Vietnamese Crispy Pork Belly Infused with Vodka
When it comes to a hero protein dish, you can’t go past a crispy pork belly. In this Vietnamese version, the pork belly is marinated in a combination of garlic, five spice, fish sauce, red tandoori colouring and the secret ingredient, a spice infused vodka which I’ll show you how to make yourself using Eiko Japanese Vodka.
To get the crispiest crackling, you need to make sure the skin is completely dried out before you cook it, so ideally you need to dry it out uncovered in your fridge for at least a day or overnight, which also allows time for the marinade to infuse into the meat.
You can serve this in several ways: in rice paper rolls, as crispy pork banh mi rolls, as crispy pork vermicelli bowls or even on its own. It pairs perfectly with my Nuoc Cham recipe, which is a Vietnamese dipping sauce.
Cooking Time- 2 hours plus marinating/drying time
Skill Level- Easy
- 1kg of Pork Belly, skin scored 1cm thick and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons of flakey salt
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 250ml of vodka
- 2 tablespoons of a mix of spices: 1 cinnamon stick, 6 star anise, 6 cloves, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
Pork Belly Marinade
- 1 tablespoon of infused vodka
- 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons of fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons of chilli oil
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of red tandoori colouring
- 1 teaspoon of five spice
- Salt and pepper to taste
Watch the process
- Ideally two days before you cook the pork, prepare your infused vodka by adding your spices into a jar and pouring in your vodka.
- Allow to infuse overnight or until the vodka turns a brownish colour.
- Meanwhile mix all of your marinade ingredients together into a bowl and then using gloves or a spoon, cover the pork in the marinade except for the skin.
- Pat the skin dry and place onto a tray uncovered in the fridge overnight for at least 8 hours.
- Remove from the fridge and allow it to come back to room temperature for about 30 minutes.
- Drizzle oil onto the skin and massage with your fingers. Sprinkle a generous amount of flakey salt.
- Place into a ripping hot oven at 250 degrees celsius for at least 20 minutes or until the skin starts to puff and turn into crackling.
- Lower the heat and cook for another 45 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing up and serving.
When you say lower the heat, what are we lowering it to?
To cook the pork belly, place it onto a super hot oven, hottest it can go at about
250 degrees Celsius or even more for about 20-25 mins until all of the pork skin has puffed up into crackling and then lower the heat to 180 degrees Celsius to cook for another hour so that the rest of the pork belly cooks through.
If you're cooking with a larger piece of meat (this one was 1kg), it need a bit longer at both parts of the cook.
Do you just use the spiced vodka or the spices as well to marinate?
Just a tablespoon of the infused vodka only. A few peppercorns might have escaped when I went to grab some of the liquid which is fine but you only need the vodka portion. The marinade needs to be smooth, which is why everything is ground or cut up finely like the garlic and five spice powder.
Any alternatives to using vodka?
You could use Chinese Xiaoxing cooking wine or even a sake. However, my family uses vodka for the same reasons as to why you add it to pasta. Firstly, adding vodka tenderises the meat and it's colourless and odourless so it won't impart any colour of flavour into your cooking unlike a wine beer or other spirit. Also most people would have some vodka or leftover vodka lying around at home or in their bar.
What do you do with the spiced vodka? Drink it?!
Keep it for the next time you cook the recipe or experiment by adding it to marinades for other proteins like beef, lamb, chicken etc. Vodka lasts indefinitely. I currently have mine sitting on my bookshelf with a whole lot of other infused vodkas I made during lockdown as my bar cart is too full.
I feel like you could add a small bit to make some adventurous cocktail in the same style as using a sliced rum but I'm yet to try it!
What do I do with the leftover pork belly?
So, you can chop up the pork belly into small pieces and make it into a Vermicelli bowls with vermicelli, cucumber, fresh herbs, pickled carrot and Nuoc Cham/ Vietnamese Dipping sauce! Check out my Spring Rolls recipe for the process and substitute the spring rolls for pork belly as the protein
Or, you could get yourself a nice baguette and turn this into crispy pork belly
BANH MI! I made this back in August with what was in my fridge for lunch so it's not traditional but it was, butter, rocket, pork belly, pickled carrot and chilli oil