Making chicharrón didn’t really call to me, mostly because I didn’t want the kitchen to “smell piggy.” I’ve never had pork rinds before so I wasn’t sure if the end product would outweigh the fuss, but I did set out to make every recipe in the book and at least this recipe doesn’t have any raw pig heads in it.
Most of the recipes in the book don’t require special equipment, but this is the exception. You need a dehydrator to make pork rinds, something I don’t have. No one else I know has one either, so it wasn’t possible to borrow one. I could have gone this route and made a dehydrator, but it seemed a little excessive for the small amount of pig skin I had.
Instead of the dehydrator, I went with the low oven method. Pig skin was boiled for an hour, chilled, fat scrapped off, and put it in the oven at its lowest temperature, 170˚F, 20˚ higher than the 150˚ Chang recommends. According to the book, the low oven is not a reliable method, but I found it worked.
The next day I looked into the oven to find the pig skin “dry, crisp and shiny, like a piece of brown plastic.” I broke it up into pieces and deep-fried it in a small pot. I recommend using a thermometer when deep-frying, it helps keep the temperature consistent. The book tells you to keep the temperature between 390˚ and 400˚. I found that 350˚ was hot enough, but it really depends on what kind of oil you are using.
Like magic, the skin puffs up after a bit of gentle chopstick action. It amused me to no end to watch a flat, dried, piece of skin exploding into a giant pork rind!
You need to season the chicharrón while they’re still hot so that the spices stick to the rind. The seasoning, shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice powder) was found at Fujiya, a local Japanese grocery store. Without the seasoning the rinds are pretty tasteless, but the shichimi togarashi adds spiciness and kick.
The chicharrón were good, but because we didn’t have them at Ko, I didn’t have anything to compare them too. I liked the crunch and the flavour, but after eating two, I had to stop. Mike, on the other hand, thought they made an excellent beer snack. All in all, a successful first Ko recipe!