Pork Belly: a boneless cut of fatty meat from the belly of a pig. Or at least that’s what Wikipedia says, and it’s right - but it’s also the star of these Asian inspired tacos, which are hands down one of the best things you could ever make. You might hear “fatty meat from the belly of a pig” and think eh, not for me… but don’t let “fatty” be a deterrent! Think succulent, rich, decadent, luxurious, incompar- okay, I’ll stop. I think you get the point.
I will admit, pork belly has more juicy layers of fat than it does actual pork meat... but that’s okay! When cooked correctly (see my recipe below), the fatty meat becomes ever so tender and literally melts in your mouth. It might even bring a tear to your eye. And while happy tears may not happen for everyone, they certainly do for my pork-addicted family.
As previously mentioned, my family and especially my husband Jeff (former carnivore, now omnivore with a tendency to go back to his old ways) are big, big fans of the ole’ pork belly. It is the cut of meat used to make bacon, a process done by curing the meat, which Jeff has actually done a few times. It creates an entirely different eating experience, but one that is equally as delicious. But back to the belly! My oldest daughter Hope is actually the one who inspired this recipe when she asked me to make homemade Japanese ramen noodle soup. I found a recipe that called for crispy pork belly as a garnish and when it came to leftovers I realized pork belly is better than a garnish; it’s the star of the show! We had a lot of the fatty little bits of heaven leftover and I needed another way to serve them as we were out of the fresh ramen noodles and using it as a garnish was no longer good enough. I turned from one carb to another, grabbed some tortillas and created our beloved Caramelized Pork Belly Tacos with Sriracha Aioli. Hope loved them so much I even wound up serving them at her engagement party and the crowd went wild for them. Here’s to hoping you will too. Enjoy!
Caramelized Pork Belly Tacos with Sriracha Aioli
For the Pork Belly:
-1 ½ pounds pork belly
-2 inch piece of ginger, cut into coins
-1 cup leeks, sliced in 2” pieces if you can’t find leeks, substitute green onions
-2 teaspoons soy sauce
-2 teaspoons chicken bouillon I love using Better than Chicken Bouillon
-½ cup mirin
-¼ cup sake
-¼ cup soy sauce
For the Sriracha Aioli:
-½ cup mayonnaise
-1 tablespoon Sriracha more or less depending on how spicy you like it
-1 tablespoon lime juice
-2 teaspoons soy sauce
-flour or corn tortillas
-red or green cabbage, shredded
-green onions, sliced
Step 1: Braising, cook time: 3 hours
- Heat a dutch oven or deep saucepan over medium heat. Add in the pork belly and brown on all sides.
- Add enough water to cover the pork belly. Then add your ginger, sliced leeks, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, and the chicken bouillon.
- Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 3 hours, or until the pork belly is tender.
- Place tender pork belly on a clean plate and drain the cooking liquid from the pan.
Step 2: Simmering the Pork Belly, cook time: 30 minutes
- To the empty pan, add the mirin, sake, ¼ cup soy sauce, and the reserved pork belly.
- Bring ingredients to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
-While this simmers, make the Sriracha aioli. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, cover and let refrigerate for 30 minutes or more to meddle the flavors together.
Step 3: Searing the Pork Belly, cook time 5-7 minutes
- Heat a dry pan over medium high heat. Working in batches, add the saucy pork belly to the hot pan and sear until crisp. Working in batches prevents the pan from becoming overcrowded and steaming the meat, which would prevent the beautiful texture we are looking for. Be careful to not sear the meat for too long to prevent drying it out.
- Caramelized pork belly can be kept warm in a low 180 degree oven on a cookie sheet or pyrex dish.
-Pile the pork belly onto flour or corn tortillas.
-Top with your shredded cabbage, cilantro sprigs, green onions and then drizzle on the sriracha aioli.
-Take a bite and embrace the goodness.
I wanted to share a few pics of the caramelized pork belly tacos' #1 fans, a few members of my sweet family. In the photo on the left is my hubby Jeff and I, and in the right is my daughter Hope and her husband Ryan. I love them as much as we all love this recipe, but maybe a little more ❤️