Dhungar Diaries, Entry No. 7
As much as we love and identify with Anthony Bourdain and Market Man, neither Ren nor I have ever been too big on pork. Not that we dislike it or anything. In fact, I adore Trellis-style pork sisig and smoked, honey-cured bacon. It’s just that we never understood the near Pavlovian response that many Filipinos exhibit at the mere mention of lechon (roast suckling pig). Flavorful as it may be, I guess we always just found it a little too unctuous and greasy when eaten on its own like that.
Pool the roast pork into a more nuanced, balanced dish like this dhungar-smoked, pork belly curry however, and it’s an entirely different story altogether. Unlike pure roast pork, which I appreciate at the beginning then get completely sick of after the second piece, I’m not getting just saltiness and greasiness with every bite. I get creaminess from the curry, brightness and refreshing acidity from the lime leaves, smokiness from the dhungar method, and a manly, eye-watering punch of heat from the chilies. In short, there’s much more going on, both in flavor and in texture, to offset the delicious, but terribly unctuous personality of the pork.
For people like Ren and I who wouldn’t normally perk up at the prospect of lechon, this is one pork dish that we would definitely salivate over.
Dhungar Diary Archives
Entry No. 1: Aristocrat-Inspired Baked (and Smoked!) Chicken with Java Rice and Java Sauce
Entry No. 2: Japanese Braised (and Smoked!) Pork Belly (Buta No Kakuni)
Entry No. 3: Dhungar Stovetop Smoking
Entry No. 4: Smoked Eggplant, Mushroom and Chickpea Curry with Fluffy Rice
Entry No. 5: Smoked Chinese-Style Roast Pork with Kimchi Fried Rice
Entry No. 6: Dhungar-Smoked Pork Belly Tacos with Green Mango Relish and Salted Duck Egg Dressing
Like sunshine in a bowl. 😀
- 1 1/2 pounds or 1/2 kilo pork belly, cut into large chunks
- 1 1/2 Tbsps vegetable oil
- 1 pack (about 50 g) red curry paste
- 1 400 ml can coconut milk
- Fish sauce, to taste
- Brown sugar, to taste
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 4 green chilies
- 1 1/2 cup squash, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 bunch string beans, washed and cut into 2-inch strips
- Coriander, to serve
- Japanese chilli pepper with ginger, to serve
- Fluffy steamed jasmine rice, to serve
- Prepare pork belly for dhungar smoking. Smoke for about 45 mins. After smoking, in large skillet, sear pork chunks in little oil on all sides until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels, then set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan, then gently add in curry paste. Stir-fry for a few minutes until fragrant and oils are released.
- Add in pork chunks and toss until all pieces are coated with curry paste. Pour in coconut milk and kaffir leaves, then stir gently.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook pork for around 40 mins or until tender.
- Add in squash and green chilies and cook for another 10 mins. Add in string beans, cover, turn off heat, and wait 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Adjust seasoning to taste with fish sauce (for saltiness) and brown sugar (for sweetness).
- Serve with fluffy jasmine rice and garnish with coriander and sprinkling of Japanese chili pepper with ginger.
DID YOU KNOW?
That a 100 gram serving of pork belly typically contains around 520 calories? It consists of 92% fat, 0% carbohydrates, and 8% protein.
JB and Renée are the Traveleaters behind Will Fly for Food, a travel blog for the gastronomically inclined. They enjoy experiencing food from different cultures so they’ve made it their mission to try every country’s national dish. Read more about them and their National Dish Quest here.