It’s essentially sweet and sour pork but using balsamic vinegar for the sour component gave the dish a more nuanced finish. It’s not a saucy, drippy dish either — the amount of honey-balsamic mixture is just enough to glaze the meat.
This is a kind of celebratory dish. Summer this year was short and although there haven’t been too many typhoons — thankfully — it’s been cool for the past several weeks. We stopped using the air-con because, day and night, it almost feels like the December weather that I adore and wish we had all year ’round.
Not that the cool weather doesn’t come with misfortune. There have been floods. Not here on the hilly suburb where we live but down in the metropolitan area and places near the coastlines. I empathize with families who have lost properties and livelihoods. I commiserate with workers and students in Metro Manila who brave the rains and threats of flash floods everyday because, often, the local governments are simply too slow in deciding whether to suspend classes and work on a day to day basis.
Here at home, both my daughters haven’t been taking well to this year’s early and consistent wet season. Both girls developed skin rashes. Usually, it is hot and humid between typhoons and it doesn’t get consistently cool until late in November. This time, well, the continuous rains have brought with it more unidentified insects that are wreaking havoc on their skin as well as with the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the garden.
Alex laments how she can’t fix her beloved plants because the moment one steps into the garden, the insects that have settled among the leaves and branches of the huge mango tree start buzzing as though ready to attack if one comes too near. Obviously, we need sunshine for a few consecutive days to get rid of them.
Personally, I love the weather. Every time I cook without perspiring, I feel like doing a happy dance. With that kind of mood, I cooked a dish that I first made back in July of 2014. A very meaty lunch. Speedy’s favorite — pork belly cut into chunks, seasoned, dredged in starch, deep fried then tossed with a sauce made with honey and balsamic vinegar.
This is an updated recipe. Back in 2014, only bell pepper and onion went with the pork. This time, there were carrot and mushrooms to accompany the bell pepper. And, in lieu of the onion, some scallions for a bright and fresh finish.
The cooking begins by sauteeing the mushrooms and julienned carrot and bell pepper with a bit of salt and pepper.
About two inches of oil is heated, and the seasoned and starch-coated pork is fried in batches until golden and crisp.
The oil is poured off and, in the same wok, honey and balsamic vinegar are heated until bubbly.
Off the heat, the fried pork is tossed in the sauce and, finally, the mushrooms and vegetables are tossed in to catch a little of that beautiful sauce too.
The crispy pork chunks with honey balsamic sauce is transferred to a platter and sliced scallions are sprinkled in.
Crispy pork chunks with honey-balsamic sauce
- 500 grams pork belly (with a good marbling of fat), cut into bite-size pieces
- cooking oil
- 1 small carrot peeled and julienned
- 100 grams fresh mushrooms (see notes after the recipe)
- 1 bell pepper deseeded and julienned
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup tapioca starch or potato or corn starch
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- sliced scallions to garnish
Place the pork chunks in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix well. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or frying pan.
Saute the carrot, mushrooms and bell pepper with a sprinkle of salt and pepper for about a minute. Do not overcook. Scoop out, move to a plate and set aside.
Pour enough oil into the wok or frying pan to reach a depth of at least two inches. Heat until fine wisps of smoke float on the surface.
Add the starch to the seasoned pork and toss to coat each piece.
Drop the pork chunks one by one into the hot oil, shaking off excess starch back into the bowl.
Cook the pork, in batches of your wok or pan is on the small side, until golden, crisp and cooked through. Scoop out and move to a rack or strainer.
Pour off the oil from the wok or frying pan.
Reheat the pan and pour in the honey and balsamic vinegar. Stir and allow to get bubbly. Turn off the heat.
Add the fried pork to the sauce and toss to coat each piece.
Add the sauteed vegetables and mushrooms to the pork and toss to distribute.
Transfer the crispy pork chunks with honey balsamic sauce to a platter. Sprinkle with sliced scallions before serving.
I used shimeji mushrooms. Sliced caps of shiitake will work well too.
This is an update of the recipe originally published in July 1, 2014.