The melt-in-your-mouth sous vide pork belly paired with a tangy blueberry reduction is a combination that both excites and satisfies. Created as a course in a tasting menu, this dish also works great as an appetiser.
Pork belly features prominently in the cuisines of Asia. Whether barbecued over charcoal, cured and smoked and served as bacon or cooked long and slow, the flesh from the pig’s belly area is a flexitarian’s treat. This dish is very much in the long and slow category.
Cooking long and slow breaks down the connective tissue in the pork belly. This results in fork-tender meat and silky-soft fat. Even the skin, normally quite chewy, becomes a tasty glutinous sensation. As the title suggests, cooking long and slow in this recipe involves the sous vide method.
But first, there is the marinade. The primary role of the marinade is to add an extra dimension to the flavour. The umami from the soy sauce and Worcestershire and the honey’s sweetness enhance the mild taste of the pork belly meat and the unctuous layers of fat. The balsamic vinegar’s acidity also has a slight tenderizing effect, breaking down the long muscle fibres in the pork belly to make the meat more tender.
Marinating for 12 to 24 hours (aka overnight) would be ideal. The sous vide cooking takes another 12 hours. So, best start this sous vide pork belly dish a couple of days before serving it. That seems like a lot of planning, it is, but enjoying this dish is a memory you will savour for a long time to come.
The crowning glory, so to speak, is the blueberry reduction. Blueberries are a favourite on delectabilia, and reductions are a wonderful way to integrate blueberries into a dish. Depending on the ingredients added to the blueberry reduction, it can be sweet as with this gin enhanced reduction, or savoury, as with this dish. Either way, the blueberries work their magic.
Sous vide pork belly with a blueberry reduction
- 250 g blueberries
- 1 tsp grated lime zest
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp liquid honey
- Combine the marinade ingredients.
- Add pork belly and marinade to ziplock bag and refrigerate overnight.
- Transfer the pork belly, with only a coating of the marinade, to a sous vide vacuum bag and seal (or use a ziplock bag and the water displacement method).
- Sous vide at 76 degC for 12 hours.
- Remove the bag from the sous vide bath and plunge into ice water to cool.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to cook (will keep in the sealed bag for a few days).
- Preheat a broiler to high.
- Remove the pork belly from the bag and remove any marinade or solid chunks of fat.
- Broil the pork belly until starting to char (3 – 4 minutes). Turn over and do the other side.
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- Slice the pork belly into 1.5cm thick slices.
- To a sauté pan add the blueberries, lime zest, water, balsamic, and honey. Stir together.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the blueberries start to break up and the liquid reduces and thickens.