Pork belly is immensely popular in Chinese, Korean and Philippine cuisine.
In Chinese cuisine, pork belly (Chinese: 五花肉; pinyin: wǔhuāròu) is most often prepared by dicing and slowly braising with skin on, marination, or being cooked in its entirety. Pork belly is used to make red braised pork belly (红烧肉) and Dongpo pork (东坡肉) in China (sweet and sour pork is made with pork fillet).
In Korean cuisine, pork belly meat without the skin is known as samgyeop-sal (삼겹살), while pork belly meat with the skin on is known as ogyeop-sal (오겹살). The literal meaning of samgyeop-sal is "three-layered meat" as sam (삼; 三) means "three", gyeop (겹) means "layer", and sal (살) means "flesh", referring to what appears to be three layers that are visible in the meat. The word o (오; 五) in ogyeop-sal means "five", referring to the five-layered pork belly meat with the skin-on.
According to a 2006 survey by National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, 85% of South Korean adults stated that their favourite slice of pork is the pork belly. The survey also showed 70% of recipients eat the meat at least once a week. The high popularity of pork belly makes it one of the most expensive parts of pork. South Korea imports wholesale pork belly from Belgium, the Netherlands, and other countries for the purpose of price stabilization as imported pork is much cheaper than domestic. The South Korean government planned to import 70,000 tons of pork belly with no tariff in the second half year of 2011. Thus, importation of pork belly was expected to expand.
Pork belly is consumed both at restaurants and at home, grilled at Korean barbecue, or used as an ingredient for many Korean dishes, such as bossam (boiled pork wraps) and kimchi-jjigae (kimchi stew).
Samgyeop-sal-gui (삼겹살구이) or ogyeop-sal-gui (오겹살구이) refers to the gui (grilled dish) of pork belly. Slices of pork belly meat are usually grilled not marinated nor seasoned. It is often marinated with garlic, and accompanied by soju. Usually diners grill the meat themselves and eat directly from a grill. It is typically served with ssamjang (wrap sauce) and ssam (wrap) vegetables such as lettuce and perilla leaves to wrap it in.
In Filipino cuisine, pork belly (Tagalog: liyempo; Philippine Spanish: liempo) is marinated in a mixture of crushed garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper before being grilled. It is then served with soy sauce and vinegar (toyo’t suka) or vinegar with garlic (bawang at suka). This method of preparing pork is called inihaw in Filipino and sinugba in Cebuano. Being seasoned, deep-fried, and served by being chopped into pieces is called lechon kawali.
In British cuisine, pork belly is primarily cooked using two methods. For slow roast pork belly the meat is baked at a moderate temperature for up to three hours to tenderise it, coupled with periods of approximately twenty minutes at a high temperature at the beginning or end of the cooking period to harden off the rind or 'crackling'. This is often accompanied by a sweet chilli baste or sauce. For barbecued belly pork the meat is seasoned and slow cooked in a pan by indirect heat on a covered barbecue, on a bed of mixed vegetables to which apple cider is added. Heat is again varied to produce tender meat with hard crackling. Pork belly is also used in the UK to make "streaky" bacon.
The pork belly futures contract became an icon of futures and commodities trading. It is frequently used as a pars pro toto for commodities in general and appears in several depictions of the arena in popular entertainment (such as the 1974 movie For Pete's Sake and the 1991 cartoon "Ren and Stimpy"). Inaugurated on August 18, 1961 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), frozen pork belly futures were developed as a risk management device to meet the needs of meat packers who processed pork and had to contend with volatile hog prices, as well as price risks on processed products held in inventory. The futures contracts were useful in guiding inventories and establishing forward pricing. The unit of trading was 20 short tons (40,000 lb or 18,000 kg) of frozen, trimmed bellies. (Bellies typically weigh around 6 kg (13 lb).) Pork bellies can be kept in cold storage for an extended period of time, and generally it was the frozen bellies that were most actively traded. Spot prices varied depending on the amount of inventory in cold storage and the seasonal demand for bacon as well as the origin of the pork; in the past, the former drove the prices of the futures as well.
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