Pork Belly is a cut of meat created from stomach of pig. This is a very fatty cut of meat in comparison to other meat cuts. Pigs have two stomachs which at an average weighs about nine – eighteen pounds. Generally the stomach portion is cut into thick and long sections and frozen. The frozen pork bellies can remain fresh for long time and they are still considered a major food source in areas experiencing heavy summers. In United States and other parts of the world, the production of this meat cut beefs up around the New Years time, when manufacturers compete with each other to produce the meat in huge quantities to cater the demands of customers during the summer months.
Culinary Usage of Pork Belly
Koreans, Europeans, Americans and Chinese use such frozen pork bellies in many of their food preparations. Some of the popular European food preparations involving this fatty meat cut include Berner Platte (Swiss dish), Schlachtplatte (German dish) and Charcoute Garnie (Alsatian dish). Americans create bacons out of pork meat.
The Chinese dice these bellies, brown them or braise them and marinate or cook them as whole . The Chinese use this meat cut to prepare Dongpo’s Pork or Slowly Braised Pork Belly. Koreans grill them after stuffing the garlic pods all over the meat and serve it with Soju. In US, the raw pork bellies are served as a whole with some accompaniments.
Pork Belly Recipe Variants
- Pancetta – It is a type of bacon consumed in Italy, and it is created from the belly of pork. This bacon is usually cut into slices, cured in salt brine and served after seasoning with spices like dried ground hot peppers, peppercorns, and dried garlic. The pancetta is dried for about three –four months before using. It is also served as a popular side dish in Spain. The thick and long portions of the bacon are chosen, fried dry in olive oil and served. Some Spaniards have this dish with chorizo for their breakfast.
- Rullepølse – This is a Danish term for rolled sausage. The piece of pigs belly is flattened using rolling pins and smeared with herb paste, rolled up and boiled before shaping into rectangular blocks using special press. The meat roll is allowed to get cool and then sliced thinly and served after topping a Smørrebrød (Danish Sandwhich). The Rullepølse is usually garnished with onion rings and bouillion cubes (gelationized) before serving.
- Samgyeopsal – It is a popular Korean dish consisting pieces of raw bacon or pork belly. The meat is grilled at the dinner table. Usually diners indulge in grilling and eat it straight from the grill. Literally the name of the dish refers to the three layers of the meat which are visible to the naked eye. Some of its variants like ogyeopsal has 5 layers. Samgyeopsal is usually teamed with raw garlic, lettuce, shredded green onions, perilla leaves, and aged kimchi. The garlic, kimchi and onions are sometimes grilled with samgyeopsal or served raw. The dish is always accompanied with atleast two types of dipping sauces like ssamjang and gireumjang.
- Kimchi jjigae – This is a popular Korean Stew prepared with ingredients like onions, scallions, seafood, diced tofu and pork belly. Fermented and ripe kimchis are used in the preparation of this dish, and they are sliced, and cooked with pork and other vegetable ingredients in a pot. This dish is usually served on dinner table and teamed with rice or bachan.
- Choucroute garnie – This is a sauerkraut dish from Alsace in France. It is cooked with ingredients like butter, Alsace bacon, white cabbage, white wine and white wine vinegar. Apart from it herbs, and spices, or jam, honey or chutney are also used for seasoning. The dish is usually served hot.
- Schlachteplatte – A popular German dish consisting of freshly cooked belly of pork and Leberwurst or Bratwurst sausages. Juices ooze out of the sausages during the cooking process and these juices are served as an accompaniment. This dish is eaten only the day of slaughtering.
The people involved in trading often use the term “pork bellies”, but many people are unaware that real pork bellies are traded as commodities in many stock exchanges across the world. The Pork belly Futures are actively traded since 1961 and they were first traded at Chicago Mercentile Exchange. The trading for this food commodity is totally based on rate of demand and the current supplies of the frozen bellies of a pig. The worth of these bellies solely depends on the customers and amount of the meat they aspire to purchase at any given point of time. The basic unit for trading the pork bellies is twenty tons of frozen and trimmed portions of bellies. The bellies of pork usually trade higher around the summer months and its trade value decreases during the winters, when demand for bacon is high. Many trading experts recommend people to invest in this food commodity than in spices, because they believe that it is going to be a very good investment in future.