An indulgent dish that takes hold of your senses and doesn’t apologize – Easy Baked Pork Belly is slightly spicy with hints of saltiness and sweetness; it’s super moist and super delicious!
It seems like a million years have passed since I’ve had pork belly. I remember the first time I had it; in fact, I remember it very well. John.e and I had just started dating. We were spending the weekend with my daughter and were invited to attend a birthday party at a horse-racing venue that Sunday afternoon.
So, on our ride back to Toronto from Kitchener, we made our way to Woodbine Race Track to help celebrate Vera’s 40th birthday. (Vera is a coworker and an extreme betting enthusiast!)
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We placed a few bets – and won a few – and took part in a buffet dinner. One of the items on the menu was barbequed pork belly. The name was off-putting, but I had to try it. I’d have a safe bet if I said I ate a pound or two of the stuff. In fact, I’m sure I gained a pound or two from that one meal, so that’s proof, right? 🙂
Recreating the dish was not something I was about to attempt. It’s one of those things that is best left untouched. Besides, it gives me a reason to harass Vera about hosting another one of her birthdays at Woodbine!
This particular dish uses pork belly, but I wanted to have a spicy version to accompany some good steamed rice. I previously cooked a Korean Vegetarian Beef dish that I loved the taste of, so without following that exact recipe, I wanted to mimic those flavours. This is what I came up with.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS RECIPE:
The list below lists what ingredients are needed and why they are important to this dish. A full list of ingredient measurements and preparation can be found in the recipe card near the bottom of this post.
- Pork Belly – Read the sections that follow which will guide you through which type of pork belly to use. Just remember to remove the skin – sometimes called a fat cap – before cooking. A butcher can do this for you, but try it at home. It’s quite easy!
- Garlic – Freshly minced garlic always pairs well with pork, especially in an Asian-inspired recipe like this one.
- Dried Red Chili Flakes – This is for heat. It is optional, so if you are not a fan of spicy food, leave it out.
- Soy Sauce – Use low-sodium soy sauce. It’s always a safe bet when cooking or marinating so that you don’t over-salt the dish.
- Rice Vinegar – A popular ingredient in marinades in Asian cultures. You can substitute it with Apple Cider Vinegar.
- Brown Sugar – This adds sweetness and helps with caramelization.
- Sesame Oil – Used to form a marinade, sesame oil has a nutty flavour but can be too strong if too much is used. Measure carefully!
- Ground Black Pepper & Salt
- Sesame Seeds – For garnish.
- Green Onions – For flavour and garnish.
WHAT PORK BELLY SHOULD I USE?
I’ve seen pork belly in two different formats. The first is a solid piece that resembles a package of thick-cut bacon. The second format looks like thick-cut bacon that has been laid flat. So, whole and un-sliced, and the familiar sliced version like that of bacon. Make sense?
For this particular dish, I bought a solid piece of pork belly – about 3 pounds in total. The skin was left on the pork belly, but I removed it. I find that the skin in this type of recipe is just too chewy and almost inedible.
If I were preparing a dry, roasted pork belly, I would leave the skin on and let it get really crispy – such a delicacy and you must try it if you have not done so already. If you want to leave the skin on for this particular Easy Baked Pork Belly, you certainly can.
WHAT IS PORK BELLY?
So what is pork belly anyway? A pork belly, like bacon, starts out from the underside of the pig. It isn’t the stomach, but the flesh that runs on the underside of the pig. Pork belly is uncured, un-smoked and un-sliced bacon.
Most chefs consider pork belly to be far superior to bacon. The pork belly has juicy fat layers wrapped around the meat. There isn’t much meat, but once cooked it becomes tender, similar in texture to a pork loin. And that fat is melt-in-your-mouth.
That melt-in-your-mouth feeling is exactly what you’re going to get from this particular recipe. Oh, my God – it’s so good! It’s super tender and so wonderfully easy to prepare. You’re going to love this dish!
HOW TO MAKE EASY BAKED PORK BELLY
Once you have removed the fat from the pork and cubed it into two-inch cubes, it’s time to make the marinade. To start, place all of the ingredients (except the sesame seeds, pork belly, and green onions) into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the pork belly pieces and toss to coat with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour.
Once marinated, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Remove the pork from the fridge and arrange it on the baking sheet being careful not to overlap. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, carefully turn each piece over, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Super easy, right?
This pork belly dish is sweet and a little bit salty. It’s also spicy, depending on whether or not you used the dried red chili flakes. And, just in case this is your first time having pork belly, it’s very fatty too. It’s the kind of fattiness that just melts in your mouth. I know it sounds bad, but it’s quite delicious. To offset the fattiness, you might want to consider serving this dish with what I consider to be a palate cleanser.
Make yourself a good coleslaw. I love my homestyle coleslaw. It’s creamy and probably the most common. But, if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not try my Jalapeno Buttermilk Ranch Coleslaw? It can certainly stand up to the strong flavours of this Easy Baked Pork Belly! The fresh, uncooked veggies in a coleslaw will most certainly pair very well with pork belly. It’s always good to balance out a fatty meal with something fresh and cool.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think anything other than coleslaw is needed. I love the combination of the coleslaw with the pork belly. But, if you want more options, consider a green salad with some acidic elements such as tomatoes and maybe a lemon vinaigrette. Plain white rice is a great option too if you want something more substantial. The key is to serve the pork belly with something that is fresh and/or muted in flavour. It works well every time!
Do You Like This Recipe?
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Easy Baked Pork Belly
- 3 pounds pork belly, skin removed and cut into 2 inch cubes
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 4 stalks green onions, chopped
- Place all of the ingredients (except the sesame seeds, pork belly, and green onions) into a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Add the pork belly pieces and toss to coat with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
- Arrange the pork belly on the baking sheet being careful not to overlap.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully turn each piece over, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
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