Apparently one of the most searched for dishes on Google, pork belly only became popular in the UK in the early Noughties. Nobody knew or cared earlier, apart from the Chinese (always wise). It was thought to be fatty and disgusting, and wasn’t even brought to the common denominator with bacon, though the twain don’t only meet - they ARE one.
It’s very peculiar that a pig seems to be an enigma to a lot of people, maybe only in the UK? I know some who think that bacon comes from a special breed of pigs (smoking pigs, I presume), entirely different to the porkers. I know, but what can you say? Perhaps it can be explained by a reference to cows, clearly much more familiar animals, being bred for milk or for meat. Or perhaps people are just ignorant.
Back to our pigs, or their bellies - crispy, garlicky and horribly overpriced, pork belly is now a gastropub staple except they rarely cook it well. It’s either tough or burnt to a crisp, having been slammed in the oven like a jacket potato. While, a bit like gammon, it should ideally be boiled first or - like I’ve done - steamed in the oven under a foil tent. Only the last hour or so the proper roasting should take place.
It’s very satisfying and should be cheap, but it also should be eaten fat and all - the fat on the belly is clean, white and tasty and those who meticulously cut out threads of lean from between fat layers are idiots. Do they cut out fat from streaky bacon rashers as well? I bet they do.