Realistic and satisfying vegan ‘pork belly’ using layers of fried tofu, coconut fat and a crispy crust. Perfect to use with flavorful sauces. This is the recipe to impress any vegan skeptics!
How did this Vegan Pork Belly recipe come about?
Pork belly is a very popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, it is used in many dishes like Char Siu, Red Braised Pork. Many people are skeptical about using plants to mimic dishes. Since I don’t want to miss out on my cultural foods so I have to learn to make a vegan version of Pork Belly.
This recipe has been adapted from the creations of many Vietnamese food content creators. I was mindblown by how creative and diverse Vietnamese cuisine is. It looks so realistic while being very satisfying with the coconut layer that just melts in your mouth.
Ingredients of this recipe
This recipe uses:
- TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) slices
- Tofu skin / baguette
- Tapioca starch
- Rice flour
- Coconut milk
Where can I find TVP slices?
You can find TVP slices at Asian supermarkets, health stores or online. I recommend you to choose chicken-like TVP slice, such as:
- Just like Chicken or Unflavored Strips (Amazon US link)
- Textured Vegetable Protein (UK link)
How to make Vegan Pork Belly?
Since pork belly has different layers of lean meat, pork fat, and skin, we are going to recreate each layer individually and then stack them on top of each other. This recipe uses TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) slices to recreate the lean meat layer; a combination of tapioca starch, rice flour, and coconut milk to make the ‘fat’ layer. And finally, tofu skin is used to make crispy pork skin.
Step 1: Make the ‘lean meat’ layer using TVP slices
First, soak TVP slices in boiling water for 20 minutes.
Drain and squeeze out excess water from the TVP slices.
Step 2: Make the fat layer
The fat layer is created to have a sticky texture by mixing tapioca starch and rice flour, fatty texture from the creamy coconut milk. The fat layer will be in the middle and helps the layers stick together.
Step 3: Make the crispy skin using a baguette or tofu skin
If using tofu skin: rehydrate a sheet of yuba (tofu skin).
If using baguette: Trust me on this! The baguette works well to replicate the pork skin because it is crispy with a natural golden color. Remove the inside and start layering!
Step 4: Stack each layer of lean meat, fat, and skin on top of each other
The next task is to put the vegan pork belly layers together:
- Bread (or tofu skin) in the bottom
- Coconut ‘fat’
- TVP slices
- Another layer of coconut ‘fat’
- Another layer of dipped TVP
The final result should look like the picture below:
Step 5: Steam and refrigerate to keep its form
To keep the layers stick together, we first steam it for 25 minutes, then leave it in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Step 6: Fry until crispy and add flavorful sauces.
After refrigerating, your ‘pork belly’ is ready to be used. Cut into slices and fry and they are ready to absorb any flavorful marinades. Check out this blog post to make vegan Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly!
Frequently Asked Questions:
You can use firm tofu in place of TVP slices. Pat dry the tofu, and cut into slices then fry until golden brown. Dip the tofu lightly in a mixture of cornstarch and water before sticking to the layers. Note that the texture using tofu won’t be as good and sticky as with TVP slices.
The result made with fried tofu:
TVP slices are textured vegetable protein, often used as meat substitutes. They have different sizes and variations, for this recipe I recommend buying a chicken-like variation. You can access them at Asian supermarkets, health stores, or on Amazon.
You can use a slice of baguette instead. Cut the baguette in half and use it in place of yuba (tofu skin).
You can add a Vietnamese sauce as instructed here, or coat with any Asian (cha siur) or BBQ sauce after frying!
How to serve these Vegan Pork Belly?
You can enjoy them using some sauces and enjoy them with rice, such as in my Vegan Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly recipe. In the future, I will share many more vegan pork belly dishes!
If you have tried my recipe, please let me know what you think by leaving me a review on this page or tagging me on Instagram @veggieanh. I would love to see your creations!Print
Vegan Pork Belly
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Diet: Vegan
Realistic and satisfying vegan ‘pork belly’ using layers of TVP slices, coconut fat and a crispy tofu skin crust. This is the recipe to impress any vegan skeptics!
Pork fat layer (Coconut Tapioca mixture)
- 100 g rice flour
- 120 g tapioca starch
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 300 ml water
Lean meat layer
- TVP slices: 8 TVP slices (could be more, depending on the size of the TVP)
- oil for frying
Pork skin layer (bread)
- 1 small baguette (or cut the baguette into a slice)
- OR 1 small sheet of yuba (tofu skin)
To make the ‘lean meat’ layer
- Dehydrate the TVP slices by pouring hot water on them and letting them sit for 20 minutes.
- Drain and rinse and squeeze out excess water out of the TVP slices.
To make the coconut ‘fat’ layer
- On a pan on low heat, combine the rice flour, tapioca starch, coconut milk and water.
- Keep mixing the mixture until it forms a thick white paste, that is very similar to pork fat. This takes about 5-10 minutes.
To make the pork skin layer
Method 1: Baguette
- If use a small baguette, split it in half lengthwise. If use a long baguette, cut into a section that can is the same length as your tofu slice.
- Take out some of the crumb (soft inner part) of the bread.
Method 2: Tofu skin
- Rehydrate the tofu skin sheet by pouring hot water on top until softened (about finished).
Make the Vegan Pork Belly
- To make the vegan pork belly, layer the 3 layers together: bread ‘skin’ in the bottom, followed by a thick layer of the coconut ‘fat’, ‘lean meat’ (tofu or TVP slcies), coconut ‘fat’ and ‘lean meat’ tofu. The coconut ‘fat’ in between each layer will help the layers stick together.
- Wrap the vegan pork belly tightly with aluminium foil and steam for 25-30 minutes.
- Afterwards, chill the vegan pork belly in the fridge for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).
- Cut into thin slices that resemble ‘pork belly’ slices and fry until golden crispy. Add any sauces you like and enjoy with a bowl of warm rice.
- Check out this blog post for making vegan Vietnamese braised pork belly.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Main Course
- Method: steaming, stovetop
- Cuisine: vietnamese
Keywords: plant-based hack, vegan pork belly, vietnamese
Im having a terribly hard time finding tapioca starch in my area (idk why, I know we used to have it) so I’m curious if you think corn starch would work as a substitute? I’d absolutely love to try the recipe I just can’t get my hands on that one ingredient!
Hi Lou, thank you for your question! I haven’t tried it yet, but according to an Internet search, you can use half the amount of corn starch compared to tapioca starch for this recipe. This is because corn starch is a stronger thickening agent.
Hope that helps!
If you can find tapioca flour that’s the same thing as tapioca starch, it’s what I used.
This recipe is amazing! Tried it the other day and it was a big hit my my meat eating family members too. The texture is fantastic, a mix of crispy and gooey, just like with really pork belly. All i did extra was to add salt when frying during the final stage. So good even just like that! We then tried it in a banh mi 😋 Looking forward to trying your other recipes 😃
Thank you so much for your review!