These Maple Pork Belly Bites make the perfect appetizer for the holiday season. They are sweet, savoury, spicy and are packed with tons of flavour. Plus the bite-sized portions really help you control this rich cut of meat!
Sweet and Salty Pork Belly Bites
Pork belly comes from– you guessed it– the belly of the pig. The cut of meat is what is also used to make bacon. It is heavily marbled with meat and fat, meaning that it will be juicy, tender and flavourful once cooked. I prefer to roast or braise the pork belly for a few hours in the oven so that the fat renders off slowly. Plus, this makes the meat super tender! This cut of meat typically comes with a thick cap of fat and pork skin. This gets nice and crispy when roasted under the broiler. It is important to lightly score the fat with a sharp knife so that the pork cooks evenly.
I buy my Pork Belly from Fairway Market in Victoria. Fairway is an Asian grocery store that has just about any Asian food you would want. They always have fresh pork belly in the butcher section and it is always great quality. I highly recommend going to Fairway if you want this cut of meat and if you live in the greater Victoria area!
How to Prepare Pork Belly
Like I mentioned previously, I prefer to braise my Pork Belly so that the fat renders and the meat becomes tender. Prior to braising, I rub the pork belly with my blend of Chinese Five Spice powder. This spice blend contains cinnamon, star anise, clove, fennel seed, and Sichuan peppercorns. This sweet and spicy blend pairs perfectly with pork!
After rubbing the pork belly with this blend, I add it to a baking dish with some water and some bay leaves for extra flavour. The pork then braised in the oven for 1.5 hours until fully cooked. Once the pork belly is cooked, I then broil it under the broiler so that the skin and fat get nice and crispy. This crispy piece is my favourite part! The combination of the crispy fat and the juicy meat is perfect!
After broiling, I toss the pork belly in a sweet and spicy sauce made from maple syrup, rice syrup, sesame oil, and sriracha hot sauce. Yum! Once the sauce has become sticky and caramelized, the pork belly is served with a garnish of sesame seeds and sliced scallions. Double yum!
I serve these pork belly warm from the oven on a cute platter. You don’t need to make too many of these as the pork belly is extremely rich and I find that guests will likely only take 1-2 small pieces each.
Enjoy these Maple Pork Belly Bites at your next holiday get together! #AppyHolidays!
Get the Recipe!
Maple Belly Pork Bites
- 1.5 pounds pork belly
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns ground
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup rice syrup
- 1/4 cup Sriracha hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 scallions/green onions sliced, for garnish
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Place the pork belly fat-side up in a 9x12 inch baking pan. The pork belly should just fit in the pan and there shouldn't be much room around it.
- Use a sharp knife to score the fat on the top of the pork belly. Score the fat into 1 inch (2.5 cm) squares so that you can see how to cut the pork belly once cooked. Make sure that you don't cut all the way through the fat and into the meat, just cut 1/2 way down through the fat.
- In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, clove, star anise, fennel seed, Sichuan peppercorns, salt and black pepper. Once combined, sprinkle the spice mixture over the pork belly. Make sure to rub the spices in and to cover all sides of the meat.
- Once the meat is coated in the spice mixture, add the water and bay leaves to the baking dish. Cover the entire baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.
- After the pork belly has cooked, remove it from the oven and let it cool for 15-20 minutes, until it is cool enough to touch. Remove the pork belly from the pan and place it on a cutting board. Discard the remaining water and bay leaves.
- Preheat the broiler to 500 degrees F and move the oven rack to the top of the oven.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the pork belly into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes, using the score marks as a guide. If there is still a thick layer of fat on top of the pork belly, trim the fat so that there is 1/2 cm of fat on top of the meat. Arrange the pork belly cubes back into the dish, fat side up. It is easy if you lean them against each other in the same order as they were cut.
- Place the baking dish under the broiler for 7-10 minutes, or until the pork fat has become golden and crisp. Definitely keep an eye on it so that the fat doesn't burn. Once the fat has become crisp, remove it from the oven.
- In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, rice syrup, Sriracha and sesame oil. Pour the sauce over the pork belly bites, tossing them to fully coat. They don't need to be fat-side up this time, just in an even layer in the baking dish. Place the baking dish under the broiler and broil for 5-7 minutes, tossing every few minutes so that the sauce doesn't burn. The sauce will thicken up and become very sticky.
- Once the sauce is sticky, remove the baking dish from the oven and place the pork belly bites onto a serving plate. Garnish with the chopped scallions and sesame seeds and enjoy!