If you’ve been following me for some time you may not realize that I like to be healthy, like really healthy. I work out almost every day and eat healthy (most of the time). This might come as a surprise because most of what I create and post here isn’t necessarily about living a healthy lifestyle. The reason? I also like bacon, beer, and cider, oh and jelly beans (can’t forget about jelly beans!). My desire to have a ripped six pack and my desire to eat and drink tasty things are at complete odds with each other. Which, I think, is a pretty normal experience for most of us and like most of us my love for food and drink beats my desire for a six pack. The struggle is real. This is also why, thehesitantchef.com is about food, beer, and cider and isn’t a health blog. I’m a chef first and a fitness instructor second.
Let me clarify. It’s not that I eat whatever junk is put in front of me. To me food is about quality not quantity, unless of course you were talking to the 15 year old me. Damn teenagers and their high metabolisms. This means that I strive to make most of my food from raw ingredients. This puts my fragile health consciousness at ease because at least I’m not eating processed foods like most people. Yeah, I’m judging you, Judith, put down the potato chip and go for a walk. So although I like to eat food and a lot of it, it doesn’t mean I’m willing to compromise on the quality of those ingredients. Cooking from scratch is the best way to do this. Which brings me to this Crispy Cider Pork Belly recipe.
Bacon and other processed meats are notoriously bad for you. They are full of nitrates and when ingested turn into nitrites. And those bad boys can cause cancer. I think it’s wise to limit, as much as possible, your intake of them. Plus, pork belly, which is what bacon is before curing and smoking, is more readily available than it has ever been before. Having raw ingredients allows you to flavour and cook it anyway you’d like. The possibilities are endless, where before you were limited with bacon because some factory already did the flavouring for you. So, no excuses, get out their and try something new and cook with Pork Belly! Oh and tell yourself that it's "healthy" because it's a "raw" ingredient, I do.
Crispy Cider Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps
1 Tallboy of Seagram Apple Cider or your own home brew cider
1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce
1 Teaspoon Roasted Sesame Seed Oil
1 Small Onion, Julienned
3 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
3 Cloves of Garlic, Crushed
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Chili Flakes
1 Lime, Thinly Sliced
1” Long piece of Ginger, Thinly Sliced
1 Granny Smith Apple, Thinly Sliced
1 Head of Butter Lettuce
2 Green Onions, Chopped
Sesame Seeds, Garnish
See my recipe for pickled Carrots and Diakon, Here
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small roasting pan mix together cider, fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Add in ginger, garlic gloves, chill flakes, and lime. Add in pork bellies and give everything a good mix. Cook in oven for 1 hour.
While the pork bellies are braising prepare the butter lettuce. You want to grab leaves that are similar in size and make good cups (no holes, rips). Rinse and dry the lettuce and set aside.
After an hour the pork bellies are ready to be taken out of the braising liquid. Strain the braising liquid into a small pot and skim out as much fat as possible. Reduce the braising liquid by half. Add in toasted sesame seed oil. Taste and season with sugar or salt if needed.
Preheat a medium sized sauté pan to medium-low heat. Drizzle pan with cooking oil and place pork bellies in pan. Cook on both sides until brown and crispy. Remove from pan and cut into half inch cubes.
Assemble lettuce cups by with pickled carrots, daikon, thinly sliced apple, crispy pork bellies, green onions, sauce, and sprinkle with Sesame seeds.
Served Immediately, Enjoy!