From Kian Lam Kho’s Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees
I was able to find local, humanely raised pork from the Albany Whole Foods. Apparently the pork belly comes in on Friday mornings, but they also carry pork shoulder from the same farm, Briarwood in Western New York.
Ingredient Notes: Dark soy sauce is aged in clay jars for 6 to 9 months after the initial fermentation. It can be found in Asian markets. I made the trip to pick some up, because I also wanted to find Shoaxing cooking wine, which I actually did not ultimately find. Dry sherry is a fine substitute for the Shoaxing wine, and while I had no trouble finding the dark soy sauce, I imagine regular soy sauce will give similar results. I omitted the star anise — Kian gives permission to! — because it’s not my favorite flavor, but I know I am in the minority with this one, so add it if you wish.
To make a pork shoulder and then use the slow-cooker, you follow nearly the same procedure: parboil the shoulder but for longer, probably about 40 minutes. Remove it from the liquid, let cool, then cut into large pieces. Because the shoulder was so much larger than the belly, I placed the pieces directly into the slow cooker, then made the sauce stovetop, and poured it into the slow cooker. I cooked the meat for 6 hours in the slow cooker, refrigerated the whole ceramic insert, scraped off the fat the next day, then reheated the whole ceramic insert for a few more hours. It was delicious over polenta—this would be great for a fall gathering.
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds pork belly
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 whole star anise, optional
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Shaoxing cooking wine or dry Sherry
- 1 1/2 cups pork stock, the liquid from the parboiling (I used this), or water, plus more as needed
- Put the entire pork belly in a stockpot and add enough water to cover the meat completely. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium. Parboil the pork belly, uncovered, for 20 minutes, continuously skimming off the scum that forms on the surface. Drain, and let the pork belly cool. Then cut it into pieces about 1 1/2 inches square.
- Combine the sugar with 3 tablespoons water in a wok over medium heat. Continue heating until the sugar syrup just begins to turn yellow. Add the cubed pork belly to the wok and brown it with the caramelized sugar, stirring the meat regularly to prevent burning. If you like, cover the wok with a splatter guard to prevent the fat from splattering.
- Add the garlic, scallions, star anise (if using), both soy sauces, wine or Sherry, and stock (or water) to the wok. Bring the liquid to a boil, then transfer the contents to a clay pot or Dutch oven (or, if your wok has a lid, use it to cover the pan. Or, transfer the contents to a slow cooker.) Simmer, covered, over low heat, stirring the meat every 15 minutes to prevent scorching the pork on the bottom, for 1 hour or until the meat is tender when pierced with a knife—I cooked mine for about 1hr 45 minutes.
- Remove the meat and put it in a bowl. Reduce the sauce over medium-high heat until it reaches the desired consistency. Return the meat to the pot and reheat before serving. Note: When I removed the meat from the pan, I also transferred the braising liquid to a liquid measuring cup, let the fat settle, and scooped most of it off, before returning it to the pan to reduce further.