Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (2024)

Published: · Modified: by Romy · This post may contain affiliate links · 3 Comments

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A vegan spin on traditional pork belly that is just as flavorful and satisfying! This Vegan Pork Belly Recipe is made using firm tofu, which is marinated in a savory mixture of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and Chinese five-spice powder, then pan-fried until crispy and golden brown.

With its crispy texture, this recipe is perfect for serving over rice or noodles and can be used as a delicious addition to many vegan pork recipes on a special occasion!

Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (1)

In this blog post, we'll explore the world of plant-based pork belly together - from its ingredients and preparation to its versatility and serving suggestions, and we'll also cover some extra tips for using vegan pork belly in a variety of dishes.

Jump to:
  • 🥢 Equipment
  • 🔪 Instructions (Step-by-Step)
  • 🍽️ Serving
  • More Substitutes for Pork Belly
  • Related Recipes
  • 📖 Recipe Card

❤️ What's great about this Recipe

This recipe is:

  • A flavorful and satisfying vegan take on pork belly-style tofu
  • Easy to make with simple ingredients
  • Made with a savory marinade of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Chinese five-spice powder and black pepper
  • Crispy and golden
  • It is a good source of protein
  • A healthier alternative to traditional pork belly
  • A great addition for a variety of other dishes, such as Vegan Black Bean Ramen
  • Perfect for a meatless meal!

Traditional Pork belly is a staple of many cuisines all around the globe - from crispy Chinese cuisine to Mexican cuisine. It is especially popular due to its juicy texture and rich flavor and has therefore been a favorite addition to meals around the world for centuries. If you enjoy the flavor of pork belly, this vegan version is the perfect replacement for you!

One of the great things about this vegan pork belly recipe is that it can be used in a variety of dishes from different cultures. For example, in Vietnamese cuisine, pork belly is often used in dishes like thit kho trung, which is a stew traditionally made with pork belly and hard-boiled eggs. But with a few substitutions, you can easily create a vegan version!

Inspiration for this recipe

This recipe is partially inspired by Lypic's co-founder, chef and Mama Đút restaurant owner Thuy Pham, who has created the famous Lypid's pork belly. Her vegan pork belly recipe also uses tapioca, rice flour, and coconut milk to create the perfect replacement for the fat layer - similar to the fat layer I prepared for this recipe.

Thuy's creations are next level amazing, so make sure you follow her on Instagram, show some love and watch her stories for more mouth-watering vegan recipes!

🌱 Ingredients & Notes

Here's everything you need for this recipe:

Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (2)
  • Tofu - extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • Sandwich bread - to create a crispy skin on the vegan pork belly pieces. For best results, use an end piece from a loaf of bread that has a similar size as your tofu block.
  • Soy sauce - I use dark soy sauce for a savory flavour in the marinade and a little tamari to create caramelized edges at the end.
  • Hoisin sauce - homemade or store-bought, for sweetness and umami
  • Chinese five spice powder - to add a complex flavor profile to the tofu
  • Cornstarch - to help create a crunchy texture
  • Oil - sesame oil for frying
  • Vegan fat layer - for the vegan fat layer I use rice flour, tapioca starch, full-fat coconut milk, water and salt.
  • Garnish - thinly sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds

See the recipe card below for detailed quantities.

Possible Substitutions

Here are a few possible ingredient substitutions:

  • Soy sauce - replace with tamari or liquid aminos
  • Hoisin sauce - I wouldn't recommend skipping the hoisin sauce, but if you don't have any to hand, use vegan oyster sauce or plum sauce instead.
  • Chinese Five Spice - create your own blend by combining ground cinnamon, closed, fennel seeds, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns.
  • Cornstarch - try using arrowroot powder or potato starch
  • Oil - swap the sesame oil for peanut oil, vegetable oil or a neutral alternative with a high smoke point

🥢 Equipment

Here's everything you need for this recipe:

  • 1 large non-stick pan
  • 1 small mixing bowl
  • 1 whisk
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • 1 spatula

🔪 Instructions (Step-by-Step)

Follow this simple process to make Vegan Pork Belly at home!

Step 1: Marinate tofu

Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (3)

Mix the marinade & marinate the tofu for 2 hours.

Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (4)

Set the remaining marinade aside and slice the tofu block.

Step 2: Fat layer

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For the fat layer, combine tapioca starch, rice flour and salt.

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Mix in coconut milk and water over low heat.

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Stir as the mix thickens.

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Cook until you get a thick paste.

Step 3: Layer & steam

Step 4: Slice

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Cut into bite-size chunks.

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Coat chunks in cornstarch.

Step 5: Fry

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Place in hot oil.

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Fry until crispy.

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Toss with remaining marinade, then add tamari.

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Remove from the heat when edges are caramelized.

Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (17)

🍽️ Serving

Add this pork belly tofu to a variety of dishes, such as:

  • Vegan Black Bean Miso Ramen
  • Vegan Peanut Noodles
  • Vegan tacos
  • Roasted Miso Aubergine
  • A simple vegan stir fry
  • Vegan Bao Buns
  • Vegan pork belly Lettuce Wraps
  • This vegan version of Chinese Sweet & Sour Pork by FoodieTakesFlight
  • This Vegan Banh Mi by VeganPunks

This vegan pork belly-style tofu can also be served over rice or noodles for a complete meal - and you can add some sides such as steamed bok choy or broccoli, or a simple salad with a tangy dressing to balance out the richness of the tofu.

❄️ Storing & Reheating Leftovers

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

To reheat, place the tofu in a hot pan and cook until heated through and crispy. You can also reheat in the oven or microwave, but the texture may not be as crispy.

Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (18)

💡 Expert Tips & Tricks

How to Press Tofu

Pressing tofu is an important step in many tofu recipes, as it removes excess water from the tofu and allows it to absorb marinades and seasonings more effectively. Here's a quick and easy way to press tofu:

  1. Remove the tofu from its packaging and drain any excess liquid.
  2. Wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel or several layers of paper towels.
  3. Place the wrapped tofu on a flat surface, such as a cutting board or plate.
  4. Place a heavy object on top of the tofu, such as a cast iron skillet or a stack of books.
  5. Let the tofu press for at least 15-20 minutes, or up to an hour for firmer tofu.
  6. Unwrap the tofu and use it in your recipe as desired.

And that's it! Pressing tofu is a simple and easy way to improve the texture and flavor of your tofu dishes.

How to create a meaty texture with tofu

Freezing and thawing tofu can make it more flavorful and absorbent. It's perfect if you're looking for a meaty texture, like in this vegan pork belly-style tofu recipe. Just freeze the tofu, let it thaw, and press out any excess water before marinating. For even more flavor, try freezing and thawing it twice!

Extra tip:

If want to take your vegan pork belly to the next level try this recommendation by chef Bernardita Gotis: Use a curing process similar to that of traditional pork fatback! Simply mix together salt, garlic cloves, and warm water, and then rub the mixture onto the tofu. Let it cure for a few days at room temperature, and then use the cured tofu for vegan pork belly.

More Substitutes for Pork Belly

One of the benefits of this recipe is that it is rather easy to prepare - but if you're up for challenge you can createa pork belly substitute with an even meatier bite.

There are plenty of plant-based ingredients out there that can help you achieve the smoky flavor and meaty texture of traditional pork dishes. With so many plant-based products available, there's a good substitute out there for just about any dish you can think of! But off course, personal preference plays a big role in choosing the best substitutes for you, so feel free to experiment.

A few ideas to try:

  • wheat gluten, or seitan - a popular choice for its chewy texture and high protein content!
  • yuba, or tofu skin - slice it into small pieces, marinate and use it in a variety of dishes that use pork traditionally.
  • King oyster mushrooms - another great option! They can be sliced and slow-cooked to mimic the texture of pork belly.

Extra tip: For a vegan version of char siu, try using TVP slices marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar! And for vegan pork sandwiches, you can create the best alternative using either seitan or TVP slices.

Whether you're looking for a healthier alternative to pork, or just want to try something new, the possibilities are endless! And with the help of recipes like this one, you can recreate your favorite pork dishes without sacrificing taste or texture.

  • Sticky BBQ Tofu
  • Vegan Black Bean Ramen
  • Vegan Roast Turkey
  • Vegan Peanut Noodles

📌 If you love Pinterest you can pin any of the images to your boards!

📖 Recipe Card

Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (23)

Vegan Pork Belly-Style Tofu

Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (24)Romy

This vegan take on pork belly-style tofu is a flavorful and satisfying dish that's perfect for a meatless meal. The tofu is marinated and layered with a vegan fat layer and bread, then steamed, sliced and pan-fried until crispy and golden brown!

4.50 from 2 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 40 minutes mins

Marinating time 2 hours hrs

Total Time 2 hours hrs 55 minutes mins

Course Main Course, Side Dish

Cuisine Chinese

Servings 4 servings


  • 1 large non-stick pan

  • 1 small mixing bowl

  • 1 whisk

  • 1 cutting board

  • 1 Knife

  • Measuring spoons

  • 1 spatula


  • 1 14-oz block extra firm tofu (400g) drained and pressed
  • 1 slice sandwich bread use the end piece!
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil for frying
  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

For the marinade:

  • ¼ cup dark soy sauce (60 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

For the 'fat layer':

  • ½ cup rice flour (75g)
  • ½ cup tapioca starch (80g)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (240 ml)
  • cups water (160 ml)
  • 1 pinch salt

For garnish (optional):

  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions spring onions
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


  • First, make the marinade by mixing together the dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Chinese five-spice powder, and black pepper in a bowl.

  • Next, place the tofu block in a container that is of the same size. Pour the marinade over the tofu block and marinate it for 2 hours. After 2 hours, remove the block and store the remaining marinade for later. Slice the tofu block into 2 large slices.

  • To create the fat layer, combine rice flour, tapioca starch, coconut milk, water and salt in a pan on low heat. Stir the mixture constantly until it becomes a thick white paste, then remove from the heat.

  • Spread half of the fat on top of one tofu slice. Then, top with the second tofu slice and evenly spread the rest of the fat on top.

  • Use a rolling pin to flatten the slice of bread, and place it on top of the tofu/fat block. Cut the bread to size if needed.

  • Firmly wrap the tofu first in a clean muslin, then aluminum foil and steam it for 25-30 minutes. Let it cool down entirely, unwrap and then slice and cut the block into bite-size pork belly pieces.

  • Coat the tofu in cornstarch and pan-fry it in hot oil until the edges get crispy.

  • Once crispy, drizzle in the tamari and stir to coat. Then, remove from the heat after 1 minute. Instantly pour the remaining marinade over the tofu and stir to evenly coat.

  • Serve the vegan pork belly-style tofu right away and enjoy!

Keyword pork belly tofu, tofu, tofu recipe, vegan pork belly recipe

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Reader Interactions


    💭 Leave a Comment

  1. James H.

    Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (29)
    Absolutely amazed by this!


  2. Kati Chateaux

    Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (30)
    The result is really delicious. However as a beginner I didn’t find this easy at all. It took me a lot longer than the 40 min cook time. Luckily the steps to follow are really clear. Maybe you can add some instructions on how to steam and what you could you use instead of a muslin cloth as well? Will definitely make this again.


    • romylondonuk

      Thanks so much for the helpful comments, Kati! I'll make a note to update the blog post with more details soon 🙂 But I agree, it's probably not the easiest recipe for beginners. I hope the step-by-step instructions were helpful though - and happy to hear you enjoyed the results! I often make 2 blocks as a batch and then freeze a lot of it in small portions after I've steamed, sliced and lightly panfried them. That way I always have some on hand when I fancy some and don't have to make it from scratch every time 🙂


Vegan Pork Belly Recipe - Romy London | Vegan Comfort Food (2024)
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