Dish Hack: Chego’s Chubby Pork Belly Bowl

Because Roy Choi doesn’t own gochujang-slathered pig fat on rice

Want to stay in, but eat like you’re out? Here, chef and writer Heather Platt shares recipes inspired by L.A.’s hottest restaurant dishes. We say “inspired by,” as these creations are Platt’s own and have been adapted for the home cook, using easy-to-access ingredients and techniques you can pull off in just about any kitchen—yes, even yours.

The Real Thing: Few dishes exemplify chef Roy Choi’s over-the-top, pan-ethnic cooking style like Chego’s Chubby Pork Belly Bowl. The flavor-packed pile includes gochujang-lacquered Kurobuta pork belly over rice that has been layered with sambal, salsa verde, pickled radishes, water spinach, Chinese broccoli, cilantro, and Thai basil. The whole heap is topped with a fried egg and sprinkled with cotija cheese and peanuts. It’s heat, sweetness, spice, freshness, fat, and crunch in a bowl. If you’ve had it, you crave it—simple as that.

The Hack: OK, yes, this dish is available to-go for about 10 bucks. And if you live close enough to Chego, they’ll even deliver. But if you don’t, driving all the way downtown to wait in line outside can be daunting. And besides, there’s something about a home-cooked meal. Pork belly might seem like a cut of meat reserved for restaurant chefs, but if there was ever a dish that should inspire you to start roasting it, it’s this one. The fatty strip is cheap, easy, and can feed a crowd. In this simplified version, the pork belly is first roasted, then pan-seared and caramelized in a cast-iron skillet. Don’t be intimidated by the four-hour time commitment. Most of that is spent hands-off while the pork is curing and roasting. I omitted the sambal and salsa verde, as both sauces are pretty labor-intensive sauces, and the pork belly combined with the tangy gochujang are all you really need.

chubby pork belly prep

Photography by Heather Platt

The Recipe: A Home Cooks Chubby Pork Belly Bowl
-Inspired by Roy Chois version at Chego
(Serves 4)
Total Time: 4 1/2 hours

2 pounds pork belly, skin removed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup gochujang (Korean red chili paste condiment available in Asian section of grocery stores, Whole Foods, or Korean markets)
1 cup pickled radishes (recipe below)
2 cups mixed greens (kale, spinach)
2 1/2 cups cooked sushi rice
2 cups steamed or sautéed young broccoli
1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
3/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
4 eggs
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

For pickled radishes:

1/2 cup hot water from the tap
1/4 cup natural rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
8 radishes, cut into 1/4 inch wedges

Whisk together all of the ingredients except the radishes until the sugar has dissolved. Add the radishes to the brine. Eat the pickles immediately or for up to one month.

To prepare pork belly:

Mix the salt and the sugar together and rub all over the pork belly. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours to cure.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pork belly, fat side up, on a wire rack over a roasting pan. Roast for 45 minutes until it is brown. Turn the heat down to 250 and roast for 1 1/2 more hours, until it is tender. Remove the pork from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. When the pork is cool enough to handle, move it to a cutting board and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place the cubes in a large mixing bowl, drizzle with 1/2 cup of gochujang, toss to coat and let the meat marinate while you preheat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Sear the pork in the hot skillet until caramelized, about 4 to 6 minutes total. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove pork belly from skillet and excess pork fat.

In a non-stick skillet, fry the eggs in butter over medium-high heat, sunny side up, and season with a pinch of salt.

Spoon the rice into serving bowls. Using tongs, nestle the broccoli and pork belly next to the rice and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of gochujang. Place a handful of greens and a spoonful of radishes next to the rice. Top with fried egg and cilantro and sprinkle with chopped peanuts followed by cotija. Thank Roy Choi for the idea and dig in.