Known for its fresh, bittersweet, earthy flavors, green tea seems to be getting increasingly popular as a flavoring ingredient for many desserts ranging from ice cream to cake to chocolate. Growing up drinking lots of green tea while appreciating its antioxidant and anticarcinogenic health benefits, one of my favorite things to do now is to drink an icy cold glass of green tea after an hour and a half of hot bikram yoga. The notable grassy note of the green tea is just so incredibly refreshing. I also love cooking with the alluring flavors of the green tea. I find green tea’s tannin, vegetal, woodsy taste, lingering “honeydew-like” sweetness and mild nutty undertones make it a wonderful companion for rich meat cuts. With that thought, I am grilling flavor-packed pork belly marinated in green tea, white wine and ancho chili olive oil in my California kitchen today.
To start, mix 1/4 cup 7th taste ancho chili olive oil, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1 Tablespoon green tea powder (i.e. matcha), 1 teaspoon sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper in a bowl and marinate 2 lbs thinly sliced pork belly in this sauce for a couple of hours (or preferably overnight if you have time). Next, grill both sides of the pork belly until they turn light brown. Then, make a mustard dipping sauce by mixing 3 Tablespoons light soy sauce, 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons spicy mustard and 1 small crushed garlic clove. Serve the grilled pork belly with some grilled onion, fresh sliced radish and the mustard dipping sauce. This recipe serves about 4 servings.
The marriage of fatty, flavor-packed pork belly and buttery, fruity green tea marinade makes the meat not only tastier but also seductively complex. The blend of green tea, wine and ancho chili olive oil gives the pork belly a tender texture with notes of pine nuts, vanilla, cocoa, melon and green bell peppers. The astringency of the green tea also balances out the fattiness of the pork belly so well that the meat doesn’t taste heavy at all. Further, the spicy mustard dipping sauce makes the meat taste lighter, savory and intense. I am amazed at how inexpensive cuts of meat, like the pork belly, can taste so elegant and delicate when dressed up in the green tea marinade and the mustard dipping sauce. Just like we say “clothes are wings for women” in Korea, this special marinade and sauce are wings for the pork belly. Try this recipe at home and let me know what you think. If you do come up with other green tea flavored, delicious recipes, I’d love to try yours at my California kitchen. Happy cooking.