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[Home Cooking] Slow cooker pork belly (samgyeopsal)

This recipe is a slow cooker version of the boiled pork dish called bossam. Slow cooking belly renders more fat than boiling if you are concerned about the fat content of pork belly.

You can also use Boston butt (moksal in Korean) or picnic shoulder (apdarisal in Korean), which also works nicely. If you’re using a big roast cut, simply cut it into 5 to 7-centimeter thick strips so the seasoning can better penetrate the meat.

For the seasoning, I used a tablespoon of doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste) along with garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Doenjang is commonly used in Korean cooking to flavor pork.

After 3 hours, the meat was tender but firm enough for slicing, but adjust the cooking time depending on your slow cooker, how thick your meat is, and how tender you’d like it to be.

This recipe sears the slow cooked meat in a pan with a simple sauce. This adds a nice flavor and color. You can also double the sauce recipe and drizzle over the pork slices to serve.

Slow cooker pork belly (Korean Bapsang)
Slow cooker pork belly (Korean Bapsang)

2 to 3 whole fresh pork belly, samgyupsal (about 1.2 kilograms)
1 medium onions

Seasoning for the pork:
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste), or use 1 more teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce for glazing: (double this if you want to serve with a sauce)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine (or dry white wine)
4 tablespoons cooking liquid, strained through a strainer.
1 tablespoon sugar

For garnish:
3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced lengthwise
A handful of radish sprouts - optional

Combine all the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.

Cut the onion in half, and roughly slice each half, and place the slices at the bottom of the slow cooker in a single layer. Add 1/2 cup of water (or brewed coffee) to the slow cooker. Rub each pork belly with the seasoning mix. Place them on top of the onion. Cook on high for about 3 hours (5 hours on low) until the pork reaches the desired tenderness. Transfer to a plate.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Pour the sauce to a large pan, and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Using a pair of kitchen tongs, add the meat and sear until all sides are nicely glazed with the sauce and the meat is slightly caramelized, a minute or two on each side. Do not burn the sauce. (If doubling the sauce, use the same pan, after removing the meat, to boil the remaining sauce over medium heat until slightly thickened.)

Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Thinly slice crosswise.

Serve simply with the thinly sliced scallions, or mixed greens, or some lettuce, and ssamjang. Drizzle the sauce over the meat if using extra sauce.

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By Ro Hyo-sun