A good way to consume an array of vegetables is to make pinakbet which in itself is delicious, but is even better with roasted pork belly with its crispy skin and tender, juicy meat. Roasting the pork takes patience but trust me, it is worth it.
- 2 pounds pork belly
- Coarse salt, for the salt crust
- 4 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 small onion (diced)
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- ½ pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 2 pounds kalabasa or kabocha squash (peeled or unpeeled; cut 1 ¼” chunks)
- ⅓ pound sitaw or long beans (cut into 2” pieces)
- 1 (about ½ pound) ampalaya or bitter gourd (slice 1” pieces)
- ½ pound eggplant (cut into 1” pieces)
- 2 tablespoons sautéed shrimp paste
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
- Ground pepper (to taste)
- Fried garlic (optional)
For the crispy pork belly:
- Dry the slab of pork completely well – the skin, most importantly. Leave uncovered in the fridge overnight, if you have the time.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet and a grill rack to go on top.
- Season the meat side with salt and pepper.
- Place the pork slab, skin side up, on the cooling rack. Keep the surface of the meat level to hold the salt crust and to ensure an even crackling of the skin. I used crumpled foil and placed it underneath the meat.
- Place a layer of coarse salt on top of the skin. This will form a crust and will be removed later. Salt draws out moisture that makes the skin crispy.
- Pour about ½ inch of water on the baking sheet.
- Roast it in the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Take it out of the oven and remove the salt crust.
- Bring the temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and roast for about 20-30 more minutes, until browned all around. Broil on low (watching carefully) for 5 minutes to finish off the crackling.
For the pinakbet:
- Get all your ingredients ready.
- In a wok or a large sauté pan, add a little oil and cook garlic and onions over medium-high heat.
- Add tomatoes in and cook long enough until they soften.
- Mix the shrimp paste in.
- Add the shrimp. Cook for a minute.
- Dissolve bouillon in a cup of water and add it in together with soy sauce. You may add more water later, if necessary.
- When it starts to boil, add kalabasa. Cook covered for 3 minutes.
- Add eggplant and okra. Cook covered for 5 minutes.
- Add amplaya. Cook covered for 3 minutes.
- Add sitaw. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- By this time, the vegetables are cooked. Taste the sauce and adjust, if necessary.
- Add the crispy pork belly in. Stir it up.
- Add some fried garlic, if preferred, and serve!