Filipino lechon kawali is one of the great pork dishes of the world, and the only hard thing about making it is waiting for the boiled pork belly to air-dry in the fridge overnight before being fried until intensely crisp and crunchy on the outside and meltingly tender within.
Why this recipe works:
- Salting the pork liberally and allowing it to air-dry in the refrigerator overnight after boiling results extra crispiness.
- Cutting the pork into 3/4-inch slices creates the right balance between crispy outsides and juicy interior.
- Yield:Serves 6-8
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:10 hours
- 2 pounds boneless skin-on pork belly, cut in half
- 8 medium cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- Kosher salt
- Canola or peanut oil, for frying
- Rice or cane vinegar, preferably spicy, for dipping
Place pork belly, skin side down, in a large pot and add enough water to completely submerge meat. Add garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower heat and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until pork skin can be pierced with a knife with no resistance, about 1 hour. Transfer pork to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and season liberally with salt all over. Refrigerate pork until skin has completely dried, 6 hours or overnight.
Remove pork from refrigerator and cut into 3/4-inch slices.
Fill a wok or Dutch oven at least 4 inches oil and heat to 375°F over high heat. Working in batches, fry pork until deeply browned and skin has bubbled and crisped, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer pork to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt to taste. Cut pork slices into 1/2-inch pieces. Serve immediately with vinegar for dipping.