
The salt should have formed a crust which you should easily be able to remove in one or two pieces – see picture below
When the oven has reached 465f, place the pork belly back into oven and bake for another 30 minutes until the skin is completely bubbly and crisp
A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part should register 160f
Let pork belly cool a few minutes before cutting and serving
I find it’s easier to turn it upside down and cut through, that way, each piece of meat ends up with a delicious piece of crackling
Alternately do it Chinese deli style with a sharp cleaver and confident you won’t chop your hand off
Enjoy served with steamed rice and soy stir fried vegetables (or on it’s own)

Note: Cut up only what you are going to eat at that meal, leave the rest in a big piece. This makes it easier to warm and crisp up the next day – 400f 10 minutes – uncovered!

Pork Belly1

Pork Belly with Salt Crust half way through process.

Pork Belly2

Removing the crust half way, don’t worry if it breaks, just take all of it off the pork belly.

Pork Belly3

Sliced pork belly!

Pork Belly4

More sliced pork belly – well why not!!