Everything about this dish is awesome. Fatty salty pork belly is a guaranteed hit, and it's complemented here by a sauce flavored with red bell pepper and gochujang, and a bitter seared endive for balance.
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Prepare the fermented red pepper sauce:
This sauce is one of my favorite components from the entire dinner. It's thick, smooth and glossy, a bit sweet and tangy, and gets a surprising amount of depth from a relatively small amount of gochujang, the ever-present fermented Korean condiment. This recipe is largely inspired by one from Corey Lee of Benu and can be prepared 1 day in advance and reserved in the refrigerator.
Makes about 2 cups.
1 red bell pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled
25g shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
250g beef stock
Preheat your oven to 425F. Wrap the bell pepper and garlic cloves in a foil packet, drizzle with a neutral oil and add a pinch of salt. Seal the foil packet and roast for 35 minutes.
Remove the foil packet from the oven and rest in the foil for 15 more minutes.
Peel the skin from the bell pepper, remove the bulk of the seeds, and transfer with the garlic cloves to a blender.
Add all the other ingredients except for the xanthan gum to the blender. It will seem like there's a lot of liquid for a thick sauce, but don't worry - we'll be reducing heavily, then thickening with xanthan. Blend extremely thoroughly until smooth, then strain into a pot on the stove.
Bring to a boil then simmer until reduced by half.
Strain, weigh, and measure 0.5% xanthan gum. Transfer back to the blender and shear in the xanthan. Strain and reserve in the refrigerator until needed.
For 4 servings.
1lb pork belly
Maldon or other flake salt
Fermented red pepper sauce
Sous vide setup
24 hours in advance, prepare the pork belly: season the pork with salt and vacuum pack. Cook at 154F for 24 hours.
To serve: warm the sauce in a pot on the stove. Prepare the endives: cut the endives in half and season the cut side with salt. Heat a bit of oil and butter in a pan on medium-high heat until very hot. Sear the endive, cut side down, until thoroughly browned.
Flip the endives, add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, and cover. Cook until endives have softened, about 8-10m.
While the endives are cooking, finish the pork: remove the pork from the bag onto a paper towel, discarding any juices. Cut the pork into serving portions, then sear on one side until brown and crispy (you can accelerate this with a blowtorch).
Spoon a circle of sauce onto a plate. Top with a piece of the seared pork belly and place an endive half next to the pork, cut side up. Top the pork with a pinch of Maldon and serve.