On my Dad’s side of our family, when a person is sick or hurt, we don’t make chicken soup, we make pasta. (fair warning – this post does not actually include a pasta recipe) It doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Good, hearty red sauce and some kind of easy to eat short pasta is all that you need. We take it so far that we have our own word for this…”ronis” (like a shortened “macaroni”). These are so important to my childhood that they could almost be defined as my religion. Pasta with homemade, slow cooked tomato sauce made with tomatoes canned from my Mom’s giant garden each fall. Nothing in this world is more comforting to me.
That said, I have learned that one needs more than ronis to survive after a while…but don’t let my grandmother hear me say it! My dad was under the weather last week so I made a big batch of pasta to bring to him. I thought I would be smart and make a bunch for myself so I didn’t have to cook for a few days. A few days turned into a week of taking the never ending pasta containers out of the freezer. My plan backfired. Instead of bringing comfort and joy, my beloved ronis were becoming a chore to finish!
Yesterday, I needed a change. I needed crispy fresh vegetables. I needed sharp, acidic flavors that would jumpstart my palate back into action. I needed salad. With all that in mind, I turned to my trusty freezer full of Costco goodies and pulled out some pork belly. You may be thinking “What? Pork belly is about as far as you can get for all the things you were craving!” and you would be right…unless you make it a part of the perfect dish –
Lettuce Wrap Tacos
These are a wonderful combination of Mexican(ish) tacos, Korean(ish) pork belly, and American(ish) cabbage slaw. I piled leaves of lettuce high with pork belly, homemade (and homegrown!) pineapple salsa, cabbage dressed with lime juice and cumin, Kimchi cucumbers (my absolute favorite pickle of all time), and fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden. The beauty of this dish is that you can make it into whatever you want right at the table. Roomie #1 had her’s with some veggie meat crumbles and cheese. I had extra pork belly and pineapple. Roomie #2 came in right after the feast was finished and lamented missing out. (Don’t worry, there are leftovers in the fridge for him!) Throw whatever you want in these versatile wraps and get eating.
Be warned, they get messy! – Molly
Spicy Pork Belly
- ¾ lb pork belly
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 large dried chili pepper, chopped (or ½ tsp crushed red pepper)
- 1 tbsp lemon grass paste (1 stalk chopped)
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- zest and juice of 1 to 2 limes
- Bring all ingredients to room temperature
- Whisk together all marinade ingredients; pour over pork in a ziplock bag; press the air out of the bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes
- Preheat oven to 425*; roast pork belly in a cast iron pan for 20-30 minutes or until it reaches your desired level of crispiness
- Remove from heat and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes
- Serve in tacos, salads, or any other way you can think of!