Fried pork belly is a traditional Hakka recipe that uses fermented beancurd and Chinese five-spice powder as the main ingredients to marinate the meat.
It has become a popular dish among the Chinese family due to its simplicity and unique savory taste.
Here is a detailed explanation of how to prepare the Hakka-style deep-fried pork.
This is a relatively easy recipe. There are two main steps to preparing the Hakka deep-fried pork. First, marinate the pork with a mixture of fermented beancurd, five-spice powder, and other seasonings, followed by deep-fry it until crispy.
This recipe is quite similar to lechon kawali, which is a Filipino deep-fried pork recipe.
1. Marinade the pork
Use pork belly for the best result
The most common cut of pork for deep-frying is pork belly. Pork belly has a relatively higher amount of fat, which will remain juicy after deep-frying with high heat. The pork fat will render during the process, changing the texture of the fat from the soft, spongy to a slightly firm texture with a crispy surface. These changes make it not feel oily when you bite on it. Of course, you can use collar butt or pork loin if you prefer less fatty, but the texture will be drier than pork belly.
How to remove the pork skin
Pork belly is sold with skin-on usually. Here is my method to remove the skin.
- Place the pork belly on a chopping board.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the skin starting from one side of the pork. Move the knife horizontally and slice up a small cut.
- Hold the free part of the skin with the other hand and pull away from the meat to create tension. Next, slide the knife parallel to the skin with some force applied towards the opposite direction of the first hand, then glide to remove it from the meat.
Please refer to the video in this article for a more detailed explanation.
Once you have removed the skin, you have the choice to cut the pork into small pieces or a larger slab. If you cut it into small pieces as in this pork belly recipe, the pork will become crispier after deep-frying as the surface coated with cornstarch is larger. However, if you prefer cutting it into a larger slab, you can slice the large chunk into pieces to reveal the internal of the meat while serving.
Once you have cut the meat, transfer it into a large mixing bowl.
The ingredients for the marinade
The marinade consists of some common ingredients plus two unique ingredients, fermented beancurd, and Chinese five-spice powder. The combination of the fermented beancurd and the spices produce the unique yet memorable flavor of the Hakka fried pork belly.
There are two types of fermented beancurd, the red 南乳, and the yellow-light brown 腐乳.
There are some differences between the two besides the color. Red fermented beancurd has a tinge of sweetness and saltiness, while the yellow type is more savory.
I use an equal portion of both in this recipe, but you can use either one if you prefer. If you use the red type entirely, you will expect the color of the fried pork to become darker after deep-frying.
Chinese five-spice powder consists of a mix of star anise, fennel, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves. It is quite a standard mix of spices for Chinese cooking and is readily available at most large grocery stores.
Other ingredients are oyster sauce, ground white pepper, garlic, ginger, sugar, and Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine). These are the standard items in most Chinese kitchen pantries. I would suggest mincing the garlic and ginger finely before adding to the marinade to ensure they will stick well to the meat. Alternatively, you can add a tablespoon of water to the chopped ginger and garlic, then squeeze out the juice. Finally, discard the ginger and garlic and use the juice only to marinate the meat.
Marinate overnight is the best
Since the fermented beancurd is semi-solid, it is hard to mix well with the pork pieces. My method is to mash it with a fork, dilute it with wine and oyster sauce, and combine it with the remainder of the ingredients to form a thick paste before massaging it into the meat.
For the best result, it is best to marinate overnight, or at least for half a day before deep-frying.
2. Deep-fry the pork
Coat the pork with cornstarch
Remove the marinated pork from the refrigerator on the following day. I would let the pork return to room temperature before deep-frying it. Otherwise, the inner part of the pork may not cook fully when the outside has already turned golden.
Traditionally a mixture of tapioca starch and rice flour is used to coat the pork before deep-frying. However, I also have tried using cornstarch alone, which yields a crispy exterior up to half an hour after deep-frying. Therefore, you can use either one of them, depending on what is available.
I would suggest using a pair of chopsticks to roll the meat pieces in cornstarch. The marinate and the moisture from the pork will bind with the cornstarch, making it pretty sticky and messy if you use your hand to mix it.
After coating each piece of meat thoroughly with cornstarch, let it rest for five minutes before deep-frying for the first round. The short rest allows the moisture from the meat and the marinade to absorb the cornstarch, making it firmly adhere to the meat. Otherwise, cornstarch tends to drop off from the meat if you deep-fried it immediately after coating the pork.
Double fried to get the crispiest texture
You need to deep-fried it twice to get the perfect crispy pork belly.
Heat the oil to about 150°C/300°F. A kitchen thermometer is quite common nowadays, so you can get one to check the temperature. Otherwise, you can test the temperature by dipping a pair of wooden chopsticks into the oil. The temperature is correct if there are steams of bubbles rising around the chopsticks slowly. We use an electric deep fryer in the restaurant which can adjust the temperature.
Place the pork belly slices into the oil to deep-fry for three minutes over medium-high heat, then flip over and continue for another three minutes.
The end of the cooking time depends on the size of the pork and the temperature of the oil. Therefore, the actual time required may vary from this recipe. The best way to decide when to remove it from the oil is to look at the color. I deep-fried the pork until lightly golden, as it was followed by a second round of deep-frying over high heat to crisp up the pork.
Let the pork cools for ten minutes before deep-frying for the second round. This time the temperature should be at around 200°C/390°F. This time, if you put the chopsticks into the oil, streams of bubbles will rise vigorously around it instead of bubbling slowly.
The second round of deep-frying takes about one minute, and you should keep watching closely as the color will turn quickly at a high temperature.
Once the color turns golden brown and without burnt pieces, remove the pork belly pieces immediately and drain them on a paper towel or a wire rack.
To serve the Hakka deep-fried pork belly
Deep-fried pork belly is best to serve with some vegetables since it is fatty. You can serve it with some lettuce or any salad of your choice. My more traditional approach is to blanch some leafy vegetables such as bok choy, which double up as garnish.
Other related recipes to fried pork belly
Here are two related pork recipes specially picked for you if you enjoy this fried pork belly.
Braised pork belly is a well-known pork dish prepared with a combination of ginger, garlic, and soy sauce and a myriad of aromatic spices and cook over an extended period. The pork is cooked until the fat is gelatinized, and the meat attains the melt in the mouth texture.
Bak Kut Teh is a popular meat dish in Malaysia and Singapore. It is a meat and pork rib dish cooked in a broth flavored with various Chinese medicinal herbs. This recipe explains how to prepare Bak Kut Teh at home.
Ingredients A (Marinate the pork)
- 400g pork belly (weight include skin)
- 2 fermented beancurd (refer to note below)
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing sine
- 2 tsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
Ingredients B (Others)
- Cornflour to coat the pork
- Vegetable oil to deep-fry
Marinade the pork
- Remove the skin of the pork belly.
- Cut the pork into small pieces, about one inch length.
- Transfer it into a large mixing bowl.
- Mix the pork with all the ingredients in A.
- Store in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
Deep-fry the pork
- Remove the marinated pork from the refrigerator.
- Roll the meat pieces in a bed of cornstarch.
- After coating each piece of meat thoroughly with cornstarch, let it rest for five minutes.
- Deep-fry the pork in oil at 150°C/300°F for three minutes, then flip over and continue for another three minutes, or until it is lightly golden.
- Let the pork cools for ten minutes.
- Deep-fry for the second round at 200°C/390°F for one minute.
- Remove the pork and drain them on a paper towel or a colander. Serve immediately.
The weight of each piece of the fermented beancurd I use is about 12g. I use one red and one yellow fermented beancurd in the recipe. Please adjust the number of fermented beancurd you use if what you have is of a different size.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 949Total Fat: 65gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 42gCholesterol: 205mgSodium: 501mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 60g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 8/2/2021