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Garlic scape in the field

I didn’t know what it’s called in English until a couple of months ago Rose said: “Hey, I’ve got some garlic scapes in the field. Want to talk to the chefs?”

Garlic … what?!“

In Chinese, it’s literally called: “Garlic sprout”, and it is. It is the shoot that comes out of a garlic plant. When it’s not removed, the plant is going to flower and seed, which is not good for the garlic bulb beneath. Garlicky yet not sharp, it is considered a spring delicacy and scapes sautéed with Asian-style cured pork belly is a timeless classic in Chinese cuisine.

Cured pork belly sauteed with garlic scapes

As a long-time devoted fan of charcuterie, I have enough sodium nitrite that will last me 2 life times. My mom always says my body probably will not rot after I die.

A healthier alternative I can think of is fresh pork belly cooked sous vide, then broiled to get a blistering crust on the skin. Since, unlike Thomas Keller, I don’t have a thousand bucks to update my equipments, a poor-man’s sous vide is ‘confit’.

‘Confit’ is a method of cooking in fat under very low heat for a VERY long time. The most famous example is duck confit. The long cooking process results in extreme tenderness, and the fat sears in the flavor. I always save the duck/pork fat from roasting and freeze them with the hope I might ’confit’ something, someday.

What do you know. Garlic scape gives me a perfect excuse to spend 3 days playing with a dish.

Pork Belly Confit with sauteed scapes

A fresh pork belly with skin on is brined in a sugar and salt, aromatic brine for 48 hours (too long.) Then completely immersed in fat and baked in a 275F~300F oven for … 6 hours. Cooled completely, then cubed, then broiled under high heat to crisp up the skin.

It’s pretty yummy. Indeed very moist and tender and broiling gets a nice crust and caramelization. 48 hours of brining is too much. Next time 24 hours to tame the saltiness.

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