Caramel Pork Belly - Understanding Unctuous Unctuousness

The only thing more popular than pork belly is using the word "unctuous" to describe it. If you're not familiar with the word, it has several definitions, but in a foodie context it's used to describe something rich, luxurious, and fabulously fatty - think bone marrow, foie gras, and of course, pork belly.

If you're a food writer, and you're doing a review or article about pork belly, you have to use the word unctuous or unctuousness whether you understand what it means or not. Ironically, another meaning for the adjective is, "Characterized by affected, exaggerated, or insincere earnestness."

I wasn't really sure I understood the true essence of unctuousness, but after eating this caramel pork belly I'm
pretty sure I get it now. Each bite was pure pleasure. I'm usually a very fast eater (aka former line cook syndrome), but I tried to eat as slowly as I possibly could. It was just so unctuous.

While I used a very intense Asian-influenced sauce to compliment the rich pork, this same technique could be used for many variations. Once the pork is cooked and crisped-up, I can think of dozens of other sauces that would be stellar.

By the way, if you are concerned about eating that much fat, don't be. The piece of pork belly I used made two fairly modest portions, about 3 1/2-ounces each, once cooked. That's about three tablespoon of fat. That Chicken Caesar salad you had last week because you wanted "something light" had way more fat than that, so relax and enjoy!

If the Vimeo Player isn't working, here is the YouTube version:

10-oz slab of pork belly (Berkshire pork if you can get it)
1 bunch green onions
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp Asian fish sauce
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ginger juice
4 cloves sliced garlic
4 whole dried red chilies (unbroken)
1/2 cup water

Foodie Note: I almost used this recipe from Michael Ruhlman for Chicken Fried Pork Belly Caesar, which looked and sounded incredible! Maybe next time.

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