Hey guys. Guess what? I’m feeling better! I still have a nagging cough, but I can sleep and breathe, so that rules. I’m really excited to rejoin humanity. I went to the doctor and got a nebulizer treatment, which really kicked my ass into gear, or so it seems. I also got an inhaler. I’m ready to go! Not much to update, other than that. I’ve just been trying to take it easy. I’ve been taking lots of vitamins and hoping that this is the only time I get sick this winter. I read that the flu is already seriously taking its toll around the US, and with my compromised immune system, I’m terrified of going from this respiratory problem to the full-blown flu. I will continue to chug vitamin-c supplements and eat my vegetables, but there’s no avoiding the fun cooker that is the subway during this time of year. I can see the fear in everyone’s eyes when I’m on the train. Whenever someone coughs or sneezes, everyone in the car seems to take a collective step back and stare daggers into the back of their head, as if to accuse them of trying to infect everyone on purpose. What can we do? We use public transportation and need to get to work. You may or may not catch what I’ve got. Welcome to New York.
If there’s one thing that can lift my spirits, though, it’s pork belly. Sweet, sweet pork belly. When I first moved to the city, it was one of those things that you didn’t really see on many menus around Phoenix (at the time, anyway) and I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. The crunchy, crispy skin juxtaposed with the juicy, melt-in-your-mouth fat is truly addictive, and you can get it in a variety of different ways. In buns, on sliders, in soups, stir-fries…I’ve even seen it in tacos! Pork belly madness has officially swept the nation, and I am happy to be on board. My favorite spot to order pork belly is a tie between the ‘pork betty’ dish at Bozu in Williamsburg and the always trusty (and overfilled) buns with pickled veggies at Momofuku Noodle Bar (with lots of sriracha on top). Honestly, though, I’ve never had pork belly that I didn’t like. The key to making perfect pork belly is wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap with a generous amount of salt and sugar and refrigerating it for 24 hours. This takes a little planning ahead, but the results are completely worth it. My favorite way to eat pork belly is with a fried egg, otherwise known as nature’s perfect sauce, and some simple white rice, but I wouldn’t mind a side of sauteed bok choy or some other greens to off-set my indulgent meal.
Joel checking out our new lightsaber.
- 2 pounds pork belly
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup soy sauce (I used Kecap Manis, which is basically a thicker, sweeter soy sauce – add more honey if using regular soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons sriracha
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- sliced scallions (for garnish)
- First, you want to lightly brine your pork belly. Combine the salt and sugar and rub it all over the pork, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 4 hours, but really, overnight is best).
- When you’re ready to cook, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse the pork belly of any brine mixture and pay dry. Score the skin or fat on the pork belly if it looks thick. Place the pork on a rack in a baking sheet lined with foil (or a roasting pan), then cover the pork in foil and roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- While the pork roasts, combine your sauce ingredients in a small pot over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and cook until just slightly thickened, about 6-8 minutes. After the pork has roasted for 1 hour and 30 minutes, remove it from the oven and raise the temperature to 450 degrees F. Brush the pork with the sauce and put it back in the oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove the pork again, flip it, brush with the sauce, and roast for another 10 minutes. Finally, flip the pork again, brush it with the sauce again (make sure to reserve a bit to serve the pork with later), and roast for 15 minutes, until the top is very crispy. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and serve over rice (and, hopefully, a fried egg) with any remaining sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.