Cooking the perfect pork belly can be challenging. Achieving crispy skin and tender meat isn’t easy, especially if you are doing it for the first time! Luckily, if you have an air fryer, it can be a breeze. Learn how to air fry pork belly and prepare a mouthwatering dish like a pro!
Traditionally, most people will deep fry pork belly to achieve crunchy skin and mouthwatering flesh. Nonetheless, it isn’t healthy. For a guilt-free alternative, the air fryer can be your savior.
Are you ready to impress your guests, or even yourself, with a delicious air-fried pork belly? Read on and I will share how to do it!
Why Cook Pork Belly in an Air Fryer
The best thing about cooking pork belly in an air fryer is that it is a healthier alternative to cooking it in oil. Deep frying food carries health risks, such as clogged arteries, heart attack, and stroke. Nonetheless, take note as well that pork belly has fats. Plus, it is red meat, so it isn’t healthy. But when you choose a healthier cooking method, you’ll feel less guilty.
Aside from being better for your health, air frying pork belly is also safer, minimizing the risks of fire. When you deep fry, you cook at high temperatures. More so, oil is a flammable liquid, which can make it a hazard. If you use an air fryer instead, the risks are minimal.
Not to mention, air frying is convenient. No need to deal with oil splatters. The mess is minimal. Plus, the clean-up can be a breeze since most air frying baskets or pans come with non-stick coating.
Aside from deep frying, some might resort to using the oven instead. However, one problem is that it can be slow. An air fryer can heat and cook food faster by as much as 25%.
A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Air Fry Pork Belly
It might seem intimidating, but air-frying pork belly is easy. There are variations by which you can do it. In the recipe I am sharing below, I am focusing on maximizing the flavor from the ingredients I will use.
- 1 and ½ pounds of pork belly
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- Grated ginger
- Minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon baking powder
- Oil spray
- Start one night before you cook. Cut pork belly into strips or bite sizes. They are easier to cook and eat when they are smaller.
- Once they are cut, put them in a bowl. Rub salt on the skin and meat.
- With the skin side up, sprinkle black pepper on the skin.
- Put the pork belly strips in the fridge and let them sit overnight. Do not freeze.
- When it is time to cook, take the meat out of the fridge. Pat the meat dry with paper towels.
- In a bowl, mix garlic powder and baking powder. Add the pork belly, making sure to liberally cover the meat.
- Preheat the air fryer to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spray cooking oil on the basket. The best oil for an air fryer is one that has a neutral flavor, which will not overpower the taste of the meat and the seasonings in it.
- Arrange the pork belly in the air fryer with the skin side up. Do not stack. Ensure there is enough space between each piece.
- Cook the pork belly for 25 minutes.
- In a bowl, mix ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and hoisin sauce. Brush on the skin of the pork.
- Increase the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for 20 more minutes.
- Check the color and texture of the skin. If it is not yet as crispy as you want, cook it for five more minutes and check.
Tips and Tricks for Cooking Pork Belly in Air Fryer
Cook pork belly like a pro by keeping in mind the things mentioned below:
- Choose fresh pork from a trusted butcher. Look for cuts with a good ratio of fat and meat. You need fat as it will make the dish moist. Otherwise, it can be too dry and difficult to chew.
- Pat the meat dry before air frying. This will help in drawing excess moisture from the skin, and hence, it will be easier to make it crispy.
- If you want to test if it is crispy, poke the skin but make sure to not get through the meat. Otherwise, the juices will escape from the meat, and it might be soggy.
- Adjust the cooking times mentioned above based on your needs. You might end up burning the pork belly.
- Do you want to make clean-up easier? Consider adding parchment paper to the air fryer basket. This will prevent the meat from leaving sticky residues that can be difficult to remove.
What to Eat with Air Fryer Pork Belly
Make your meal more filling and delicious by complementing pork belly with the right sauces and sides.
Dips and Sauces
- Sweet Soy Sauce and Vinegar: Tangy, salty, and sweet, the combination of soy sauce, vinegar, and minced onions can elevate the flavors of pork belly.
- Honey Garlic: For a truly Asian flavor, you can mix honey, soy sauce, and garlic. Finish with sesame seeds for added texture and a hint of nuttiness.
- Sticky Dipping Sauce: If you want something more unique, combine minced garlic, minced ginger, red chili, dark brown sugar, dark soy sauce, and five-spice powder in a pan on medium heat. Stir until it is fragrant and sticky.
- Rice: Pork belly is popular among Asians, so the best way to enjoy it is with a cup of hot white rice. It will pair well with your choice of sauce.
- Salad: It is hard to go wrong with a bowl of salad, which is perfect for many entrees. Choose mild dressing such as vinaigrette.
- Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes will make pork belly more delicious. It is a classic side dish.
- Brussels Sprouts: Looking for something healthy to enjoy with pork belly? Go for air-fried Brussels sprouts.
- Sweet potato fries: A classic side dish with a twist. Use sweet potato instead of regular french fries as they have a higher nutrient score. If you want to air fry the pork belly and the sweet potato friest at the same time you might need a dual basket air fryer.
Learning how to air fry pork belly can make you feel like a pro in the kitchen! It is a simple dish that can impress your family and friends! Even without deep frying, you can achieve crispy skin while keeping the meat tender!