New Orleans Food and Wine Part II of III: The salty sweetness of it all

Who doesn’t love a solid crowd pleaser–a way to make mouths happy and wanting more? This dish from the New Orleans Food and Wine Experience was one of my favorites at the Grand Tasting. The pairing of crispy, tender and salty pork belly with watermelon makes for a luscious bite and reminds me of when I was younger (and still ignorant of the beauty of salt in all its forms). Summer days when my grandmother reached for plain table salt to sprinkle on her watermelon slice, I was intrigued yet found this act both cruel and unusual. Salt on melon, I thought. Little did I know that my grandmother knew how salt heightens the sweetness of it all. I think she would have approved of this recipe for Crispy Pork Belly with Watermelon by Chef Gregg Zeringue of the Green Bar at the Westin Canal Place. Photo courtesy of Romney Caruso.

Crispy Pork Belly and Watermelon

Yield: 8  |  Total time: 13 hours 15 min
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This recipe takes very little prep time but does call for slow and low cooking. Your patience will be rewarded with tender, juicy belly that's delicious with watermelon, or slipped into a steamed bun with a slice of pickled cucumber à la Momofuku.



  • 2 ounces soy sauce
  • 2 ounces sesame oil
  • 1 ounce hoisin sauce
  • 1 ounce Sprite
  • 1/2 ounce fish sauce
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro


  • 12 ounces pork belly
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 8 ounces fresh watermelon, cut into 1-ounce cubes
  • Garnishes: fresh cilantro, julienne of carrot and Daikon radish


  1. Combine ingredients for Soy-Hoisin Dressing and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 200°. Place pork belly in a deep baking dish. Combine water, onions, carrots, star anise and garlic in a bowl; pour over pork belly. Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Braise for 13 hours.
  3. Remove pork belly from pan, discarding vegetables and spices. Press the belly between two sheet pans and chill for four hours or until firm.
  4. Heat canola oil to about 325°. Cut pork belly into 1-ounce cubes and deep fry until crispy and golden.
  5. Toss pork belly cubes in Soy-Hoisin Dressing and serve with chilled watermelon cubes.

Date Published: June 6, 2012

All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

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First of all, I love, love Sriracha sauce on everything from fried egg sandwiches to noodle soups, stirred into cabbage slaws and squirted on plain roast chicken. And Maldon flakes for melon and anything else you need to sprinkle salt on, including foods fresh out of the fryer, chocolate chip cookies... :

6 comments... read them below or add one


  1. June 13, 2012 5:53 am by Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef Reply

    That dish looks beautiful. I love the pairing with watermelon. I’ve never done that and I’ve seen it a couple of times this week. Definitely trying this.

    • June 13, 2012 10:01 am by Kim Reply

      Please let me know how you like it. I first had a pork/watermelon dessert at Fatty Crab in NYC. I think think there was pickled watermelon rind as well as the watermelon chunks and pork belly. So good!

  2. June 18, 2012 1:38 pm by Seung Hee Reply

    I pickle watermelon rinds too! (I tried and tried to pickle watermelon flesh…but all went into my mouth and never made it to the pickling jar…)

    • June 18, 2012 2:02 pm by Kim Reply

      I can see you smuggling bits of sweet, fresh watermelon into your mouth. What do you serve your watermelon rind with?

  3. June 27, 2012 1:18 pm by Sam Reply

    I am trying this one for a 4th of July party. Cutting smaller slices of pork belly and watermelon – then toothpicking for appetizers. Fingers crossed.

    • June 27, 2012 2:38 pm by Kim Reply

      That’s great. Let me know how it turns out, although I don’t see how you could possibly go wrong with two simple and beautiful ingredients like pork belly and watermelon! Happy 4th.

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