Vegetarians - look away now! My love affair with pork belly knows no bounds. I adore this piece of meat, and I'm particularly loving an Asian influence. I also have yet to master really crispy crackling, so it was with great anticipation that I tried Kylie Kwong's recipe for Crispy Soy Roasted Pork Belly.
Oh - a quick heads up - start doing this the day before you actually want to eat it!
This recipe promised really great layer of crispy crackling! So I very carefully followed her instructions precisely. Well almost - I deviated from her very first instruction - free range pork from the butcher. Mine came shrink-wrapped from Coles. BUT - it was scored, which is great, because my knives are really blunt.
As an aside - have I told you that I need to go to the Knife Man to get them sharpened, but I'm frightened of going to him, because he gets cranky at you for having blunt knives - not a great tactic to employ to get you to go back in a hurry, I'd have thought....
...anyhoo. First step: place that scored pork belly skin side up on a rack and pour boiling hot water from the kettle all over that baby. This kind of cooks it a bit and supposedly removes "impurities" (I don't even want to think about what they could be). Oh, it is supposed to help make the crackling crispy. Then get paper towel or a tea towel if you like washing and dry that sucker all over. Then pop into the fridge all naked-like to dry out even more.
While my pork was drying out, I made up the marinade:
- 2 tablespoons of brown rice miso paste (or use the only miso paste they sell at Coles)
- 1 tablespoon of five-spice powder
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 1 tablespooon of light soy sauce
Mix 'em up so it looks as attractive as this (trust me, it smells heaps better than it looks):
Get the pork out of the fridge and put it skin side up on a chopping board. Think of the worst thing that happened to you this week and get your (preferably sharp) knife out and stab all over, making little holes all over the skin, being careful not to go all the way through (uh oh). Then turn it over and make cuts about 2cm apart and 1cm deep.
Grab your marinade and massage deeply into all those cuts:
Once again, pop your pork back into the fridge all naked, but this time put a tray and some baking paper underneath to catch all the drips of marinade. Leave overnight this time.
The next day, preheat your oven to 150C, rub the skin of the pork well with sesame oil and sprinkle lots of sea salt on it. Roast for 1.5-2 hours, until tender (a skewer should meet with no resistance when inserted).
Meanwhile, I was just going to add applesauce and gravy, until I came across this recipe for caramel citrus sauce from the Spirit House in Queensland (OMG I love them!!) (the original recipe is here)
- 4 coriander roots
- 50g ginger (I cheated and used 1 heaped teaspoon of the stuff out of a jar)
- 30g fresh tumeric (or cheat and use 1 heaped teaspoon of the powered stuff)
- 500ml of fresh citrus juice (I used an orange - it also suggests mandarin, but I've never juiced one of those)
- 150g palm sugar
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stalk
- 100mls water
- 1 lemon grass stalk (or 1 dessert spoon of the paste stuff)
Pound the coriander roots, ginger and tumeric into a rough paste. Fry it off for a few minutes in a little oil over a medium heat until it starts to colour.
Add the water and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil, then turn down to a fast simmer until it goes all syrupy. The smell is amaze-balls! Strain the chunky bits out and leave the sauce to cool down for a bit.
While you are doing the sauce, bump up the heat in the oven to 220C and continue roasting for another 15 minutes. This final blast of heat will turn the skin into crispy crackling.
Unfortunately for me, I have a crap oven. It doesn't get really hot because the door doesn't close properly, so my crackle was not like in the pic:
I tried to rectify the situation a little by whacking it under the grill on high. I got smoking-hot pork and I'm again grateful I don't have a smoke alarm in my kitchen. It had burnt bits on the edges, but it did crisp up the crackling a little.
Anway, I cut it up, served it with jasmine rice and buk choy and the caramel citrus sauce. It was pretty yummy, considering my oven-fail!
On a friend's (who knows about such things) recommendation, we paired the pork with a Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir (the $17 bottle, not the $32 one). It was yummy too!