The Venerable Pork Belly

I love cooked fresh pork belly, the exquisite combination of crispy skin, luscious fat and tender meat that chefs in the Yukon do so well. I’m thinking of Troy King’s “Bucket of Belly” at Night Market restaurant in Whitehorse: crispy bits of belly on a stack of deep-fried pork rinds, served in a tin bucket lined with brown paper. So good.

Chef Brian Ng has a new special hitting the Wayfarer Oyster House menu now: crispy pork belly, Manila clams, soft tofu, bacon dashi, peas, daikon and wild leek. Whaat!!! And Shelby Jordan and her team concocted a special of pork belly Pot au Feu, a couple of weeks ago: rolled Lastraw Ranch Pork Belly with fresh sage and garlic, slow cooked with Sun North Ventures carrots, Kokopellie Brussel sprouts and potatoes. Another reason to go to Dawson.

These are just some of the delicious things you can do with pork belly. But until recently I never tried cooking pork belly myself. There were a couple of obstacles: first, fresh pork belly has not been easy to find in the Yukon, except when cured, smoked and sold as bacon. Sometimes the smaller butcher shops had it in stock, if you were there at the right moment, but rarely did it appear in the supermarket cooler.

Second, I was intimidated. Online recipes seemed to complicate the issue, calling for hours of brining and slow cooking, followed by a day of chilling in the fridge before a final crisp up in a frying pan. What if I made a mistake, with my rarely available, carefully procured pork belly? The stakes were high. For years, I was content to let the restaurants cook for me.

But things have changed. There is a new meat producer near Whitehorse who has kept the shelves of Wykes’ Your Independent Grocer in Whitehorse stocked, with local, humanely raised and antibiotic- and steroid-free pork belly, for the last few months.

The Yukon Meat Company is owned by Cody Hurlburt and Bridget Kenny, second-generation Yukon farmers who supplied meat to Yukon Born and Raised Meat company until it closed a few months ago. “We decided to keep running the farm because we loved being farmers,” said Bridget recently, and they now supply several local restaurants and sell a range of products at Wykes’ and other retailers. About their pork, chef Brian Ng said simply, “It’s delicious.”

After a couple of pork-belly experiments, I consulted Ng and he kindly walked me through a basic recipe. I deviated a bit at the prep stage because I’m a cook and I can’t help changing a recipe, but I followed his cooking instructions exactly and—success! Crispy skin, luscious fat, and tender meat; the basic material with which to build a great pork-belly dish.

Brian Ng’s Method for Crispy Pork Belly

“A few tips ’n tricks if you want to get a good crackling on your pork belly.”—Brian Ng

1) Brine your belly! I like to do anywhere between a 5–10% salt solution depending on the size of the belly. No sugar in this brine because I am gonna toast the belly for a bit and don’t want it to take on too much colour from the get-go! Alternatively, you can do a dry brine of just salt. Preferably overnight. Take it out of the brine or pat it dry afterwards.
2) Take the skin/crackling even further by dousing the skin with a ton of distilled white vinegar, to dry the heck out of the skin overnight in the fridge. Uncovered.
3) If you want to take it even further, then you can take a cake tester or anything wire-y thin to poke a bunch of holes into the skin, to prevent it from puffing up too much, allowing for good fat rendering.
4) I generally like to start off with a hot oven and do a hard roast @425℉ for around 30 minutes. Drop it to around 325 and roast for another 90–120 minutes until tender. A little stock or water in the roasting tray helps, at this point, to help contribute a bit of humidity.

Ng said, “Those are only a few tricks. Tons of other ways out there to achieve crispy skin, but those are the ones I use the most often.”

My Method

I didn’t have time to brine, so I dried the pork belly in the fridge for a couple of hours, coated the whole thing in olive oil and doused with salt and pepper, then followed Ng’s cooking instructions exactly.

2.5 lb pork belly

2 tsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 cup chicken stock

Pork Belly
Yield: 4

The Venerable Pork Belly


  • 8 slices cooked pork belly
  • 4 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • (Miche's Version)
  • I didn’t have time to brine, so I dried the pork belly in the fridge for a couple of hours, coated the whole thing in olive oil and doused with salt and pepper, then followed Ng’s cooking instructions exactly.
  • 2.5 lb pork belly
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock


  1. Place pork-belly slices in a cold cast-iron frying pan. Set over medium heat. Once slices start to sizzle, cook for 2 minutes and flip. Cook second sides until crispy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Whisk hoisin, vinegar and sesame oil together.
  3. Once pork belly is crisp, pour off all but a tablespoon of fat. Pour sauce over top and turn slices of belly in the sauce, a few times, to coat.
  4. Remove from heat. Garnish with spring onion and sesame seeds and serve.

(Miche's Version)

  1. Preheat oven to 425℉. Coat belly in olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes, reduce temperature to 325℉, add one cup of chicken stock to the pan and cook until the internal temperature is 160℉, about 90 minutes. 
  2. Cool cooked belly on a rack, wrap well and refrigerate. Cut slices, as needed, for your recipe and use within 3 to 4 days.
Pork Belly
Pork Belly. Photo: Miche Genest

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Skip to Recipe
Scroll to Top