Liempo (pork belly) nuggets
There’s chicken nuggets, fish nuggets and even vegetarian mock chicken nuggets made with soya. In the case of chicken nuggets, despite consistently appearing in lists of the most unhealthy food items, they remain popular especially among young children. At home, we like to make our own with real chicken fillets instead of the ground discarded chicken parts which commercial chicken nuggets are made of. At least, we used to. The girls are all grown up, I haven’t heard Alex ask for chicken nuggets in a long time and Sam has turned vegetarian so she sticks to her soya-based mock chicken nuggets.
I haven’t given nuggets a thought in years until today. Speedy and I were at the grocery a few days ago and he bought a slab of pork belly while casually explaining that “may gagawin ako (I’m going to do something with it).” I said nothing and, when I woke up this morning (noon, actually), he was already simmering the pork belly in a huge pan. I didn’t ask what dish he was making; I was only too happy to be relieved of cooking duties for the day. He saw something on Eat Street, he said. The slab of pork belly is simmered until tender, cut into cubes, dredged in flour, dipped in egg, rolled in bread crumbs, skewered then deep fried. Skewered pork belly nuggets, essentially. It sounded delicious.
In the end, Speedy skipped the skewer part. I didn’t care. The pork belly nuggets were sensational — tender moist meat coated in crisp crumbs. He even made a hot sweet-sour sauce to go with it. I ate too much at lunch.
Note that you cannot skip the simmering part. With pork cubes this large, the breading will be burnt before the meat gets cooked through.
To make the pork belly nuggets, you need simmer a slab of pork belly in generously salted water until tender. For richer flavors, throw in a couple of garlic cloves and some peppercorns. Drain and cool the pork the cut into cubes.
Next, prepare the coating. The easiest way to do this part is to make an assembly line using three shallow bowls. Put flour in the first bowl, beat an egg in the second and put bread crumbs (we use panko at home) in the third. This system is illustrated in the chicken katsu post.
Heat plenty of cooking oil in a wok.
Take each pork cube and, in this order, dredge in flour, dip in the beaten egg then roll in bread crumbs. Deep fry in batches just until the coating is nicely browned and crisp.
For the sauce, just stir together some rice vinegar, Sriracha, honey, salt and pepper.