So, disclaimer here: if the idea of eating fatty meat turns you right off, this is not the post for you. If, however, you are a person who thinks that the fatty parts of pork belly carry amazing flavor and texture, then keep reading!

This is a lazy-person’s riff on a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. The crunchy fresh veggies definitely help to offset the richness of the fatty pork.

If pork belly is hard to find in your area, this would work just fine with pork tenderloin or chicken thighs. This would be fantastic with seitan or tofu too, come to think of it. You’d just have to adjust your cooking method/cooking time a bit.

The Goods:

sub rolls (you could use a baguette, I suppose, but I find those to be too hard, and I prefer softer rolls)

english cucumber, sliced

carrot, shredded

onion, sliced (I used a yellow onion but this would also be fantastic with red onion)

cilantro

mayo

sriracha

hoisin

orange juice

pork belly

salt and pepper

The Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place some parchment paper on a baking sheet and lightly oil or spray it. Place pork belly on the paper, fat/skin side up. Poke several holes all over the skin (try not to get all the way down to the meat, but if you do, that’s fine) with either a small knife or a fork or some bamboo skewers. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper.

Roast for an hour to an hour and a half, or until cooked all the way through and the fat has rendered out some and what’s left is delightfully wiggly and soft. Let cool just until you can handle it without burning yourself. If the skin is too crispy/too hard/anything that makes you believe it would not be good eating, go ahead and remove it and discard it. Slice the pork belly into reasonable pieces (you want it to actually fit INTO your sandwich, after all). Mix some hoisin and orange juice together (a little goes on a long way on BOTH of these) and toss your pork belly slices in it to coat.  Arrange in a single layer on a clean baking sheet (lined with parchment and/or sprayed) and return to the oven until the glaze just barely starts to caramelize, maybe 10-15 minutes

While your pork is roasting and/or cooling, slice your cucumber and onion and shred your carrots. If you’d like to add some quick flavor to your veggies, feel free to mix some white sugar and mirin (or other similar rice wine vinegar) into your cucumber and carrots.  I did not, mostly because I was out of mirin.  It was a sad day.

Assembly time! Cut open a sub roll, if they’re not already split. Spread mayo and sriracha on both cut sides. Put down a layer of cucumber slices, some shredded carrots, some onion slices, and some cilantro (I just threw a few whole stems into the sandwich, but if you’re not fond of stems, just pick the leaves). Gently place some pork belly slices on top of the “salad” layer, and if you’ve got any of that hoisin-orange sauce left, drizzle a little of that on top.

Magic, right? Yum.

Oh, and you will render out quite a bit of pork fat during the roasting process.  What to do with it? Well, I happen to love scrambling eggs and frying toast in bacon fat.  This will serve the same purpose, though you’ll have less of the smoky flavor and aroma notes.  But do feel free to save the fat that renders out.  It’s good stuff.