The last part of our pork belly extravaganza was trying to recreate a Filipino dish called Lechon Kawali, which I found over at seriouseats.com
You first cook the skin-on pork belly for about an hour in a soy, garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorn broth, then salt liberally and air-dry it in the fridge overnight. I forgot to tell Chantal that last bit, so she was in for a big surprise when she opened the fridge door the next morning… 😅
After slicing the dried pork belly into approx 2cm /¾ inch slices, we deep-fried the slices – in batches – at 180℃/355℉ until crispy on the outside. Stand well back in the first 30-45 seconds because there is a fair chance there still is some residual moisture left in the pork belly, so the hot oil may spit! 9 minutes on the first batch made the lower part of the pork belly a bit too crunchy, so the next ones were done at 7 minutes.
After salting and draining on a paper towel-lined plate, the slices were cut into 1,25cm (1/2-inch) pieces and served with rice vinegar as a dip.
The fantastic thing about the pork belly bites is the intense crispiness on the outside (especially the bottom part and the crackling), but the top part remains incredibly tender on the inside. The acidity of the rice vinegar nicely cuts through the richness of the pork belly and consequently, the kimchi ketchup also went very well with the Lechon Kawali too.
An unexpected surprise when I was cleaning up: I actually ended up with more oil than I started with!! Obviously, I only noticed that when I poured the entire contents of the pan back in the empty oil bottle and it overflowed on the countertop….. On the other hand, with all that rendered fat from the pork belly, this dish must be really healthy… 😇
We all agreed that none of the flavors from the marinade could really be discerned in the final product. The Lechon Kawali is not that good that you want to gobble down an entire batch, but they made a damn good nibbly snack.
The recipe was easy to follow and the measures of ingredients work well together. It serves 6 to 8.
Verdict: 7/10; Nice experiment, but not likely to be made again.