Fried pork belly is the ultimate meat candy, especially in sliders with pickled veggies and spicy peanut sauce. Make this recipe for a fantastic pork belly sandwich!
Mention the word pork belly and many Americans will instantly think of bacon. While crispy bacon is a delicious treat from the hog’s belly, there’s an even better one that is insanely addictive! Just wait until you wrap your hands around a pork belly sandwich!
Fried Pork Belly
Let’s head over to China to experience mouthwatering Asian pork recipes cooked up fresh from the alley street vendors. Ask them to make you some crispy fried pork belly.
Whether you enjoy it straight up as-is or in a pork belly sandwich, you’ll quickly learn what real meat candy tastes like!
Cuisine: Asian / Chinese
Begin your culinary adventure on the eastern coast of China. With scenic views of the East China Sea, make a stop in the city of Shanghai for some delicious street vendor fare, including this delicious sandwich recipe!
Course: Main Dish / Sandwiches
Recipe difficulty: Easy, but a bit time consuming 🥄
Crispy pan fried pork belly on toasted brioche buns with spicy peanut butter spread. The sandwich has a generous topping of easy to make pickled carrots and daikon radish.
Ingredients and Recipe Notes
Aside from the actual pork belly itself, there are three main components of this recipe; the pork brine, the spicy peanut butter spread, and the quick pickled vegetables.
Making the Pork Belly Brine
A brine is basically just a combination of salt water and seasonings. There are two purposes of using a brine. The first is to add flavor to the meat and the other purpose of submerging the pork into the brine is so that the salt will denature the proteins in the pork belly, allowing the cells to retain more moisture.
Get yourself a large plastic container or food storage tub for brining the meat. You'll need one large enough to completely submerge the pork belly.
Be sure that the container you use for brining is non-reactive. This means, it won't corrode or leach chemicals when it comes in contact with an acid.
Asian Quick Pickled Vegetables
Essentially, you can pickle almost any vegetable or fruit.
I love my recipe for quick lemon pickle, but it's not the best choice for fried pork belly sliders. The sweet lemon and spicy peanut butter spread aren't a very good combo, so I use another using shredded vegetables.
Traditionally, the Chinese make pickled carrot and daikon radish to serve on a pork belly sandwich.
The meat needs to sit in the brine for a couple of hours, so that's a great time to pickle the veggies and make the peanut butter spread.
The veggies only need to sit in a bit of rice wine vinegar for an hour. Just be sure to slice them as thinly as possible. I use a mandoline slicer, because it's much quicker and easier to use than a knife.
Spicy peanut butter spread - ingredients and substitutions
- Creamy peanut butter- If you have a peanut allergy, this spread could be made with almond butter. Obviously, the flavor will be different.
- Hoisin sauce
- Spicy chili paste- I like to use Sambal Oelek, but any type of Asian chili paste will be fine
- Low sodium soy sauce- I recommend using low sodium soy sauce because the pork belly will be salty enough.
- Fish sauce
- Sesame oil- This oil is an Asian staple, but if you need to use something else, vegetable oil or another neutral flavored oil is fine
Keep in mind that you don't have to use the spread on your pork belly sandwich. The tangy pickled veggies and salty pork make for a delicious sandwich, even without the peanut spread!
Tips for the best fried pork belly sandwich
- Be sure to dry off the pork. You'll need to rinse the brine solution off of the pork, so it's important to use paper toweling to dry it off. Otherwise, the meat will steam rather than cook up nice and crispy in the pan.
- Thoroughly preheat the pan. You want your pan to be searing hot to create fried pork belly. Don't be afraid to let the pan preheat for a couple of minutes before you add the meat.
No. Although pork belly is different from bacon, they cook in a similar way. The longer you cook pork belly, the tougher it becomes. Just like bacon, pork belly fat renders down, so it doesn't become more tender, just tougher.
Fried Pork Belly Sandwich
- 1 lb pork belly
- 8 sandwich or slider rolls brioche preferred
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 2 cups hot water
- 2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 star anise
- 1 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 ½ cups cold water
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon chili paste Sambal Oelek
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 large carrot shredded
- 1 daikon radish (6-inch piece) shredded
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
Brine the Pork Belly
- Mix together the sugar, salt and hot water in a container large enough to submerge the pork belly. In a large skillet toast the fennel seed and star anise for a minute or two to bring out the essential oils. Do not burn. Add to brine liquid. Stir in the Chinese Five Spice and red pepper flakes. Add the cold water and then add the pork belly. Submerge using a plate on top of pork belly. Cover and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours).
Roast Pork Belly
- Preheat oven to 275°F. Remove pork belly from brine and with paper towel pat dry. Place on aluminum foil and top with fresh cracked pepper. Wrap tightly, using 2 layers of foil to secure, and roast for 2 hours on baking sheet. Remove from oven and keep wrapped in foil, allow to cool before refrigerating for at least 2 hours to set and firm up, or overnight.
- Use a mandolin to thinly slice carrot and daikon radish or cut into thin strips by hand. In a small bowl add the carrot, radish and rice wine vinegar. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour covered in the refrigerator.
- To make the hoisin spread, mix together in a small bowl the hoisin sauce, peanut butter, chili paste, soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Unwrap pork belly and slice into ½” strips. Heat a large skillet with vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Pan sear and brown on each side. Pour 1 tablespoon soy sauce on top of pork belly strips, turning to coat. Cook until browned and crispy on edges.
- Spread hoisin mixture on both sides of each bun, top with pork belly strips (cut each in half after cooking), marinated carrot and radish and cilantro. Serve immediately.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.