I am part Taiwanese and part Hakka. I grew up in a predominantly Hakka community in the city of Chungli in Taiwan. Until our move to the U.S., I was surrounded mainly by my Hakka-speaking relatives. It’s a shame that I can barely speak the dialect now. I can still understand some though. It’s definitely a language that makes me feel at home when I hear it. It brings back a lot of the comforts of childhood. Hakka food in Chungli is phenomenal. Even in the big city of Taipei in Taiwan, Hakka food is still subpar to that of Chungli. It’s definitely something you can barely find half-decent in the U.S.
I distinctly remember eating frequently at this stall in the basement of a large public market in Chungli with my family. It was not the fanciest place. In fact, I think by today’s standards, it might not even be sanitary. However, they served this amazing fried Hakka salted pork. It’s basically cured pork belly that’s been deep-fried, then sliced. You then eat it with plain rice porridge. I don’t typically like fatty pork, but I liked this stuff. It’s funny because this was a part of my early childhood and I still have strong memories of this. In fact, I still dream about this ice shop in Chungli that we used to frequent for taro ice pops. I dream about food. I am not ashamed to say I do.
So not being able to get any decent Hakka cuisine in the U.S. nor live anywhere near my Hakka mother, I’d have to make my own. Thankfully, my mother was here to visit last week. It was a fun and a blessed week. As always, she was busy in the kitchen even if it’s not hers. She loaded up my fridge with lots of dishes to savor for later. We made Hakka salted pork together. According to her, this came about in the old days because refrigeration for food was rare, so people had to cure their meats. She recalled her grandmother making this dish with lots of salt. You can fry, steam, or stir-fry this with vegetables or bean curd. This recipe is more of a modern day version of the traditional Hakka salted pork.
Hakka Salted Pork Belly
(adapted from Little Bear’s Kitchen)
2 strips of pork belly (about 1 pound each strip)
2 teaspoons salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon honey
1. In a marinating dish, salt the strips of pork belly so that all sides are covered evenly.
2. Combine all of the ingredients except for the pork belly and salt in a small bowl. Mix well.
3. Place the two strips of pork belly into a marinating dish. Pour the marinade over the pork belly and massage into the meat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours.
4. When finished marinating, remove from fridge. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Set pork belly strips on a wire rack in a baking dish. Bake for 60 minutes or when no longer pink inside. Flip the strips of pork belly to the other side halfway through baking time.
6. When finished baking, set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.