Yields 2 servings/Time 6 hours

Pork belly is delicious, but it is also heavy. This makes belly — braised, then grilled — the perfect thing to pair with a salad. This salad is based on a popular one from Northern China called lao hu cai. It’s heavy on cilantro and scallions, gets a lot of crunch from bell peppers, and cuts right through the rich and fatty belly. The steps are few: braise the belly, fire up a grill, and assemble the raw, flavorful salad. It’s as easy as it is tasty. You might want to make extra to have more than two servings.

You will need:

For the Pork Belly

1 package pork belly (about 1 pound)
1 yellow onion, cut in half
1 head of garlic, cut in half
2 to 3 jalapenos (optional)
4 to 5 bay leaves
1 lime, cut in half and juiced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper, preferably cracked

For the Vegetable Salad
1 cucumber, seeds removed, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced (preferably different colors)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup roasted peanuts
Salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven to 300. Meanwhile, rub pork belly with salt and pepper.
  • Place belly fat side up in a roasting pan or dutch oven. Next, add onion, garlic, jalapenos, bay leaves, lime juice, and soy sauce. Add enough water to cover belly ¾ of the way. Cover roasting pan and braise in the oven for 6 hours, or until fork tender.
  • Remove from oven and let the belly sit in braising liquid until cool enough to handle. Then, take belly out of liquid and place on dish in the fridge
  • Strain and reserve braising liquid, place in fridge. When the braising liquid is cooled, remove the solidified fat from the top. Save for another use.
  • Make the salad by combining rice vinegar and sesame oil in a mixing bowl. Add cucumber, bell peppers, scallions, chili flakes, and cilantro. Toss until well coated and add peanuts. Adjust with salt and pepper as needed.
  • When the pork belly is fully cooled, cut lengthwise against the grain into four ¼ inch slices. Cut these in half so you have eight pieces in total. Set aside.
  • Prepare your grill. If you’re using a charcoal grill, make sure all are evenly glowing and a thermometer reads at least 375 F. Move coals, once ready, to one side, so you have a spot to grill over indirect heat. Keep water nearby in case of flare-ups.
  • Season pork belly slices with salt, then grill for three minutes per side, until heated through, slightly crisp, and with nice char marks.
  • To serve, make bowls with salad and four slices of pork belly.