Packets of Crispy Roasted Pork Belly with Cucumber, Basil, Lime and Chili Salt

Thịt Heo Quay

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    30 to 60

    bite size pieces (plus extra pork for snacking)

Appears in

In Huế, central Vietnam I experienced “pork belly lust” when I spotted a street vendor selling crispy, spit-roasted pig. Not a word was spoken as I approached crunchy hog heaven. Lusty salivation is a universal language. Thịt Heo Quay, read the sign. Ms. Quy wordlessly assembled a sample for me to taste. She plucked a faintly bitter green leaf of yu choy, into which she folded a small piece of pork belly, a sliver of cucumber, a sprig of Vietnamese coriander, and a fragrant leaf of Asian basil. Before relinquishing the delicacy, she anointed it with a squeeze of lime. Then, she rolled it up like a Cuban cigar, pressed it into my palm, and instructed me to dip it in chili-salt. The instant I placed this pleasure packet in my mouth, I took in the multilayered flavor experience. My pork guru motioned to some fresh green peppercorns, signaling me to pop some into my mouth. WOW. That spark elevated the pleasure I was feeling to a whole other level. I knew I had to convince her to teach me the secret of this gustatory perfection. She did. So now I pass on the culinary treasure of roasted pork belly to you!.

If you have a rotisserie, this is the time to use it. I have a Ronco rotisserie that the ubiquitous Ron Popiel handed to me at his lavish home. It works very well for a home kitchen. This recipe calls for 2 lbs. (1 kg.) pork, which yields slightly more meat than you will be able to use in the packets. This allows you to choose the best morsels for serving. I always find that the extra roast pork disappears before we even get to assembling the bundles.

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Ingredients

Roasted Pork

  • 2 tsp. Chinese rice wine (Shao Xing)
  • 3 tbsp. Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp. Sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. Five spice powder
  • 2 tsp. Ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk Lemongrass, trimmed and minced
  • 5 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 lb. (.9 kg.) Pork belly, skin-on, boneless
  • 1 tbsp. Vegetable oil

Accompaniments

  • 1 to 2 bunches (30 to 60 leaves) Choy sum, yu choy or other slightly bitter greens (spinach is fine in a pinch)
  • 1 small Cucumber, Kirby variety preferred, sliced into -inch (0.3 cm.) thick rounds
  • 8 to 12 sprigs Vietnamese coriander (rau răm) or a mixture of mint and cilantro
  • 8 to 12 sprigs Asian basil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, sliced, about 1/18 inch(0.3 cm.) thick
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh or brined Green peppercorns (drain and rinse if brined)
  • 2 to 3 medium Limes, cut into Southeast Asian style wedges
  • 2 tbsp. Vietnamese Chili-salt (below)

Method

  1. Marinate the Pork: (4 hours or day ahead marinade). Score skin as seen in PHOTOs then rub pork skin with wine (skin side only!). Whisk together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, kosher salt, sesame seeds, five spice, black pepper, lemongrass, and garlic; rub over entire surface of the pork, lightly on the skin side. Transfer to a container, skin side up (so skin does not sit in marinade), and marinate in the refrigerator for minimum of 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Roast the Pork:

    • To Roast in Oven: Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C) with middle rack in place; place pork on roasting pan or large sauté pan with ovenproof handle. Roast in oven for 1¼ hrs, until meat is becoming tender, and skin is getting brown and crisp. Turn on broiler and watch carefully rotating pan as needed to get an evenly bubbled surface with a dark brown color, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Cut into bite-size pieces when everything else is ready.
    • To Roast on a Rotisserie: Thread pork belly onto rack. Set rotisserie to medium temperature. Roast, 1½ hrs, or until pork belly is tender, and skin is deep brown and crisp. Cool to room temperature. Cut into bite-size pieces.

  1. Arrange choy sum leaves, cucumber slices, herb sprigs, garlic cloves and lime wedges on a large platter. Fill a small bowl with peppercorns and place on platter.
  2. Add ½ tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. water to the 2 tbsp. of chili salt. Fill small bowls (one per person) with a 1 tsp. of this mixture.

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