These sweet and succulent marinated pork belly skewers sit on an Asian potato salad incorporating umami packed katsuobushi (bonito flakes), roasted garlic, and spring onions.
While certainly not a Japanese dish, the grilled marinated pork belly and Asian potato salad do draw on a number of Japanese influences. It would be at home at an izakaya, an institution in Japan involving drinking and eating Japanese tapas-style dishes. The book Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook, has a great selection of dishes typically served at an izakaya. Highly recommended.
The pork belly. Decisions, decisions…
One of the bigger decision points when preparing this is whether or not to remove the skin from the pork belly. If you love slightly chewy pork skin, keep it on, though you will really need some sharp tipped skewers. If not, remove the skin. It makes it much easier to thread the pork belly on to the skewers, and is of course less chewy to eat. A personal choice.
Sidebar: If you crave some tasty pork crackling, give this crispy pork belly and kimchi consomme dish a try. Or this Vietnamese roast pork belly baguette. A very different experience to these marinated and grilled pork belly skewers, but recipes not to be missed. Or, if you like your pork belly fork-tender (or chop-stick tender?), the Vietnamese thịt kho nước dừa used atop this Saigon Miso Ramen is so succulent.
“Asian” potato salad
While I call this an “Asian potato salad”, that is just short-hand for a potato salad incorporating Asian influences. Asian cuisine is way too diverse for there to be a dish called an Asian potato salad. The katsuobushi is Japanese, but the roast garlic certainly is not.
Use starchy as opposed to waxy potatoes for the mashed potato salad. I use Yukon Golds, which offer a good balance between starchy and waxy. You want the potatoes to be quite dry and fluffy after being squeezed through the potato ricer.
The term fusion has gone out of favour, and rightly so. So many national cuisines are already a fusion of influences over centuries. I like to think of this marinated pork belly skewers dish as an international dish. It incorporates complementary ingredients and flavours from around the world.
Marinated pork belly skewers on an Asian potato salad
Pork belly skewers
Marinate the pork belly
- Combine all the marinade ingredients.
- Cut the pork belly into appropriately 15 mm square sized pieces. If you do not look forward to savoring the chewy pork skin, then remove it now.
- Add the pork belly and marinade to a zip-lock bag and marinate overnight. Move the bag occasionally to circulate the marinade.
- Follow the instructions here.
Asian potato salad
- Preheat to oven to 200 degC.
- Clean the potatoes, keeping the skin on.
- Put the potatoes on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake the potatoes in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until cooked right through.
- Allow to cool, halve the potatoes, then scoop out the potato flesh. Discard to skins or use in this roasted potato skin salad.
- Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from the roast head of garlic.
- Use a potato ricer to mash the potato flesh. This is critical, as it creates fluffy aerated mashed potatoes.
- Fold in the finely diced spring onions, roast garlic, and 3/4 of the shaved bonito (reserving a 1/4 for garnish).
Pork belly skewers
- Drain the marinade from the pork belly pieces and discard.
- Thread the pork belly pieces and shallots on to the skewers: pork belly, shallot, pork belly (shallot, pork belly). Note that if you have not already removed the pork skin, you will need some sharp tipped skewers.
- Brush or spray the smoke essence on to the pork belly skewers.
- Bring the grill or broiler to a high heat and grill or broil the skewers until starting to char.
- Plate some potato salad, sprinkle with some of the reserved shaved bonito, and top with grilled pork belly skewers.