Pork belly with almond bisque and fresh shaved raw green almond
Green almonds (immature nuts available only in late spring) have a distinct taste described as grassy and fruity, with a slight almond flavor. LA chef Sergio Perera grew up eating them in his home country of Spain and still enjoys using them.
Chef Sergio Perera
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5 lb. pork belly
1 gallon purified water (approximately)
1 lb. salt
5 star anise pods
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
3 dried bay leaves
2 tbsp. coriander seeds
1/4 cup amaretto
1/2 cup blanched, raw almonds
3/4 cup plain almond milk
1/2 cup lobster demi-glace
1 cup cubed day-old bread
2 tsp. almond or red wine vinegar
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
2 raw green almonds, left whole
2 tsp. almond oil
Winegrape salt or fleur de sel, to taste
To make pork belly: To determine the exact amount of water needed for the brine, put pork in a deep pot and pour cold water over until fully covered. Measure that amount of water and heat with salt and spices (without pork). Once salt is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool completely to chill and infuse brine. Put pork back in pot with measured brine and keep refrigerated for 24 hours.
Next day, remove pork from brine and dry with paper towels. Put in a deep pan and add 1 cup water. Cover completely with aluminum foil and bake at 280 degrees for 6 to 8 hours or until soft. Let chill completely overnight in the refrigerator. Next day, skim out fat and pull out pork. Set aside.
To make bisque: In a medium pot, cook amaretto on high to burn off alcohol and reduce to half. Add blanched almonds, almond milk, demi-glace and bread and heat to just a boil. Blend together with an immersion blender stick until smooth. Strain and return to pot. Add vinegar, hot pepper sauce and salt to taste. Thinly slice raw green almonds with mandolin. Coat slices with almond oil and set aside.
To serve: Slice pork belly about 1 inch thick. Slow sear on a hot pan. Meanwhile, heat almond bisque. Once hot, froth with an immersion blender. Spoon some of the almond liquid and froth in a bowl. Place a warm piece of pork belly on top and finish with slices of raw green almond and a bit of winegrape salt.