This is the week for comfort food like this Bok Choy with Lechon Pork Belly. I gathered the bunches of Baby Bok Choy I got at the Asian market. I sliced the leafy vegetables coarsely, and gave them a quick stir fry in the wok, with the aromatics and a splash of oyster sauce.
Then I cooked in the Air Fryer a slab of pork belly to a crisp, very much like the lechon kawali which Filipinos love to serve for party fare or a celebration. As soon as the vegetables were slightly wilted, a sign that it was cooked, I added the bite-sized chunks of crunchy pork on top, just before serving. The savory aromas of the vegetables combined with the meat lured us to the table immediately.
Even as the world watches what is happening in Ukraine, in horror and disbelief, we pray for its citizens, and are mindful that we still need to eat. We seek solace in a simple, hearty meal like this one that cooks fast, set atop a mound of steamed rice. It is the perfect balm for a few moments of peace.
Bok Choy with Lechon Pork Belly
- 1 large wok or skillet (12 inches diameter)
- 1 medium-size stockpot (4 quarts)
For Lechon Pork Belly
- 500 grams slab of pork belly
- 3 to 4 cups water for cooking pork, enough to cover meat ; reserve 1 cup broth later for stir-fried vegetables
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
For the Vegetables:
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
- 1 whole medium-sized onion, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 cup broth (use broth from pork belly)
- 1 pound baby bok choy, hard bottoms removed; leaves sliced
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- steamed rice
To prepare and cook Lechon Pork Belly:
- In stock pot, place the whole slab of pork. Pour water over the meat, enough to cover.Season with salt, black pepper and garlic powder.Cover and cook the pork belly to soften, for about 25 minutes.When done, let the whole slab of pork dry in the refrigerator, for 30 minutes. It's important to take out the moisture for the pork to be crispy when air-fried.
- Take the pork out of the refrigerator, and place the slab on the basket of the Air Fryer. Close the drawer.Set the temperature at 400 F, and cook the pork for 7 minutes.Then, turn down the temperature to 375 F. Continue cooking in the Air Fryer for 7 minutes more.*At about this time, you might hear the pork "bursting". Do not be alarmed, it's the pork, not the machine.
- When pork is cooked, turn off the Air Fryer. Unplug before touching anything.Use a pair of long tongs to take out the pork. *Be careful not to touch with bare hands, the inside parts of the Air Fryer, which are extremely hot.
- Place the pork on a chopping board. Using a cleaver or large knife, chop the pork into bite-sized cubes, about 1 to 2 inches.Set aside.
To stir-fry Bok Choy:
- In a large wok, or skillet, over medium-high heat, pour the oil.When oil is hot enough, add the garlic and onions. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes till fragrant.Pour the oyster sauce, and the pork broth (from boiling the pork belly). Blend well.
- Add the bok choy. Toss to coat the vegetables with the sauce well. Season with ground black pepper. Cover and continue cooking for 5 to 6 minutes more till vegetables start to wilt and soften.
To assemble and serve:
- Place the bok choy on a serving bowl. Top with the chunks of lechon pork belly.Serve immediately while warm and the pork pieces are crisp.Serve with steamed rice.
- Bok Choy: When buying bok choy (the larger ones), or the baby bok choy, look for sturdy white stalks and firm, dark green leaves. When you get home, keep these refrigerated in a plastic resealable bag. They can stay fresh for 3 to 4 days refrigerated.The smaller ones, Baby Bok Choy are also known as Shanghai Bok Choy, Shanghai qing, Chinese pak choi green, mei qing choi. In some Asian markets here in America, they are labeled as pak choy or pok choi.The large Bok Choy are also known as nai baical, buk choy, or Chinese white cabbage. In the Philippines, these are similar to what is called as pechay, and are grown as backyard vegetables. They thrive and grown abundantly.Oyster sauce: This is a Chinese condiment made from oysters, water, and salt. It is a multipurpose seasoning for many Asian dishes. Filipinos love to use this sauce in stir-fried recipes. Oyster sauce is dark-brown colored, and has a rich, thick consistency. It is quite salty in flavor. I do not add salt anymore to the stir fry if I use oyster sauce.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided in the recipe links is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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