The Salty Solution For Perfect Air Fried Pork Belly

When you visit any Chinatown or International District in America, you'll likely see Chinese roast pork with extra crispy pork belly skin hanging in restaurant windows, showcased for everyone to admire. You're drooling, but the fact is, you can easily recreate this pork belly with the crispiest skin at home. And you can achieve all that with an air fryer and a little trick.

This trick is a salty one. To draw moisture from pork belly skin, resulting in crispiness post-cooking in an air fryer, we put a layer of salt over the pork belly skin or a salt crust. As we know, air fryers are mini convection ovens; a fan circulates hot air through the machine. This can lead to salt flying off the pork belly skin. Internet sensation Chef Chris Joe, who runs the immensely popular social media channel @cj.eats_, developed a trick to keep the salt from flying off the pork belly skin after months of testing air fryer crispy pork belly recipes.

To keep the salt stuck to the pork belly skin while frying in the air fryer, Joe recommends adding an egg white to a cup of kosher salt. The egg white will bind the salt together, forming a salty paste that adheres nicely to the pork belly skin. 

Golden crackle and juicy seasoned meat are the signs of a perfectly air-fried pork belly

Chef Chris Joe also recommends brushing vinegar over the pork belly skin before adding the salt crust layer. Vinegar, like salt, removes moisture from the pork belly skin. Additionally, vinegar's acidity can help mask gamey odors and taste from the pork. After placing the salt crust securely on the pork belly, air fry for 30 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

After that, remove the salty layer and brush off excess salt from the pork belly skin; Joe recommends brushing the skin with some oil. Then, continue air frying the pork belly, this time at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, until the skin is crispy, crackling, bubbly, and golden. This will take about 30 to 45 minutes depending on your air fryer. 

The resulting perfect air-fried pork belly will have the coveted crispy skin and juicy, tender, and well-seasoned meat. To achieve that, Joe also advises liberally seasoning the meat with a paste made from kosher salt, white pepper, five-spice powder, sugar, and cooking wine, like Shaoxing wine. We would also recommend adding MSG to the seasoning mix. After all, MSG is the not-so-secret ingredient to upgrade food, and your resulting air-fried pork belly will be flavorful and full of umami.