This sandwich takes a bit of time and love to make, but take one bite and your hard work will be rewarded by a perfect balance of colors, textures and flavors.
Braised in hoisin sauce and soy sauce, the pork belly takes on a mahogany brown hue on the outside while absorbing the flavors of the sweet spices on the inside. The spicy peanut butter adds a nutty element along with some heat to the sandwich. The cucumbers add a cooling element while the cilantro lightens the pork with some fresh green notes.
Texturally, the crisp baguette and the crunchy cucumbers play a wonderful juxtaposition to the creamy melt-in-your mouth pork.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours 30 min (includes 3 hours roasting time)
Total time: 3 hours and 40 minutes
Yields: 2 sandwiches
Chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon oil
2 pounds pork belly
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup Chinese cooking wine (shao xing)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup hoisin sauce
½ cup The Heat Is On peanut butter
1 hothouse cucumber, sliced
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Baguette or hero rolls
1. Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 275°F.
2. Sprinkle all sides of the pork belly with the cinnamon and Chinese five spice powder. Heat a Dutch oven large enough to hold the pork belly in a single layer over medium high heat until very hot. Add the oil then add the pork belly allowing it to brown undisturbed. Turn the pork and brown on the next side. Repeat until all 4 sides are browned. Transfer the pork belly to a plate and set aside.
3. Add the garlic to the pan and brown. Add the cooking wine, and allow it to boil until the alcohol smell is gone. Add the soy sauce and hoisin sauce and cook until it’s very viscous. Put the pork belly back in the pan and roll it around to coat all sides with the sauce. Cover with a lid and put it in the oven for 3-4 hours or until a fork easily passes tough. Be sure to flip the pork at least once while it’s in the oven to ensure it’s seasoned evenly.
4. Transfer the pork belly to a plate. Skim the fat off of the braising liquid and boil over medium high heat until the sauce is nice and thick. Add 3 tablespoons of the braising liquid to a small bowl with the peanut butter and stir to combine.
5. Once the pork has cooled enough to handle, slice into 1/4” thick pieces. Slice the baguette in half (from end to end). Spread the peanut butter mixture on one side of the bread (you may have some peanut butter left over depending on the size of your baguette). Lay the pork belly on the peanut butter and top with cucumbers, cilantro and scallions.