Sous-Vide Pork Belly Asian Style with Garlicky Broccoli

One of the things you can only do sous-vide is making tough meats tender while keeping them juicy and without cooking them ‘well done’. As I am a great fan of medium rare meat rather than well done, this is one of the reasons why so far, I’ve almost exclusively cooked sous-vide meats that way. The only exceptions have been duck leg confit sous-vide and pulled pork sous-vide. This means cooking meat sous-vide at temperatures between 55ºC/131ºF and 65ºC/149ºF, sometimes as long as 72 hours to allow the meat to become tender at such a relatively low cooking temperature.

Lately I’ve started to wonder about cooking meat sous-vide at higher temperatures. The meat will surely become well done and flaky, but I’m curious whether it is still better than a traditional braise on the stove top and in the oven. There is only one way to find out, and that is to try. The first experiment in this series is pork belly. Usually I cook pork belly sous-vide for 36 to 72 hours at 60ºC/140ºF, but in this case I tried it for 10 hours at 77ºC/170ºF. After that it was briefly crisped under the broiler. The inspiration for the recipe came from a post on Serious Eats. I thought it would be nice with broccoli stir-fried with garlic (inspired by REMCooks.com) and some rice, and that did indeed work well.

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The verdict? The meat was not as juicy as at 60ºC/140ºF, but still juicy enough, and I think I may like the fatty layer better this way. This is certainly a good option if you are pressed for time and don’t have time to wait for 36 or more hours. The bigger succes was the Asian style sauce and the combination with the broccoli. Here’s what I did…

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

300 grams (.66 lb) pork belly

1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 green onion (scallion), chopped

4 Tbsp sugar

4 Tbsp mirin

4 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce

1 Tbsp fish sauce

For the broccoli

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1 head of broccoli (about 500 grams, 1.1 lbs)

1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced

vegetable oil suitable for stir frying

2 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce

Preparation

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Combine ginger, garlic, green onion, sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and fish sauce in the blender.

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Blend until smooth.

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Vacuum seal the pork belly with this mixture. This is easiest in a chamber vacuum sealer, but you can also use a ziploc pouch and the water displacement method.

Cook sous-vide for 10 hours 77ºC/170ºF. If you like you can now quickly cool the meat and refrigerate it until use, or go on straight away.

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Pour the juices from the bag into a saucepan.

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Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a mere simmer. Simmer the sauce until it is thick and syrupy, stirring now and then. Be careful not to allow the sauce to burn.

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Meanwhile, cook the broccoli in the microwave with a bit of water for a few minutes or steam it until it is barely starting to become tender.

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Preheat the broiler and arrange the pork belly on a broiler pan.

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Broil the pork belly until it is nicely browned.

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Meanwhile, stir fry the broccoli in the oil. When the broccoli starts to brown, add the garlic and lower the heat. Stir fry a bit longer, being careful not to burn the garlic.

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Add the soy sauce and stir fry briefly until incorporated. Turn off the heat.

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The pork belly should be nice and crispy.

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Serve the pork belly with the sauce and garlicky broccoli on warm plates with rice.

Wine pairing

This is great with a gewurztraminer from Alto Adige in Italy or another full-bodied dry but aromatic gewurztraminer.

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11 thoughts on “Sous-Vide Pork Belly Asian Style with Garlicky Broccoli

  1. I have a piece of Red Waddle pork belly coming from a local supplier and this looks like the perfect way to cook it, but I’m unclear from your description if you preferred the higher temp, shorter cook time method or if you think the dish would have been better with the lower temp. longer cook time method? Thanks!

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    1. I think I slightly prefer the lower temp, longer cook time, but both are good. It depends on whether or not you prefer a softer texture of the streaks of fat (high temp = firmer texture, as more fat renders). Hope this helps and I hope you’ll like it! Let me know what happens.

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  2. Looking gorgeously good, Stephan. I have to admit that I like my meat well done (strike 1! 😉 ) and that I have never tried the sous-vide cooking method (strike 2! 😉 ) I’m totally intrigued by it although the required time totally scares me. Do you have to check it for 10 hours? This is a real commitment! 😉

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    1. Thanks, Francesca. You don’t have to check sous-vide cooking at all. You just “set it and forget it” for those 10 hours. It will always come out perfect.
      (The commitment only applies when you try to do sous-vide cooking without the appropriate appliance. It is possible, but requires almost constant babysitting of a pot of water with a thermometer.)
      If you like your meat well done (as I would expect from an Italian — no offense), you’d prefer the pork belly cooked at the higher temperature.

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