Friday, November 16, 2012

Bun with Pork Belly

Those of you who are Facebook friends of mine may have heard me mention the little boy who came to our house to trick-or-treat and asked if we were having hot dogs for dinner.  I said yes, rather than try and explain what pork belly is to a four year old.  The inspiration for me to make my own bun (the Vietnamese noodle "salad") came from a dinner we had in California. I mentioned at the time that "I had the bun with char-grilled pork and the pork was basically bacon" and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since.

I bought a 2 pound pork belly (it shrinks a lot when you cook it) from our local heritage pork purveyor.  Fair warning: it comes with the skin on.  Also, some hair.  But this, my friends, is the omnivore's dilemma.  I forged ahead with an overnight brine and braise with Ming Tsai's recipe. After it came out of the oven and it had cooled a bit, I cut off the skin and (are you still with me?) sliced the meat as thinly as possible.  To crisp up the meat and render the remaining fat, I tossed the strips into a hot skillet.

This is more of a salad than you usually get with lots of lettuce, cucumbers, and whatever else you might want.  Whatever you include, you should top it with vermicelli noodles and positively drench it in this fish sauce (nuoc mam cham).  I got this recipe from my brother and it is the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and pungent with a good bit of heat (the way I made it).  You can even use it to pickle some carrots and onions to add some color.  So the verdict?  The bun itself was pretty easy to make, but I'm going to leave pork belly to the pros.

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