Grilled Pork Belly with Spicy-sweet Korean Glaze

From Williams-Sonoma Grill School

The only way to grill pork belly is to render out some fat first. Otherwise, the fat drips into the grill and creates an inferno that incinerates the meat. A low, slow braise in the oven gets the job done. Then you can grill the belly and get a good, crisp exterior. At the very end of cooking, we like to glaze it with our version of ssam jang, a thick Korean spice paste. Wrap pieces of grilled belly in lettuce leaves with sticky rice, kimchi, and more spice paste and you have a knockout small plate or first course. You can buy ssam jang in Asian markets, but it’s easy enough to stir it up yourself.

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time30 minsCook Time3 hrsTotal Time3 hrs 30 mins

 1 ½ lbs (750 g) center-cut pork belly
 3 tbsp coarse sea salt
 1 ½ cups (12 fl oz/375 ml) unseasoned rice vinegar
 ¾ cup Ssam Jang (see below)
 2 cups cooked sweet glutinous (sticky) rice
 2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
 1 head butter lettuce, separated into leaves
 Kimchi for serving (optional)
SSAM JANG
 ¼ cup (2 1/4 oz/70 g) doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
 1 tsp gochujang (Korean red chile paste)
 1 clove garlic, minced
 1 green onion, white and pale green parts, chopped
 2 tsp honey
 2 tsp Asian sesame oil
 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

1

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Rub the pork belly all over with the salt and set the pork, fat side up, in a baking dish just a little bigger than the pork itself. Add the unseasoned rice vinegar to the baking dish; it should come about halfway up the sides of the pork. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and braise the pork in the oven for 3 hours.

2

Remove from the oven and let cool, still covered, to room temperature. When cooled, uncover the baking dish and then peel off and discard the skin and the top layer of fat that comes off with the skin. Cut the pork into bricks about 2 inches (5 cm) long and 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide.

3

Heat a grill for medium-high direct heat (400°–450°F/200°–230°C). Brush the grill grate and coat with oil. Place the belly bricks, meat side down, on the grate and sear on all sides, 2–3 minutes per side, including the ends. Grill the fatty side last. During the last few minutes, brush the bricks all over with the ssam jang. Transfer the pork to a plate.

4

Put the rice into a serving bowl, add the seasoned rice vinegar, and stir and toss to mix evenly. Invite your guests to wrap the pork belly in lettuce leaves with a little rice, more ssam jang, and some kimchi (if using).

SSAM JANG
5

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Extra Credit:

Add pickled carrots or other pickled vegetables to the lettuce wrap.
You can refrigerate the braised pork belly for a few days before using it. Remove the skin first. You can also freeze the braised belly for up to 2 weeks. Thaw completely before grilling.

 

Ingredients

 1 ½ lbs (750 g) center-cut pork belly
 3 tbsp coarse sea salt
 1 ½ cups (12 fl oz/375 ml) unseasoned rice vinegar
 ¾ cup Ssam Jang (see below)
 2 cups cooked sweet glutinous (sticky) rice
 2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
 1 head butter lettuce, separated into leaves
 Kimchi for serving (optional)
SSAM JANG
 ¼ cup (2 1/4 oz/70 g) doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
 1 tsp gochujang (Korean red chile paste)
 1 clove garlic, minced
 1 green onion, white and pale green parts, chopped
 2 tsp honey
 2 tsp Asian sesame oil
 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

1

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Rub the pork belly all over with the salt and set the pork, fat side up, in a baking dish just a little bigger than the pork itself. Add the unseasoned rice vinegar to the baking dish; it should come about halfway up the sides of the pork. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and braise the pork in the oven for 3 hours.

2

Remove from the oven and let cool, still covered, to room temperature. When cooled, uncover the baking dish and then peel off and discard the skin and the top layer of fat that comes off with the skin. Cut the pork into bricks about 2 inches (5 cm) long and 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide.

3

Heat a grill for medium-high direct heat (400°–450°F/200°–230°C). Brush the grill grate and coat with oil. Place the belly bricks, meat side down, on the grate and sear on all sides, 2–3 minutes per side, including the ends. Grill the fatty side last. During the last few minutes, brush the bricks all over with the ssam jang. Transfer the pork to a plate.

4

Put the rice into a serving bowl, add the seasoned rice vinegar, and stir and toss to mix evenly. Invite your guests to wrap the pork belly in lettuce leaves with a little rice, more ssam jang, and some kimchi (if using).

SSAM JANG
5

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Grilled Pork Belly with Spicy-sweet Korean Glaze