Bagnet Made Simple: A Guide to the Ilocano Crispy Pork Belly Joy Joy

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Dear sweet parents and caregivers! April here helping you relax into motherhood from my tropical island home.

Today we bring some island flavor and crunch to Bagnet – a crispy fried pork belly that’s a staple food in the Ilocos region and beloved across Filipino tables. Bagnet has risen to cult status thanks to its addictive textures – crispy yet fatty, soft yet chewy all at once. While often ordered at restaurants, homemade bagnet can be simplified for easy weeknight cooking that still satisfies.

But let me warn you ahead. It is simple, yes, but can be a little involved and needs a bit of planning ahead. But don’t let that stop you. The next time you’re looking for a satisfying Pinoy pork recipe, make my easy Bagnet with just a few pantry staples. 

To make it, you simmer whole slabs of pork belly in water and aromatics until tender, then deep fry the pieces until crispy. Traditionally,  Ilocanos boil them, let dry, then deep fry them, then hang them to dry again for at least a day. Then deep fry again. If you’ve been to Ilocos, you can see these rows and rows of pork heaven drying in the sun. I told you it’s very involved! But the result is irresistibly flavored pork with a very crispy exterior – perfect for dipping into a sawsawan of garlic and vinegar.

Myself, I don’t mind a little waiting for a perfect Bagnet so long as it’s planned. Make sure to allot at least 2 days for cooking the bestest crispy Bagnet. As you know, we’re all a bit busy, I have made this recipe with a bit of kitchen tech using a combination of air frying and deep oil frying. Using the air fryer allows you to leave the cooking on its own while you maybe say, browsing Facebook, Lol. There’s also less splatter!

To make basic bagnet, first place a kilo of a slab pork belly in a pot. Pour in enough water to cover, then stir in aromatics.

Bring the pan to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the pork is very tender, about 30 minutes to an hour. Check the pan occasionally and add more water to keep the pork covered.

Once the pork is tender, remove the pieces from the braising liquid and pat dry. Don’t let it boil too long that it’s fall-apart tender!!!

Score and let dry overnight in the refrigerator.

Set the air fryer to 450 °F for 30 minutes. Here’s my favorite air fryer / oven if you wanna cook without splatters all over your kitchen! 🛒

If you stop here and not double-fry it, you will have a juicy Lechong Kawali instead!  😂😂

Flour the bagnet lightly. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, pan fry the pork until the slabs are deeply browned and crispy on all sides, about 5-8 minutes total. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Serve the crispy bagnet right away with your choice of dipping sauces, The crunchy, slightly salty exterior brings crave-worthy layers of flavor and texture to an otherwise humble protein.

Heres the printable recipe!

Let me know how this classic Filipino comfort food turns out for your family. For more cozy yet economical main dish recipes, sign up for my emails at Happy cooking! (and yes, the title is really Joy Joy,for extra happiness!)

#relaxlangchef bagnetrecipe #porkbelly #filipinorecipe

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