Guests always ask which of the evenings meals is my favourite and although it is a pretty tough call as I only put things on the menu that I really enjoy, I have to say the crispy pork belly with hoi-sin sauce, asian slaw and earl grey rice was the one that I always look forward to eating the most. We have had pork belly on the menu for a couple of seasons in various iterations but this version just works so well with the amazing flavours of 5-spice powder, sesame oil and salty tamari sauce, sharply contrasted by the fresh crunchiness of all the colourful vegetables in the asian slaw. It perfectly balances the richness of the pork and looks stunning on the plate. The earl grey tea adds lovely background flavour to the rice which helps tie it in to the hoisin sauce.
I don’t know many meat eaters who can resist really good pork crackling and so if you serve this to friends for dinner, you can be pretty confident that it will be a real crowd-pleaser. The best thing is that if you’ve got a food processor to minimize chopping time, it’s really quick to make, with minimal last minute faff so you won’t be slaving for hours in the kitchen rather than drinking wine and chatting with your friends.
Needs to be started in the morning or day before if possible
- 1200g boned pork belly, skin on & scored
- 1 tbsp 5 spice powder
- 1 tbsp maldon salt
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 spring onion, in thin strips, for the garnish
- Place pork belly, skin-side up, on a wire rack over the sink. Pour over boiling water to scald the pork skin – this will help the skin crisp up into crunchy crackling. Pat pork dry and then score skin with Stanley knife in a diamond pattern with lines about 1cm apart – do not cut into flesh. Score the fleshy side with lines 2cm apart and 1cm deep.
- Mix 1 tbsp of the sesame oil & soy & 5 spice powder together to make the marinade and then rub it into all sides except skin and then leave, uncovered, in the fridge for at least 2 hrs, but preferably overnight.
- When ready to cook, heat oven to its maximum setting and take pork out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
- Lay the pork on a rack over a roasting tin, making sure the skin is exposed. Rub skin with sesame oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Roast for 10 mins before turning down the heat to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4, then leave to cook for a further 1½-2 hrs. Have a look at the pork – if the skin isn’t crisp, turn up the heat to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7, then cook for another 15 mins until crisp. Leave to rest on a board for at least 10 mins. (total cooking time of2.15-2.45 hrs)
- Cut in half and then into strips about 1-2 cms thick.
Hoi sin sauce
Can be made well in advance and kept for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.
- 3 tbsp Tamari (suitable if gluten free)
- 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Half a crushed garlic clove
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp tabasco
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 tbsp water
Hoi sin sauce Method
- Put all the ingredients in the blender and blitz until smooth.
- Adjust ingredients to taste
Excuse the use of cups rather than grams here but I find it is the easiest form of measurement. Alternatively you can do 1 small handful of each.
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced asian cabbage
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
- 1/4 cup julienned carrots
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup julienned mange tout
- 1/4 cup julienned spring onions
Asian Slaw method
- In a small saucepan add 2 tablespoons olive oil, ginger and garlic, lightly saute until lightly brown.
- Add brown sugar, soy sauce, and mirin. Saute for 5 minutes and remove from heat.
- When cool whisk in remaining olive oil, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar.
- Use the slicing attachment on the food processor to shred all the veg.
- Mix them in a bowl and toss with dressing.
For the dressing
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
- 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1.5tablespoons tamari
- 1 tablespoons white wine
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ floz rice wine vinegar