Pork Belly. One of my favorite things. Second of course to a whole lot of other things. Okay, so maybe it is not my favorite, but it ranks, okay? Pork belly is super rich, packed with flavor and indulgent textures. And boy oh boy is it tasty. So when I cook with something like pork belly, I like to lighten it up. Make it fresh and vibrant. I know you can't tell where I am going with this yet. The pictures above are in no way, shape or form a visual cue as to how I contrasted rich and fatty flavors of pork belly with something fresh and light. Really, I bet you are super stumped. Okay, I am not giving you enough credit. I think you have figured it out. Way to go young sleuth. :)
This pomegranate and pineapple pico is a go to taco staple in my house. I know I am no longer on food tv. But let us just say that Bobby Flay loved it and it was part of the taco I prepared on night one. A taco that got me the most exciting dish of the night. And for an amateur chef (amateur everything), that's not half bad. It goes with fish, steak and also, drum roll please... pork belly. The tangy crisp pomegranate arils, crunchy purple cabbage, sweet pineapples and sharp chilis balance out that pork belly perfectly. And oh are they lovely to look at. And let us be honest, we eat with our eyes first. If we didn't, then I wouldn't take time to edit my photos. You are welcome. But even in a blind taste test, you would pick this baby out.
In addition to enjoying this amaza-balls meal at home, I had the pleasure of popping over to HMSA to collaborate with their blog Well Being Hawaii (Ashley Tsuji's far superior blog post here). First of all, I had a blast. Second of all, I got to make and eat these tacos again. :) Sitting down and chatting with Ashley Tsuji was worth it alone, and you can see the on camera exchange here. Although we did offer to braid each other's hair, that didn't quite make the cut. Maybe another time...
For the Pork Belly:
3 lbs pork belly
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup white sugar
2 tbsp Thai chili paste
2 tbsp grated ginger or ginger paste
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
Mix all ingredients, minus the pork belly together until homogenous in consistency.
Use the mixture to marinate the pork belly for 2 hours or over night (as I did).
Place the pork belly, fat side up, on a baking sheet; preferably on top of a silicone mat, foil or parchment paper.
Sprinkle evenly with salt.
Bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 275 and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes.
Allow the pork belly to rest.
When you are ready to serve, slice the pork belly into then pieces and re sear it on a hot pan to improve temperature and texture.
For the Pineapple, Pomegranate Pico:
½ a pineapple
2-3 pomegranates (about 1 ½ cups)
3 Thai red chilis
¾ cups packed cilantro leaves
1 ½ cups shredded purple cabbage
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp honey or agave
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated garlic or garlic paste
Salt to taste (1/2 to 1 tsp, roughly)
Remove the core and skin from your pineapple and dice into ¼ to ½ inch cubes. Add your pineapple to a lidded mixing bowl.
Remove the pomegranate arils. You can do this by rolling the pomegranate on your cutting board, and then slicing it into sections. This is the easiest way to remove them. Add the arils to the bowl.
Chop of your cilantro and add it as well.
Remove the stem from the red chilis. The majority of the “spiciness” is in the seeds and the ribs. So, scrape them out depending on your level of spiciness preference.
Finely chop the chilis and ass them to the bowl.
Shred or thinly slice your purple cabbage and add it to the mixing bowl.
In a small bowl stir together lime juice, honey, grated ginger, garlic and olive oil. When you are ready to serve the slaw, add it to the bowl and toss well, till everything is coated.
Add salt, to taste, and stir again. Make sure that everything is evenly seasoned.
For the Sriracha Mayonnaise:
1/2 cup mayo
1 tbsp sriracha (more if you want more spice)
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
pinch or two of salt
Add all ingredients to a lidded storage container, like a mason jar, and shake vigorously. You can also whisk it in a bowl if you prefer.
Putting it all Together:
You will also need tortillas
Additional limes (optional) to squeeze over the top after assembly.
Begin plating with your tortilla. You can heat it in a pan for improved flavor and texture.
Add the pineapple and pomegranate pico.
Add warm pork belly.
Drizzle the sriracha mayonnaise.
And finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Enjoy!