Think of Hainanese chicken and the ginger-scallion dipping sauce that goes with it. Now, take a slab of salted pork belly, lay it flat skin side down and spread grated ginger and finely sliced shallots over its entire surface. For an even bolder flavor, sprinkle in a couple of tablespoonfuls of minced garlic as well. Roll the pork, tie to secure the filling, steam then roast in a very hot oven. And you have porchetta with the flavors of Hainanese chicken.
Porchetta is Italian rolled and roasted pork. The meat is heavily salted before the herbs are added just before it is rolled. Roasting is the traditional cooking method. In the Philippines where porchetta is so often mispronounced (the correct pronunciation is porketta), some daring food purveyors have given it more familiar names like binusog na lechon which makes it less intimidating — and more attractive — to local diners unfamiliar with Italian food other than pasta and pizza.
I’ve dreamed of making porchetta this way for months. And I’m not just talking about the ginger-and-scallion filling but the steaming part as well. Traditional Italian porchetta is roasted but I wanted a more tender pork without losing the meat’s juices. So, I steamed the rolled pork before putting it in the oven. The result was nothing less than spectacular with Speedy mumbling how tender the meat was between mouthfuls.
Porchetta, Hainanese style
- 1 slab pork belly about 2 kilograms, skin on
- 1/3 cup rock salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons grated ginger (with its juices)
- 1/4 cup finely snipped scallions
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- Rinse the pork and wipe dry.
- Lay the pork belly flat on the work surface with the skin side facing down.
- Spread the salt and pepper over the entire surface of the pork.
- Transfer the pork belly, still skin side down, to a container large enough to hold it without rolling, folding or cutting the meat. Cover tightly and leave in the fridge overnight.
- Take the pork belly out of the fridge and lay flat on the work surface.
- Spread the ginger over the meat followed by the scallions and garlic.
- Roll the pork as tightly as you can then tie it up securely with a sturdy string (we didn't have kitchen twine so I used five equal pieces of crocheting thread).
- Steam over simmering water for two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 470F.
- Transfer the steamed pork belly to a baking tray and roast in the oven for an hour or until the skin is browned and crisp.
- Take the pork belly out of the oven and move to a chopping board. Cool the meat for about 10 minutes before cutting off the strings and slicing the meat.