Kung Hei Fat Choi everybody! Today is Chinese New Year. This year is the year of the pig so it is an ideal time to do a BBQ pork recipe to celebrate!
Traveling around China and Vietnam I’ve eaten many pork related dishes. One of my favourites in Char Sui Bao which are a sweet steamed buns filled with char Sui pork. In Suzhou outside the “Humble Administrators” Garden we found some piggy shaped steamed buns (helpful when you don’t speak the language) alongside some apples grown in the shape of Buddha. We still don’t know if you were supposed to eat the Buddha apple or take it to a temple.
Ten years ago pork belly was considered a cast off in the UK, used only in bacon and sausages. Now you will see it on almost every pub menu. Going around the food markets of China and Vietnam you will soon come to realised that what we often discard can be considered the most delicious by others. You will often see sights and bits of animals that we in our sanitised western world would rarely see and the smell can be an assault to the senses but perhaps it’s one of those things as a meat eater we need to see to bring us back to the reality of what we are eating. However, if you are squeamish look away now……………….
You will be pleased to know though that for this recipe you will not have to go and slaughter your own pig. Pork belly can be bought from almost all supermarkets and is a cheap but delicious cut of meat. Slow cooked, the fat melts away leaving unctuous and flavourful meat. The BBQ marinade can also be used for spare ribs, chicken wings and I also use it as a glaze for baked hams. It’s not traditional to serve the crackling in China as far as I know but I have seen it in Vietnam and it adds extra texture.
Cooking time: 4 hours
- 1/4 tsp 5 spice
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1/4 tsp ground mace
- 1/4 tsp ground chilli
- 1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp kecap manis or 3/4 tbsp dark soy sauce and 1/4 tbsp dark down sugar
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1.2kg pork belly
- 450g Jasmin rice (wholegrain if you can get it)
- 720g mixed stir fry. I used Sainsbury’s tenderstem stirfry
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 6 spring onions
- Fresh coriander to garnish
Gently toast the dry ingredients for the marinade in a pan until the aromas start to release. Reserve a couple of teaspoons of the spice mix then add the remaining wet marinade ingredients to the rest and set both to one side.
If your pork belly still has the rind on, remove it with a sharp blade. Cut the pork belly meat in to 3cm cubes. Rub the dry spice mix in to the pork rind and sprinkle liberally with salt and place on a ceramic plate. Rub the liquid marinade in to the pork cubes and place in a covered dish. Refrigerate both for up to 24 hours.
4 hours before you want to eat, place the pork cubes and marinade into a slow cooker. Cover the pork loosley with some foil and cook on low. Check from time to time to stir the pork and ensure there is sufficient liquid. Add some water if it is going dry. If you don’t have a slow cooker then cook on the hob on its lowest setting for 2-2.5 hours instead.
If you have pork rind, 1 1/2 hours before serving heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Dab the rind with kitchen roll to get rid of any moisture. Sprinkle the rind with extra salt and roast for an hour to make crackling.
To best prepare the rice well and leave to soak for an hour. This helps to remove some of the starch and also traces of arsenic. You can however rinse just before cooking if you don’t have time to soak.
30 minutes prior to serving, drain the rice. Add the rice, a pinch of salt and 750 ml of water to a pan. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook on a very gentle simmer for 30 minutes (whole grain) or 15 minutes (white). Check from time to time to ensure that there is sufficient water. Turn off the heat and leave to absorb any remaining water.
Shred the spring onions and prepare the coriander garnish (finely chop or trim individual small leaves). Keep to one side as a garnish.
5-10 minutes before serving heat a wok to a high temperature. Add the oil and swirl around the wok. Add larger vegetables like broccoli first and stir-fry for a minute or two, moving the vegetables constantly to stop burning. Then add the smaller vegetables and stir-fry for another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil.
Meanwhile remove the pork rind from the oven and cut in to six pieces.
Serve the pork, pork crackling, rice and stir-fried vegetables immediately, garnished with spring onions and coriander.