Thai-inspired pork jowl

preparation time: 30 minutes
marinating time (optional): 3 hours to overnight
cooking time: 40 minutes (5 minutes active)

This fragrant, oven-roasted pork goes well with rice, atop a bowl of noodles, or stuffed into sesame “siew baeng” flatbread pockets. Once the marinade and dipping sauce are made, there’s very little to do. A bonus is that leftovers keep well for a few days, and freeze well for several months. If you’re looking for a more authentic version of the dish, check out this video.

Try to find high quality heritage pork, as it really makes a difference here. One good source for Kurobuta (Berkshire) in Toronto is FãMu, but you have to keep an eye on their website because jowls are not always available. The recipe below makes a full tray, which should be enough for 6 people, but can be scaled down.

pork jowls – 1.5 kg or so

oyster sauce – 6 Tbsp
soy sauce – 6 Tbsp
fish sauce – 6 Tbsp
dark soy sauce – 1 Tbsp
vegetable oil – 3 Tbsp
palm sugar – 6 Tbsp (substitute brown sugar)
baking soda – 1.5 tsp
shallot – 1 to 2, minced
freshly ground pepper
freshly ground coriander seed
chopped dill (substitute coriander)

Dipping sauce (optional):
fish sauce – 3 Tbsp
tonkatsu sauce – 1 Tbsp
pomegranate juice – 1 Tbsp
palm sugar – 1 Tbsp (subsitute brown sugar)
lime juice – 2 Tbsp, about one lime
shallot – 1/2, minced
chili flakes – pinch
chopped green onion, dill, Thai basil

Pat dry the pork jowls and poke vigorously all over on both sides with a fork. Mix together marinade ingredients. Put jowls and marinade in a large bowl or Ziploc bag. Leave for at least 3 hours, and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 160C / 320F.

Line a tray with foil and parchment paper. Lay the jowls on the tray in one layer, fat side up. (1) Roast for 25-30 minutes, (2) broil at 180C / 350F (“low” broil setting at Leacock) for 5 minutes, then (3) turn off broiler and continue at 180C / 350F for another 5 minutes. The fat layer should be sizzling and caramelized. While the jowls are in the oven, make the dipping sauce.

When done roasting, remove the pork from the oven, let rest a minute or two, slice and serve.

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