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For dinner tonight I made my favourite recipe for crispy pork belly Korean style with a chilli, soy and vinegar dipping sauce again… this time I kept the skin and fat whole… the BEST crackling EVER!

The key to a classic pork belly roast with golden brown, blistered, crispy and crunchy crackling lies in the dryness of the skin and also a searing hot oven to begin with to get the crackling going.

There are many theories about crackling – brushing the skin with vinegar, scalding the skin, scoring the skin before oiling and rubbing salt, etc… I followed these theories before but the results were not consistent. Sometimes I would get very crispy crackling but other times I got some hard and unblistered crackling… until a Korean friend who kindly shared her recipe with me.

  • 1 large 1.7 – 2 kg slab of pork belly
  • oil
  • salt
  • Marinade – Blend together:
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of kimchi
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon ponzu sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 heaped tablespoons Korean spice mix*
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

*The Korean spice mix is made by mixing together equal quantities of each of these dried herbs, toasted spices and ingredients: crushed garlic, red chilli flakes, ginger, basil, coriander leaves, roasted coriander seeds, lemon grass, black peppercorns, parsley, galangal, lime leaves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, sesame seeds, star anise, brown sugar, cloves, green cardamom and salt… I have a ready made bottle of Korean spice mix always in my spice rack!

Wash the pork and pat dry with kitchen towel.
In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and blend well into a brown paste.
Turn the pork skin-side down on a rack and using the tip of a knife, prick/pierce all over the meat-side of the pork.
Rub the marinade evenly all over, including the sides (but make sure you don’t get any marinade on the skin!!!).
Place the pork, skin-side up in a tray or a container and wipe the skin thoroughly with paper towel. Leave the pork in the refrigerator, uncovered overnight.

Bring the pork to room temperature before roasting (at least 2 hours).
The skin will dry out after refrigerated overnight. If not, give it a little blow-dry with hair dryer. (The drier the skin, the better the cackling when roasted… also if you do prefer a scored skin, now is the time to score the skin side fat…)

Preheat oven to 230°C.
Place pork, skin-side up on a rack set over a roasting pan.
Drizzle oil all over the skin of the pork, then sprinkle enough salt to fully cover the entire skin.
Put the pork into the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes.
Then reduce the oven to 190 – 200°C and continue roasting for another 55 – 70 mins.
Remove meat from the oven and allow to rest for 10 – 15 mins before cutting. Brush away excess salt if you prefer a less salty taste.

Serve crispy pork belly garnished with sliced spring onions and a dipping sauce made from white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, grated garlic, freshly chopped red and green chillies, chopped (red) onions and kimchi (if you like the taste). Dip the pork belly into the vinegar dipping sauce and eat it with a side of hot steaming rice.

My hint to get the perfect crackling:
I left my marinated pork to dry out uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. (To make sure that it is thoroughly dry out, I’d blow dry the skin with a hair dryer before roasting).
Then I rubbed a generous amount of oil all over the skin before scattering enough salt to cover the entire surface. The oil will start to heat up in the extremely hot oven (230°C) and the salt will begin to draw out the moisture and the skin itself will start to crack, puff and bubble like little blisters.
After 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 200°C. The rule of thumb is to allow 25 minutes per 500 g of pork.

Recipe posted by Jan van Dyk
Photo: Jan van Dyk


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