Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pork belly, the Momofuku way

So I got some hankerin' for raw bacon and decide the next best thing and most sanitary way I could accomplish this was with pork belly. Now when people hear the words pork and belly together they get this strange almost disgusted look on their face. What they don't realize is that this wonderfully flavored and somewhat cheap cut of meat is pre-bacon. That's bacon before it became bacon. And if you haven't heard enough bacon about bacon I'm going to bacon your bacon and put some bacon on your bacon.

OK, I'm bacon.

I swear.

So thanks to the good butchers at J&D meats that's located in the Pennsylvania Dutch Market in Hagerstown, MD, I was able to request an order for a whole pork side. That's over 9 glorious pounds of tasty pig.

So shortly after procuring the pork, I had a recipe I desperately wanted to try. It's the Momofuku* way of roasting a pork belly that they use in their buns and just about every recipe that calls for it. The recipe is very simple; it calls for a half and half mixture of salt and sugar as a rub then to let the belly rest for about 6 hours in a fridge before cooking with high heat for about and hour and then finishing on low heat for about an hour.

There's two things I have to caution with this recipe though, if you don't let the belly cool and rest after cooking and before using it, it may be too salty for some. That, and your oven temperatures will probably vary from others. I had my oven set at 450 like the recipe directed and had to turn it down to about 400 20 minutes in as the sugar in the coating was starting to give off a burning smell. It had no effect on the flavor.

 After the 2 hours of cooking I removed the belly and let it rest to cool towards room temperature before covering it and putting it in the fridge. The End. Pause. Not. This is just the beginning of something new I discovered and although I only used 1/3 of the belly and have 6 more pounds of super meat to fix, I probably won't be using the Momofuku recipe with them. However, I will be fixing it again in the future and this is why, I have found a combination of Momofuku style pork belly and another common breakfast ingredient that is so utterly delicious that it will make you want to throw up the entire contents of your stomach and that is no exaggeration.

So, what is this wonderful combination? Momofuku pork belly and eggs. I love eggs. In fact, I generally only eat them about 7 different ways: fried, poached, scrambled, in an omelet, hard boiled, soft boiled, or even raw depending on the type of egg. Generally though, breakfast eggs consist of fried eggs fixed in a cast iron skillet (arn for you fellow West Virginia fellers). So the other morning I decided to slice up two pieces of pork belly that were just over a 1/4 inch thick. I plopped them down into the skillet and let it each since anyone that calls themselves a cook should know that pork belly contains fat, fat seasons cast iron, and seasoned cast irons don't stick. So after I rewarmed the belly slices, I removed them from the skillet and and tossed in two eggs to make fried eggs. It's the usual style, salt & pepper, a bit o' time on one side and a bit less time on the other so that the yolks are nice and runny. After they were done I plated everything up and had breakfast.

After sitting, the pork belly lost the really salty flavor and had a nice reach creamy taste and the sugar mixed into the rub gave it a bit of a nice rich sweetness. Umami is about the only way to describe it. Pure motha' lickin' Umami. And then I moved onto the egg. Some people may find my way of eating a fried egg a bit weird. What I do is use a fork to remove the white from around the yolk and eat that. Frying the egg in the pork belly fat gave it a rich sweet flavor on top of the egg taste. After removing the white and eating that, I carefully slide a fork under the yolk until the entire weight is evenly supported and the entire thing is precariously balanced on the tines before shoving it into my pie hole.

BOOM! Mother fucking explosion! My head was in a million little pieces plastering the walls, ceiling, table, dog, and everything else that happened to be standing nearby. It was a literal flavor explosion. It was like taking every little ounce of savoriness (if it's not a word, it is now!) that you've ever experienced in your life, every little bit that you will ever experience in the rest of your life and shoving it into one bite of food. My mouth twisted up and I swear a tear even fell. It was so much that I could barely withstand the barrage of the second egg. As I lay sprawled out on the ground in the aftermath, I contemplate if there was even a reason to continue living. Why should I get up and dress for work when the rest of my like would be a pale shadows of what I just experienced. I felt like I couldn't go on. Ever. Again.

But then I realized that I would possibly be late if I didn't get moving, so I stood up, wiped myself off and started getting ready for the rest of my taste deprived life.

*Momofuku - What's a Momofuku? It's Japanese for lucky peach and it's a collection of several restaurants started and owned by David Chang. I picked up the wonderful Momofuku book which is a book of more than just recipes, it the story of how David Change created the Noodle Bar and then the rest of the restaurants of Momofuku. The thing I really like about the included recipes is that one recipe can end up having 5 different recipes. What I mean by this is that the basic ramen recipe says that you need these ingredients. In the following pages, if those ingredients aren't just simple add ins like salt or pepper, it describes how to make the ingredients for the main recipe, like the pork shoulder, the noodles, the broth, and everything else that require preparation. It's pretty in depth and has some really amazing foods in it. I'd recommend picking it up to anyone that enjoys Asian American food and/or ramen.

And hopefully I'll be driving all the way up to New York to visit Momofuku Ko and the Noodle Bar in October. Unfortunately, they have a no photography policy from what I remember reading on their site, but it would really be awesome if I could go a review for what I was there.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really nice treat for myself after getting my Basset Training! I am always craving for something like this. Thanks for sharing :)