As I’ve grown older(ahem, more mature) I’ve become an expert in topics that I would never have thought that in a million years I would become. For ex., spackling expert never came to mind when I was at my first real job interview and the interviewer(a doctor) asked me what goals I had for the future. It’s a “dream squashing” question because in reality, your goal fresh out of college is to make some dough, any dough, to put a minuscule dent into your college loans. I answered with some scripted thing I rehearsed at home, and got the job. I didn’t learn any spackling techniques working for the doctor, but somehow, in my forties, I can expertly patch any drywall hole that child, husband, friend of child, and brother-in-law has created in my house or someone else’s house for that matter.
I’m almost as good at spackling as I am at interpreting my kids’ idiosyncrasies. A single squinting of the eye, twitching of a finger or slight tonal change in the voice, from a B sharp to a B flat, and I can predict a meltdown brewing. In my twenties my radar was attuned to more important matters like spotting a real deal at a sample sale and quietly celebrating when it had been completely overlooked by everyone. I swore that when I became a mom, I would never dress in sweats or let my natural nails show.
When I was at Lunardi’s, my local grocery store, another expertise of mine came to light. My way younger self would have scoffed at the idea that my future self would become so comfortable with this topic. But I felt like a rock star, for a moment, as I talked with the butcher about different cuts of pork. He looked at me with admiration, as I asked for pork belly, which wasn’t on display. Normally, I buy pork belly at the Asian markets, but I thought I try out our local butcher. He explained to me that they kept pork belly in the back to make bacon, but that I was the first customer to ask for it. By this time, a small audience of moms and lost fathers gathered around me, as I went into teacher mode, describing the different cuts of pork, and what I was planning on doing with pork belly. I stopped myself short before asking for pig feet from the butcher. Even I know, there are limitations.
Immediately throw out the brine the pork belly was cooked in or you’ll end up with a gigantic congealed mess. Dry and once cooled, keep in fridge for at least a day. Besides being easier to slice when cold, doing it in advance makes taco making a quick meal.
When you’re ready to make tacos, take out the pork belly, slice into small pieces and crisp them up in a pan. Place on a grilled corn or wheat tortilla and top with pickled radishes, queso fresco, cilantro, and hot sauce. Or anything else you fancy.
- 2.5 lb pork belly
- 1/2 c miso
- 1/4 c sherry
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1 in knob of ginger
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbs whole black pepper corns
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 6-8 corn or wheat small tacos
- Toppings: queso fresco, cilantro, pickled radishes, scallions, hot sauce(kochujang sauce or sriracha)
- Place pork belly in a pot that is just big enough to accommodate the pork.
- Pour water into pot so that the pork is submerged halfway.
- Add ingredients 2-7 into the pot. Add more water so that the liquid level comes just to the top of pork.
- Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer. With a spoon, break up the miso so it can fully dissolve.
- Simmer for 2 hours.
- Take pork belly out of liquid, (Throw out the braising liquid.) Dry on a paper towel. Cool and refrigerate.
- Pork needs to be in the fridge for at least two hours. (All this can me made ahead up to this point.)
- When ready to make tacos, take out pork and slice into small pieces.
- Saute in a dry pan for 2 minutes on medium heat. Be careful as the pork may pop on you.
- Grill 6-8 tortillas. Place pork on top of tortillas. Toppings are optional but the ones used here are queso fresco, cilantro, scallions, sliced red chili peppers, pickled radishes, and kochujang sauce.