Chinese Pork Belly Confit

People have been living in the the Southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan quite literally since time immemorial. The oldest-known hominid fossil in China was found in Yunnan, that of a Homo erectus who lived almost 2 million years ago during the Early Pleistocene.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about ancient DNA. Humankind has spent the vast majority of its existence in a very primitive state, doing little else besides looking for food and I find that it’s not hard to be transported to prehistoric times by doing very simple activities, like tending a fire or cooking.

The videos of Dianxi Xioge take this a step further because the technology shown is no more modern than that of the Iron Age. Aside from the fact that the scene is being expertly captured on video, there’s no evidence of running water or electricity in this kitchen. The giant wok-stove is heated with a wood fire and the giant slab of pork belly is a decidedly Old School cut (my apologies to the vegans, vegetarians and non-pork eaters watching this).

It appeals to an extremely ancient aspect within us and there’s something very soothing about it. This particular video got a massive response, with over 10 million views in less than a month.

I actually got to try this pork belly confit when I was China back in 2011 and although I was squeamish about laying into a slab of blubber, I found it to be shockingly delicious. It’s first seared then marinated for three days in a dry rub of salt, Sichuan peppercorns, black cardamom powder and baiju liquor, then braised, then deep-fried and sealed in lard, where it can keep for months before being steamed and added to various dishes.

Dianxi Xiaoge, the young woman who makes these beautiful videos was born in a small village in Yunnan and she went to work in the big city of Chongqing but returned to care for her family, who we see here. She needed to find a way to make a living that would enable her to stay home. Through lots of hard work and perseverance, she’s now able to share her passion for Yunnan cuisine through her videos and an ecommerce site that sells Yunnan produce. Her YouTube videos all get millions of views and enthusiastic praise from fans all over South, East and West Asia, as well as South America.

Alexandra Bruce

Contributed by Alexandra Bruce

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Chinese Pork Belly Confit