Pork belly may have stopped being fashionable on restaurant menus in 2002 but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t a superbly succulent cut of meat. With its moist flesh and a skin begging to be crisped, it is destined for the roasting tray. Biting into it is a unique textural experience with the crunchy skin yielding to sweet, succulent flesh. Fortunately I’m not a girl who is afraid of a bit of fat but I do recognise you have to treat it correctly. With a little bit of preparation a perfectly crisp finish is guaranteed. Pairing it with aromatic Asian spices ensures the perfect flavours to cut through the richness. Time for a revival? I think so.
Spicy Aromatic Roasted Pork Belly
500 g pork belly (skin on)
1⁄2 teaspoon sesame oil
small knob of ginger thickly sliced
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1 star anise
2 tsp chilli paste (chilli and oil) or 1 dried chilli
2 tsp Sichuan pepper
2 tsp salt
3 cups hot water
steamed rice and gai lan to serve
To ensure a crisp skin pour hot water over the pork belly, fat side up. Dry thoroughly with paper towels and set aside to dry completely.
In a mortar and pestle combine the garlic, star anise, Sichuan pepper, five-spice and chilli paste with the sesame oil.
Score the fat of the pork lightly and then rub the mixture all over the pork, particularly into the incisions you have made on the skin
Preheat the oven to 220C. Prepare a baking tray with rack by filling it 1/3 of the way up with warm water. Scatter the ginger over this. Place the pork skin side up on a rack suspended over the water.
Allow to roast for 30 minutes and then turn the oven down to 180C and allow to cook for another 20 minutes. Your pork should be sufficiently moist and succulent not to require a sauce although any sort of soy reduction would work well. Slice thickly and serve with rice and gai lan.