The belly is the best cut of pork. People love it because of its tasty and tender flavor. However, the thing is, pork belly is quite expensive and not easy to find in some local grocery stores like ribs, roast, or butt.
So, what would you do if there is no pork belly available in your kitchen and even in the market?
Let us give you a big help! In this article, we would like to recommend a list of pork belly substitutes for both meat and vegan options that can help you out!
Recommended Pork Belly Substitute – Meat Option
What is pork belly meat? What does pork belly taste like?
Pork belly is a boneless and fatty part that comes from the pig. It’s full of meaty and hearty flavor that can please any appetite.
Finding pork belly alternatives is not hard as long as you understand the pork’s flavor. As the guide down here, we will walk you through the list of some other options that can make a great choice when you need it.
1. Pork Bacon
The first pork belly substitution that we can think of is pork bacon. In terms of texture and flavor, it tastes the closest to what you’re looking for by far.
Pork bacon will be very suitable in some recipes, especially at a BBQ party when you have a barbecue with honey BBQ sauce.
It’s probably one of the more popular easy-to-find and replaceable products in some cases, but it won’t work for everything. You have to find the right thickness and cut for the dish to make it taste like pork belly.
Bacon pork belly has a soft, smooth texture and a similar fat structure to pork belly. At the same time, pork bacon has a light sweetness that can accentuate the taste of the belly part and can be prepared in various ways to create a delicious dish.
Note that, the higher salt content is the difference between pork belly and bacon, so you should adjust the amount of seasoning when cooking to make the dish taste the best.
2. Pork Fatback
If you compare pork belly vs fatback, they have many similarities and can be ideal substitutions. Fatback is a combination of meat and fat, popular when making salt pork and other dishes. In style, texture, cut, and flavor, fatback is very similar to pork belly.
Therefore, you can prepare this pork cutlet like you would a pork belly using the same spices. The fatback will be extremely tasty if you cook it properly.
Keep in mind this meat tastes better when salted. Although the texture is similar to the belly, it has a higher fat percentage than meat, so you can grill lard to serve with vegetables. For a more delicious taste, you can add a little chili or a spicy sauce.
You will be surprised when most recipes turn out better with such spices since they combine well with the fat layer.
3. Beef Bacon
Pork has more fat than beef bacon, which explains the fact that beef bacon has a dry texture and less fat sweetness than pork products. In addition, with a higher melting point, you won’t get the crispiness as lard when cooking beef bacon.
To sum up, if we ignore the texture differences, beef bacon is still on the list of the most suitable pork belly replacements because it has a similar preparation and taste that you can hardly distinguish.
4. Pork Shoulder
Pork shoulder isn’t usually a top choice, but if you’re mixing it with sauces or making dishes like pulled pork, pork shoulder can be an interesting option.
Pork shoulder is delicious, easy to find and buy. It is a fairly common food in every family’s daily meal. The meat has a balance of fat and lean, creating a reasonable and effective blend of dishes.
When using pork shoulder in place of pork belly meat, you only need to add the same amount of meat and seasoning to create almost the same flavor. In this case, you will only notice a different texture of the meat, while the dish’s flavor will be almost the same.
5. Duck Meat
Duck meat is much fatty and sweeter than chicken, so it can substitute for pork belly. It’s worth noting that this option requires you to convert duck meat to pork belly.
Fortunately, there is already braised duck meat on the market. Then, all you need to do is make it like pork belly (but it would be better if you used more seasonings to get the most out of the flavor of pork).
6. Goose Meat
Goose meat is darker than regular meat. It has a lot of similarities to duck meat, so it’s still acceptable if you intend to use goose meat to substitute pork belly.
Goose meat is widespread in certain countries and can be used in various recipes. It is better to buy it from the butcher shop for the best meat quality.
When replacing pork belly, you should choose young goose meat, marinate the mixture, and season with oil about 60 minutes before cooking. That way will make the meat tender and juicy and take your dish to the next level!
7. Duck Bacon
The most delicious duck bacon comes from a full-fat duck breast fillet. Duck bacon is favored by home cookers and professional chefs. Even though it is quite lean, it has a very sweet and smooth taste.
This smoked, uncured bacon doesn’t contain preservatives, making it better for your health than from other animals’ bacon. Duck belly is extremely versatile; you can bake, sauté, dice, or cook whatever way you want.
Make sure you know how to render duck fat to have delicious, nutritious meals like dishes from pork belly.
8. Turkey Bacon
If you run out of choices, turkey bacon could be the last resort. It may not be as good as other options, because it’s not that popular.
Normally, people who cannot eat pork products because of religious matters or finding a fatter and healthier alternative to bacon will prefer turkey bacon.
It has less fat and calories, but it still retains high saturated fat and sodium, so you should consume it in moderation.
Pork Belly Substitute – Vegan Or Vegetarian Option
The interesting thing is that even as a vegetarian, there are pork belly replacement options for you to choose from! Let’s see what they are.
Much like any other kind of meat in these two categories, you can use soy as a vegan pork belly. Soy or soy flour substitute is pliable and versatile, and you can create just about anything you want with it.
Soybeans are flavorless, so this is your chance to create whatever flavor you want. While it may not be able to feel and taste like pork completely, it would probably be the most suitable alternative in this case.
Tofu is a soy product that we can use to replace pork belly in any meat-free recipe. It tastes bland at first, but that will be your advantage if you can take the quality and combine it with different spices and recipes to create a flavorful pork alternative.
Tempeh is recognized in the list of the healthiest foods in the world and is also a proper choice for meat.
This vegetarian substitute for pork belly has a rich texture and flavor, combined with a unique umami taste, creating a pleasant sensation.
In several soups and sauce recipes, beans have successfully substituted bacon. Beans come in various colors, flavors, and textures, and each one can provide your dish with a full spectrum of rich nutrients.
Keep testing with as many beans as you want, and maybe you’ll fall in love and want it to become a healthy eating habit.
Furthermore, the time to cook beans is much shorter than pork – only about an hour for both the preparation and cooking phases.
How To Choose A Pork Belly Substitute
When it comes to choosing a pork belly substitution, there is no exact answer. Different pork belly cut of meat may all perform well in your cooking, but it’s all a question of personal preference.
There’s also the issue of availability: you might notice that not every alternative we suggested is accessible in your region. Still, there are still other options for pork belly that even if you can’t pick an exact one, there is no reason not to continue the recipe you have planned.
In terms of vegan alternatives, you’ll need to be innovative and patient as tofu or soy are insipid in their natural state, so you’ll have to start fresh to duplicate the pork flavor you want.
Like many other things in the kitchen, finding the perfect pork belly substitutions is a pretty hard process, but it’s worth trying!
Pork belly is one of the most unique and flavorful pieces of meat you can get from pork. As it’s quite expensive and difficult to find, you have to find a replacement for it in some cases.In this article, we are glad to suggest a list of some nutritious, easy-to-find, and delicious products to become a pork belly substitute for non-vegetarians and vegetarians.
We hope you enjoy the article and see you next time.