Starters

November 22, 2021

Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps

Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps

Pork belly wraps are one of our favorite dishes of all time and our go to way to eat pork belly. They strike the perfect balance between wanting to eat something that will keep you full but still seems light and is full of flavor! These make for a great appetizer or a main meal.

These pork belly lettuce wraps are perfectly sweet, spicy and fragrant and will make you coming back for more!

Ready to make this recipe?

For these pork belly lettuce wraps we make everything from scratch so to make it easier, we've broken it down in the following sections:

  1. Curing
  2. Roasting
  3. Portioning
  4. Making the glaze
  5. Pan roasting
  6. Toppings

Curing the Pork Belly

The reason you want to season, or cure, the belly the day before is because this will allow the salt and sugar to properly penetrate the pork belly and season the whole thing as opposed to having a salty “crust” on the outside and lacking flavor on the inside. You can skip the “curing” period of one day if you are in a bind but the end result will be much more consistent and even if you do cure it.

Here are a few tips to curing:

  • Using ratios: When it comes to curing meat, it's difficult to use an exact recipe because almost every cut of meat is different in size and weight. That is why we use ratios for this recipe instead of exact measurements.
  • Pork belly weight: For a full sized pork belly, the weight is typically anywhere from 8-12 pounds. The size of portioned pork belly most commonly found is around two pounds. What we used for our pork belly wraps was  a 2 pound slab of boneless, skinless pork belly. This technique would also work perfectly for a full pork belly but again, you will have to adapt the amount accordingly.
  • The ratio to use: The ratio you'll want to use is the following: 2 parts kosher salt to 1 part granulated sugar (by weight) and 1 ounce of cure per every 2 pounds of meat.

Roasting the Pork Belly

After you've cured it, you're ready to roast it in the oven! We recommend roasting it to a temperature of 165 F!

Portioning the Pork Belly

Once you allow the pork belly to fully chill, you'll want to portion the belly into your desired size. Here's the best way to do this:

  • Thickness of the slice: Slice the belly into strips that are about the width of your pointer finger thick. You'll then want to cut into "lardons" or more easily put, elongated, rectangular dice.
  • If you do not plan on using the whole belly: If this is case, only portion what you need for this recipe and wrap the remaining portion with plastic wrap and refrigerate (will last up to 6 days) or freeze it (will last for months as long as it is wrapped well).

Making the Pork Belly Glaze

For the sauce, we like to use the base of Mae Ploy, which is a Thai chili sauce that packs just the right amount of heat while retaining a subtly-sweet finish that keeps you coming back for more. While you can certainly use Mae Ploy or another sweet chili sauce by itself as the glaze for the pork belly, the additions of the other ingredients really make it “pop” with flavor.


The lime zest and lemongrass bring a fragrant-floral note with the hoisin adding an earthy-sweetness and the lime juice cuts through the sweetness, while the soy sauce rounds everything out with a funky-salty flavor. All of the added ingredients each bring another flavor profile to the party that makes your palate ring.


Cooking is about balance, so we highly suggest playing around with the ingredients in this glaze and adding different amounts to see the differences and what you like best. Depending on the chili sauce base you use, you may need to adjust the flavor a bit.


  • Saltier: add soy sauce
  • Sweeter: add honey
  • Spicier: add sriracha
  • Earthier: add hoisin
  • Acidic: add lime juice

Pan Roasting the Pork Belly

This is what we all "twice cooked"! By pan roasting in addition to oven roasting, it will make the pork belly have that amazing crispiness to it.

Toppings and Assembling the Wraps

This is by far the best part because it's almost eating time! You could either serve the pork belly wraps family style or prepare them in advance. We like to top ours of with the following:


Let us in the comments what you're favorite part about these Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps are. We'd love to know!

Cheers and eat well!

Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps

Twice cooked, perfectly crispy pork belly wraps glazed in a sweet, spicy and fragrant sauce. Best topped with pickled vegetables, cilantro and peanuts.

Author:

Alejandra Diaz del Valle

Prep:

60

min

cook:

120

min

total:

180

min

serves:

6

Ingredients

For Curing

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless pork belly
  • 1 tablespoon (about ½ ounce) kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons (or ¼ ounce) of granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the Glaze

  • 2 cups sweet chili sauce (we recommend Mae Ploy)
  • ½ cup hoisin
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (peeled and grated)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemongrass (grated or finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed into a paste)
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 2 limes (zested and juiced)

Lettuce and Toppings

  • 18 large, sturdy leaves of bibb lettuce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
  • 18 plucked cilantro sprigs
  • 1 pound or about 30 pork belly lardons
  • ½ cup pickled vegetables of your choice (we love using lemon dill cucumber pickles)

Instructions

Curing the Pork Belly

  1. Use a ratio: 2 parts kosher salt to 1 part granulated sugar (by weight); 1 ounce of cure per every 2 pounds of meat.
  2. Mix your salt and sugar together and liberally season the pork belly on every surface with the mixture.
  3. Crack black pepper on the belly and store it in a container in the cooler for about 24 hours.

Oven Roasting the Pork Belly

  1. When roasting the belly, preheat your oven to 275 F.
  2. Take the belly out of the container you were curing it in in the fridge and pat the belly dry with paper towels and place it, fat side down in a pan that is deep enough to maintain the fat that will render from the belly while cooking (about 1-2 inches).
  3. Put the pan with the belly in the oven and cook for 50 minutes. After the 50 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, gently flip the belly so that it is now fat side up (be careful not to splash yourself with hot pork fat) and continue cooking for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature of the pork belly is 165 F and the fat starts to become slightly crispy. When fully cooked, gently remove the belly from the pan, strain off the roasted pork fat (great for sauteing vegetables and confit cooking), and allow to cook before portioning.

Portioning the Pork Belly

  1. Once you allow the pork belly to fully chill (about 6 hours), slice the belly into strips that are about the width of your pointer finger thick.
  2. Then lay them flat and cut them again, about the thickness of your pointer finger so you are left with “lardons” or elongated, rectangular dice  that are about equal thickness and about the size of your finger from the middle joint down.

Making the Glaze

  1. Add the sweet chili sauce, hoisin, soy sauce into a bowl and whisk until everything is one even color and everything is blended.
  2. For the ginger: peel the ginger and grate it finely on a microplane into the chili sauce. If you do not have a microplane, peel, then finely chop the ginger.
  3. For the lemongrass: Cut off the very bottom root end of the stalk of lemongrass so that the root is gone and the white base is showing (less than ¼ inch). Begin zesting the lemongrass on a microplane, root end down, removing fibrous exterior strands of the outer shell as you go, onto a cutting board. When you have enough lemongrass zested, pick out any strands that may have fallen in and chop them finely. Add the lemongrass to the chili sauce.
  4. For the garlic: After peeling the garlic, gently smash the cloves with the side of your knife and roughly chop the garlic so that it resembles the size of the ginger. Sprinkle one pinch of salt onto the garlic and smear the garlic with the side of your knife across your cutting board so that it starts to form a paste. Add the second pinch of salt and continue smearing the salt into the garlic until it forms a relatively smooth paste and no large chunks are remaining.
  5. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and lime juice and zest to the chili sauce and whisk to evenly incorporate.

Pan Roasting the Pork Belly

  1. Heat your saute pan on medium heat and add about one teaspoon of the roasted pork fat into the pan.
  2. Add the pork belly lardons to the pan and cook, moving occasionally to ensure even cooking, for about 4-6 minutes or until all sides of each lardon are golden brown.
  3. Once the lardons are golden brown, turn off the heat, strain off the pork fat that is rendered out into the pan, and add the pork belly glaze into the pan.
  4. Toss, or stir, the belly so that they are fully coated in the glaze.

Assembling the Pork Belly Wraps

  1. Assemble your wraps or serve them family style with the toppings and enjoy!

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