Pork belly is exactly what it sounds like. This fatty cut of hog is considered to be a delicacy in many cultures. This versatile cut of meat can be used in a variety of different ways for a whole slew of different dishes.
From bacon to barbecue, we are gonna take a look at some of the many ways that pork belly can be prepared, and learn a bit more about why people all across the world are getting in line for this fine cut of swine.
In North America, pork belly is big business. You can find some form of pork belly at almost any upscale restaurant like Lionfish, a San Diego Restaurant. At street food stands and in upscale establishments alike, patrons are eating up this savory cut of meat about as fast as cooks can dish it out.
In the U.S., bacon is king of the cuts. The amount of bacon sold in the U.S. increased 5.4% year-over-year in 2018, with sales totaling $4.21 billion, according to data from the North American Meat Institute, That’s roughly three pounds of bacon per year for the average person.
It isn’t just Americans who love their bacon Either. Canadians apparently have quite the appetite for this salty and savory meat-treat as well. When asked to choose between bacon and sex, 43% of Canadians surveyed chose bacon, according to a survey conducted by Maple Leaf Foods back in 2010.
In South American cuisine, pork belly is a major staple across many cultures. In Peruvian cuisine, braised pork belly stew with apples and lime juice is a popular dish in homestyle cooking and restaurants alike. In the open air markets of Bogota Colombia, you’re likely to find vendors serving up fresh chicharrones colombianos, a snack made with pork belly that has been rubbed with spices and fried in hot oil until crispy.
In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, thin sliced uncured pork belly is used to make crispy pork tacos with fresh goat cheese. It is also used in place of pork shoulder to make a deliciously mouthwatering and tender variation on the classic sweet and savory dish known as carnitas de Puerco.
In Brazil, people enjoy Feijoada, a slow cooked combination of pork and beans, which traditionally includes the extra odds and ends from the pig including the belly, so that absolutely nothing gets wasted.
In South Africa, the hungry masses like to munch on braised pork belly that has been dry rubbed with salt, black pepper, and coriander, then slow cooked to perfection with root vegetables like carrots, garlic, leeks and potatoes, much the same way American pot roast is prepared.
People in Namibia commonly enjoy boerewors, or pork sausage prepared with ground pork belly, mixed with spices and herbs. This dish is a popular BBQ menu item as well as a tried and true hangover cure for when a few too many pints were had the night before.
In Germany, it’s almost impossible to walk into any Brauhaus and not smell the pungent aroma of braised pork belly and cabbage. This is the ultimate drunk food to soak up the vast amounts of dark Bavarian beer and Jagermeister that any American tourist is likely to consume.
In France, crispy pork belly confit seasoned with aromatic herbs like bay leaf, thyme, and rosemary is a very popular appetizer. In Italy, you can find thinly sliced, cured pork belly known as pancetta. Pancetta is similar to bacon, but is dry aged, delicate, and safe eat without cooking. Pancetta is commonly served along with cheeses and bread at the start of a meal.
In Chinese cuisine, Dong Po is a dish made with chunks of succulent pork belly that has been cooked by boiling in water, frying in hot oil, and then simmering for hours in a mixture of soy sauce and other seasonings. The result is some the most tender and flavorful pork belly found anywhere on earth.
In Korea, Pork belly is prepared in just about any way imaginable. From slow braised and pan seared, to stews, BBQ and more, Korean cuisine makes heavy use of this versatile cut of meat.
In Australia, a very popular dish is a slow roasted pork belly that has been marinated with oranges, star anise and cinnamon. It’s a big hit around holidays. Australians also love their bacon, as well as crispy fried chunks of pork belly.
Pork belly is one of the most versatile cuts of pork available, and it’s true magic lies in its simplicity.
Quite the Belly-Full
There is no denying the versatility and the usefulness of pork belly in cuisines from all around the world. Pork belly can be prepared through various cooking methods, and we have barely scratched the surface with this article. What are your favorite pork belly recipes? Leave us a comment in the section below.