This is one of my favourite foods to have when having a few drinks with friends – we call it “Pulutan”, literally translated as “something that is picked up”. It can also be served as part of a meal. I have served it here here with Achara (pickled pawpaw) although many like to serve it with a palm vinegar dipping sauce.
Although the end product is deep-fried pork belly, getting to that stage requires braising for at least an hour or so.
1 kg pork belly
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp peppercorns
Oil for deep frying
Peel and crush garlic using the side of a knife. Place all ingredients in a stock pot and fill with water to cover the meat well. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer for an hour or until meat is tender. Make sure to remove the scum from the water surface.
Remove pork from liquid and allow to dry. Now some people will dry the pork belly in a very low while others will place the meat the fridge uncovered. The reason for this is simple – you want a dry surface when deepfrying to achieve crispness on the outside while retaining all the moisture inside. Whichever way you decide to do this, just make sure the meat is dry and at room temperature before frying.
Now this is where the health conscious get a little bit disturbed. The meat is now to be deepfried – twice! Yes, twice!
The first frying is designed to trap all the moisture inside. The second frying, just before serving, makes for a fantastic crisp outside.
For the first fying, make sure you heat the oil to about 180C. Deep fry the whole pork belly skin side down until you get a great crispy texture all over – about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
The second frying takes place just before serving. To maintain the moisture inside, some will fry the whole slab again just before serving.
I prefer to cut the slab into 2-3 cm strips before frying. This of course creates a larger surface area of crispy, crunchy goodness. Whichever method you decide on, just make sure the oil is nice and hot in the beginning, and make sure to drain on paper towels in the end.
To serve, I like to slice the strips into bite size pieces. Enjoy!