My friend Tommy told me the other day that he’d got himself some pork belly with the intention of making some cowboy style pork and beans as described here in November, which was gratifying, but what else, he asked, can you do with pork belly? Simple answer? Lots. So I got myself some more pork belly too. Enough for a couple of meals, cooked in quite different ways.
First up was my version of a dish cooked up for a dinner party last year by my friend Chris, who is of - I believe - Malaysian descent, so I probably shouldn’t describe it as Chinese style, but I will anyway. Chinese, Malaysian, or whatever, it was thoroughly delicious.
I started by making my own five spice powder by pounding up a bit of cinnamon stick, a few cloves, a star anise and a pinch each of dried chilli flakes and fennel seeds with my pestle and mortar (or you can use a jar of ready made). I diced the pork belly into good big chunks, a couple of inches square, and rubbed the five spice into them. Then used my garlic crusher to make a paste out of a couple of cloves of garlic, a nub of peeled ginger and about an inch of fresh chilli, and rubbed that in to the meat too, along with a little sesame oil. Then I poured over about a tablespoon of soy sauce, and a couple of tablespoons of rice wine (those quantities are very approximate) and left it to marinate for an hour or so.
Meanwhile I peeled a big onion and cut it into thick wedges. When the meat had had enough time in the marinade I browned it in my small casserole, then threw in the onions and cooked till just starting to soften, then I poured over the remaining marinade (at this point you may want to add more soy sauce and rice wine, that’s a judgement call, but you’re aiming for a juicy pot roast, not a stew), brought it all to the simmer, covered the pan and put it in the oven, at around 150 for a couple of hours. Lower and longer would be even better. When it comes out the meat should be gelationous and softly caramelized, and most, but by no means all, the liquid reduced away to a sweet, sweet, sauce. I served it up with rice and a stir fry of mushrooms, red peppers and chicory.
While my Chinese style pork belly was marinating, I’d also prepared the marinade for the other half of my big slab of pork belly, following a recipe of Nigel Slater’s that had by happy chance appeared in the Observer Food Monthly that very weekend, which gave me an excuse to use some of the pomegranate molasses I have a bottle of at the back of my cupboard, and to buy a whole fresh pomegranate from the Turkish supermarket, which I always feel I should when they have them, but so seldom do. That then went into the fridge ready for dinner the next day.
|Pomegranate molasses roast pork belly, a la Nigel Slater, with pomegranate salad and roast potatoes: Good, but not THAT good...|