Jose Mier in Sun Valley, CA Astounded By Pork Belly Recipe

Pork belly site Jose Mier Sun Valley

Jose Mier in his Sun Valley, CA kitchen is itching to try braised pork belly after seeing it on the Spice the Plate website.

Pork belly, an indulgent and versatile cut of meat, has found its way into cuisines across the globe, becoming a beloved ingredient for its rich flavor and tender texture. This essay explores the many facets of pork belly, including its history, culinary uses, cultural significance, cooking methods, nutritional value, and its role in both traditional and modern culinary landscapes. By the end, you will have a comprehensive understanding of why pork belly has captured the hearts and taste buds of food enthusiasts worldwide.

Pork belly site Jose Mier Sun Valley
Pork belly site Jose Mier Sun Valley

History and Cultural Significance

Origins and Historical Context

Pork belly has been a staple in various cuisines for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to ancient China, where it was appreciated for its flavor and versatility. Historical records indicate that pork has been a crucial part of Chinese cuisine since the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC). The popularity of pork belly grew over time, and it became a fundamental ingredient in many traditional dishes.

In Europe, pork belly was historically valued for its high-fat content, which provided a necessary source of calories during harsh winters. It was often cured or smoked to create bacon, a practice that dates back to Roman times. The preservation techniques developed during these periods allowed pork belly to be stored for long periods, making it a reliable food source.

Cultural Significance

In East Asian cuisines, pork belly holds a special place. In China, dishes like Dongpo pork, named after the famous Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo, highlight the cultural importance of this cut. Dongpo pork is braised slowly with soy sauce, sugar, and various spices, resulting in a tender, flavorful dish that symbolizes prosperity and good fortune.

In Korean cuisine, samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly) is not only a popular dish but also a social experience. Koreans often gather around a grill, cooking and eating samgyeopsal together, making it a symbol of communal dining and social bonds. The method of grilling pork belly at the table and consuming it with various side dishes, like kimchi and garlic, adds to its cultural and culinary significance.

In Western cuisine, pork belly’s transformation into bacon has cemented its place in breakfast and brunch menus. The crispy, salty slices of bacon have become an integral part of American and British food culture, often associated with comfort and indulgence.

Culinary Uses and Techniques

Global Dishes Featuring Pork Belly

Pork belly is a global culinary treasure, appearing in a wide range of dishes across different cultures:

  • Chinese Cuisine: In addition to Dongpo pork, pork belly is essential in dishes like Hong Shao Rou (Red Braised Pork Belly) and the famous Peking duck, where it provides a flavorful base for the dish’s rich and savory notes.
  • Korean Cuisine: Beyond samgyeopsal, pork belly is also used in bossam, a dish where the meat is boiled and then wrapped in lettuce leaves with a variety of condiments.
  • Japanese Cuisine: Buta no kakuni (braised pork belly) is a popular dish, where the pork is simmered in soy sauce, mirin, and sake until it becomes tender and flavorful.
  • Filipino Cuisine: In the Philippines, lechon kawali (crispy fried pork belly) is a beloved dish, where the meat is boiled, air-dried, and then deep-fried to achieve a crispy exterior and tender interior.
  • American Cuisine: In addition to bacon, pork belly is often slow-roasted or braised in barbecue dishes, providing a melt-in-your-mouth experience that is rich in flavor.

Cooking Methods

The versatility of pork belly allows it to be prepared using a variety of cooking methods, each bringing out different aspects of its flavor and texture.

  1. Roasting

Roasting pork belly is a popular method that results in a crispy skin and tender meat. The key to achieving the perfect roast pork belly is to score the skin and rub it with salt, allowing the fat to render and the skin to crisp up. The meat is often seasoned with a blend of spices, herbs, and sometimes a marinade to enhance its flavor. The result is a dish that is both visually appealing and delicious, with a satisfying contrast between the crunchy skin and the juicy meat.

  1. Braising

Braising is a slow-cooking method that involves cooking the pork belly in liquid at a low temperature for an extended period. This method is particularly popular in Asian cuisines. The braising liquid typically includes ingredients like soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, and various spices, which infuse the meat with deep, complex flavors. The slow cooking process breaks down the collagen in the meat, resulting in a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

  1. Grilling

Grilling pork belly, as seen in Korean samgyeopsal, involves cooking the meat over direct heat. This method imparts a smoky flavor and a crispy exterior while keeping the inside juicy. The pork belly is often sliced thin and cooked quickly, allowing diners to enjoy the meat with various dipping sauces and accompaniments.

  1. Frying

Frying pork belly can produce incredibly crispy results. In Filipino cuisine, lechon kawali is deep-fried until the skin is crackling and the meat is tender. This method requires careful preparation to ensure the meat is properly cooked and the skin achieves the desired crispness without becoming too greasy.

  1. Smoking

Smoking pork belly is a method commonly used in barbecue. The meat is seasoned with a dry rub and smoked slowly over wood, allowing it to absorb the smoky flavors. This method results in a tender, flavorful pork belly that can be served as a main dish or used in sandwiches and other preparations.

Nutritional Value

Pork belly, like all meats, provides essential nutrients, but it is also high in fat. Understanding its nutritional profile is important for those who wish to enjoy it as part of a balanced diet.


Pork belly is rich in protein and fat. A 100-gram serving of pork belly typically contains around 14 grams of protein and 53 grams of fat, of which a significant portion is saturated fat. The high fat content contributes to its rich flavor and tender texture but also means it should be consumed in moderation.


Pork belly is a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including:

  • B Vitamins: Pork belly contains B vitamins such as B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, and B12, which are essential for energy metabolism and neurological function.
  • Iron: This mineral is important for the formation of red blood cells and the transport of oxygen throughout the body.
  • Zinc: Zinc supports the immune system and plays a role in cell division and growth.

Health Considerations

While pork belly can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, it is important to consider its high saturated fat content. Consuming large amounts of saturated fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Therefore, moderation is key, and pairing pork belly with vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods can help create a more balanced meal.

Modern Culinary Trends

Pork belly has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, particularly in the culinary world where chefs are constantly experimenting with new techniques and flavor combinations.

Farm-to-Table Movement

The farm-to-table movement, which emphasizes the use of locally sourced and sustainably raised ingredients, has brought renewed attention to pork belly. Chefs and consumers alike are increasingly interested in knowing the origins of their food and supporting ethical farming practices. This has led to a greater appreciation for high-quality pork belly from heritage breeds that are raised humanely and fed natural diets.

Fusion Cuisine

Pork belly’s versatility makes it a perfect candidate for fusion cuisine, where chefs blend elements from different culinary traditions to create innovative dishes. For example, pork belly tacos combine the rich, savory flavor of braised pork belly with the fresh, vibrant elements of Mexican cuisine. Similarly, pork belly ramen incorporates this luxurious cut into a traditional Japanese noodle soup, adding depth and richness to the broth.

Fine Dining

In the fine dining arena, pork belly has become a favorite ingredient for its ability to elevate a dish with its complex flavors and textures. Chefs often use advanced techniques like sous-vide, where the pork belly is vacuum-sealed and cooked slowly in a water bath, resulting in perfectly tender meat that is then seared to achieve a crispy exterior.

Street Food

Pork belly also shines in street food, where its bold flavors and satisfying texture make it a crowd-pleaser. From food trucks serving crispy pork belly sliders to market stalls offering traditional dishes like Chinese baozi filled with braised pork belly, this cut of meat is a staple in street food scenes around the world.

Cooking Pork Belly at Home

Cooking pork belly at home can be a rewarding experience. Here are some tips and a simple recipe to get you started.

Tips for Cooking Pork Belly

  1. Choose Quality Meat: Look for pork belly with a good balance of meat and fat, preferably from a trusted butcher or source that practices ethical farming.
  2. Score the Skin: Scoring the skin helps render the fat and achieve a crispy texture. Use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts in a crosshatch pattern.
  3. Season Well: Pork belly benefits from robust seasoning. Marinades, dry rubs, and braising liquids should be flavorful and well-balanced.
  4. Slow Cooking: Whether roasting, braising, or smoking, slow cooking is key to breaking down the fat and collagen, resulting in tender, flavorful meat.
  5. Rest the Meat: Allow the pork belly to rest after cooking to let the juices redistribute and the flavors meld.

Simple Roast Pork Belly Recipe


  • 2 pounds pork belly, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. Prepare Pork Belly: Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels. Score the skin in a crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife.
  3. Season: In a small bowl, mix the salt, pepper, fennel seeds, paprika, minced garlic, and olive oil. Rub this mixture all over the pork belly, ensuring it gets into the scored skin.
  4. Roast: Place the pork belly on a roasting rack in a baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes to start the crisping process.
  5. Lower Temperature: Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (160°C) and continue roasting for another 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and the skin is crispy.
  6. Rest: Remove the pork belly from the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
  7. Serve: Slice the pork belly and serve with your favorite sides, such as roasted vegetables or a fresh salad.


Pork belly is a culinary gem that has earned its place in kitchens and dining tables around the world. Its rich flavor, tender texture, and versatility make it a favorite among chefs and home cooks alike. From its historical roots in ancient China to its modern-day presence in fine dining and street food, pork belly continues to captivate and delight. Whether roasted, braised, grilled, fried, or smoked, this cut of meat offers endless possibilities for creating delicious and memorable meals. As you explore the world of pork belly, you’ll discover the depth and complexity it brings to dishes, making it a truly exceptional ingredient.