It’s a brand new year, according to the Chinese Lunar calendar.  And it’s the year of the Black Snake! Which means, today’s recipe is going to be SNAKE!!! Snake on the plane! Snake in the bathroom! Snake in the kitchen! SNAAAAAAAAAAAKE! That’s right, I’m going to be cooking up some black mamba snake in the pressure cooker!!!

Seriously……..I am joking.

I’ll admit it, I eat some weird stuff sometimes, but snake has not been one of them.

Today’s recipe is actually Braised Pork Belly, also known as Dong Po Rou 东坡肉 / Braised Pork Belly.

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For those of you who are not familiar with what pork belly is, it’s a boneless cut of fatty meat from the belly of a pig.

Now that you have calmed yourself and know that I am not making snake, let’s get pork belly dancing!

I wanted to make a very popular Chinese dish in honor of the New Year.  Pork belly is not traditionally served during the New Year feast, but who cares, I never follow tradition anyway.  I’ve also never made pork belly before.  So it’s experimentation time!!!
INGREDIENTS:
  • 3lbs. Pork Belly
  • 1 thumb of Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks of Scallion/Green onion, chopped into 2″ lengths
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, peeled
  • 4 Star Anise
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Dark Soy Paste
  • 1/2 cup Shaoxing Hua Tiao Wine

FOR SCALDING:

  • 2-3 cups boiling water

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Using a very sharp knife, slice the pork belly into 1-inch slices.  Place them all into a shallow pot or pan and scald them with boiling hot water.  Set aside.

Scalding

Inside the main cooking pot of your pressure cooker, add a bit of cooking oil.  Turn the Browning feature on to heat up the heating element.  Place the next 5 ingredients into the pot and saute them until fragrant.  Turn off the heat.

Browning

Now slowly add the rest of the wet ingredients one by one and then the brown sugar.  Mix everything until the mixture becomes a thick pasty consistency similar to BBQ sauce.  If it’s too watery, add more brown sugar. (Sorry, I totally forgot to take a photo of this part.)

Back to the pork belly, drain them of the hot water.  Place each piece into the pressure cooker and make sure they are thoroughly drenched in the sauce mixture.  When all the pieces are in the pot, just ensure all the pieces are submerged before you shut the lid.  Close and lock the lid.

You know the drill, program the cook time for 30-minutes.  Press Start.

Now go for a jog with your little dog, or your little cat.  Or………make some rice to serve with the braised pork belly.

30-minutes is all you’ll need to render the meat super soft and melt-in-your-mouth.  Usually stove-top cooking requires 3 hours of simmering and constant babysitting.

When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure cooker drop down in pressure naturally on its own.  When it is safe to open the lid, unlock and carefully remove all the pieces out with a pair of tongs.

The remaining sauce will be a lot more watery now because of the juices from the meat.  We’re going to reduce the sauce mixture into a nice thick paste.  Make a flour roux with a bit of the liquid ladled out in a little bowl, mix a bit of flour with it until smooth and pour it back into the pot.  Press the Start the button to turn on the heating element and cook the sauce down until its to the desired thick consistency.

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When it’s ready to serve, put some white rice on a plate, then add some slice of the pork belly.  Ladle the sauce onto the meat and garnish with chopped green onions.  The meat was unbelievably soft and the flavor was perfect. Sweet and savory with a hint of wine and the star anise.  Have a wonder happy Chinese new year!  Gong hei fat choy!  Live long and prosper!  May the force be with you!  So say we all!

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