Chego is a brick-and-mortar restaurant created by the same dude who founded Kogi. My first time at Chego‘s new location in Los Angeles’s Chinatown introduced me to the chubby pork belly bowl, of which I’m a huge fan.
Gochujang is a savory Korean fermented red pepper paste that you can buy on Amazon or at an Asian market. A 2.2-pound tub has lasted me a year.
TuroK’s Kogi- and Chego-inspired recipes:
Side note: I like music almost as much as food. If you do spotify, you can see what I’m jamming to while occupying the kitchen.
- 5 pounds pork belly, skin on, in one or two pieces
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1/4 cup gochujang (see note above)
For serving (optional, but recommended)
- 1 cup rice, cooked with water and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- Cilantro, chopped
- Pumped-up sweet chili sauce, optional
A day before you want to indulge on Chego-style pork belly, you’ll need to do some preparation. First, score the skin with 1-inch-apart criss cross cuts with a sharp knife, not cutting through to the meat. Rub the meat with the salt. You want to put at least half the salt on the skin. Refrigerate on a platter (or baking pan if you have refrigerator real estate) overnight, uncovered. Salting and then refrigerating will draw water out of the flesh, which will mix with the salt on the surface. The newly-formed brine will soak back into the meat, adding flavor and moisture. For a more detailed explanation, see my recipe for flat iron steak.
The day you cook, preheat the oven to its broil setting. Place the pork belly on a baking pan, skin side up. Broil for 20 minutes. This will crisp the top of the pork belly substantially. The skin will take on a deep brown color. If the skin appears only golden brown after those 20 minutes, return to the oven for 10 more broiling minutes.
After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for two more hours. Remove the pan and turn off the oven.
Allow the meat to cool for 10-15 minutes until handleable (odd word, right?). With your hands and a small knife if necessary, remove the super crispy skin, now known as crackling, which will easily detach from the soft flesh. You have two choices of how to use the crackling. Option one: eat the crackling on its own. It’s plenty delicious as a snack. Option two: mince a small portion of the crackling and sprinkle it over the rice bowl at the end. Eat the rest. Don’t use too much or the crunch will overwhelm the dish.
At this point, you’ve cooked the pork belly and detached the skin. Next step: refrigerate or freeze the meat until cold throughout, about 3o minutes in the freezer or 2 hours in the refrigerator. You’re eventually going to cut the pork belly into chunks; your task will be much easier if the meat is cold and fat solidified.
30 minutes before you want to eat, set the oven to broil, start some rice (and add a tablespoon of rice vinegar to the water for extra freshness), and cut the meat into about 1-inch x 1/2-inch x 1/2-inch pieces. Explanation: cut the pork belly into rectangular prism (intelligent term for 3-D rectangle), with two dimensions the same as the thickness of the pork belly. If this geometry talk is too much for you, look at the picture below.
Rub the pork belly pieces with gochujang. I used a basting brush to accomplish the rubbing. This step is much easier with chilled pork belly. Place the gochujang-rubbed pieces back on the baking pan, and into the broiling oven for 15 minutes.
Allow the pork to cool, and then serve on vinegar rice, topped with cilantro. Optionally, top with pumped-up sweet chili sauce.
Serves 6 average people, or 4 of me.