These Air Fryer Pork Belly Bites Are an Easy Gourmet Nosh

These Air Fryer Pork Belly Bites Are an Easy Gourmet Nosh

I often see pictures of crispy pork belly that show great slabs of meat topped with bubbly, crackling. It looks enticing, and intimidating: Preparing large cuts of meat for the first time can induce questioning and uncertainty, from “where can I buy pork belly that large?” to “If I mess up, I’ll waste all that meat.”

As we celebrate yet another Air Fryday, I’d like to invite you to make crispy pork belly in a lower-stakes manner that any first-timer can pull off. Treat your tastebuds to the indulgence of air fryer pork belly bites. 

The difference between pork belly and bacon

Pork belly is cut from the belly of the hog, and if it reminds you of bacon, there’s a good reason for that: Bacon is pork belly that’s been smoked, cured, and sliced into strips. A slab of pork belly is usually uncured and unsmoked, but you still get all of the same rich streaks of fat and meat that we all treasure in sliced bacon. 

Fatty pork does especially well under the convection conditions of the air fryer. The fan churns the hot air around the basket of the air fryer, and the fat from the pork begins to render and crisp under the extreme heat. Cutting the belly into 1-inch chunks creates more surface area for flavor and browning, speeds up the cooking time, and even makes eating it a bit more casual. Plus, you only need about an eight to 10-ounce hunk of pork belly to make two servings-worth of bites, and that’s much easier to find in local grocery stores than the more stately slabs. 

How to make air fryer pork belly bites

You could simply cut up the pork belly and drop it into the air fryer. There’s enough fat marbled through the meat that it can just take care of itself. But when a flavor opportunity presents itself, I like to take it. So here’s what you can do to make the most out of your belly meat.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

1. Slice the meat

If your pork belly has a tough skin (or rind) on the fatty edge, cut it off. Slice the pork into one-inch pieces across the layers, so each piece will include all of the streaks of meat and fat. If the slab was a wide one, you can then cut the pieces in half. Mine ended up one inch in width and length, and two inches high. 

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

2. Season the pork

Add the meat to a mixing bowl and season it. I used some fish sauce, pepper, and sugar, but you could experiment with other ingredients like Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce. For a crisp-assist, I added a teaspoon of cornstarch and oil. Mix everything together until the meat is coated. 

3. Air fry the bites

Set the air fryer to 375°F on the “air fry” setting, and cook the meat for 15 to 20 minutes, shaking the pieces around every 5 minutes or so. When the fat is bubbly and the edges are crisp, the pork belly is finished.

The fat develops a tender crust, and the light seasoning boasts incredible umami. You can stuff these crunchy morsels into a pita with pickled veggies, nestle them onto some noodle soup, or walk around with a bowl-full and casually throw ‘em back while you carry out your business. (My favorite way to eat pork belly bites is with a heap of steamed jasmine rice and a drizzle of soy sauce.)

These are best eaten the same day, but they’ll keep in the fridge for up to five days. To reheat, just throw them in the air fryer again for about three minutes. 

Air Fried Pork Belly Bites Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces pork belly
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 or 5 grinds of black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon neutral oil

1. If your meat has the tough skin remaining on the fatty edge, remove it. Slice the meat into pieces, about one inch in width and length, and two inches high. Make sure each piece has all of the streaky layers. 

2. Add the meat to a mixing bowl and add the fish sauce, sugar, pepper, cornstarch and oil. Thoroughly mix it until all of the pieces are coated in a light layer of the mixture.

3. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F on the “air fry” setting. Add the pork pieces to the basket and cook the meat for 15 – 20 minutes, shaking the pieces around every 5 minutes or so. The pork belly is finished when the fat is bubbly and the edges are crisp. Cool briefly before enjoying.


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