Pork belly is rendered spoon-tender after a long braise with ginger, cloves, cumin, fennel, and star anise. Reduced, its cooking liquid makes a thick, fragrant sauce. This recipe first appeared in our May 2014 issue with the story Still Cooking.
- 1 (3-lb.) piece boneless, skin-on pork belly
- 2 tbsp. peanut oil
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 1 (2″) piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. ground fennel
- 5 whole star anise
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 sticks cinnamon
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup light soy sauce
- 3 tbsp. dark soy sauce
- 1⁄3 cup sugar
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 4 cups baby spinach
- Tender sprigs cilantro, julienned carrot, red bell pepper, and scallion, for garnish (optional)
- Cooked white rice, for serving
- Bring an 8-qt. saucepan of water to a boil; cook pork belly 5 minutes, then drain and cut in half crosswise. Add oil to pan; heat over medium-high heat. Cook onion and ginger until soft, 3–4 minutes. Add cloves, cumin, fennel, star anise, bay leaves, and cinnamon; cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Add reserved pork, the stock, soy sauces, and sugar; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until pork is very tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Transfer pork to a serving platter; keep warm. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and thickened, 18–20 minutes; spoon sauce over pork.
- Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook spinach until wilted, 1–2 minutes, then drain and squeeze dry; arrange around pork. Garnish with cilantro, carrot, pepper, and scallion if you like; serve with rice on the side.