Cookbook Challenge: Week 44, Chinese

Posted on | September 19, 2010 | 29 Comments

Pork belly

Recipe: Sticky Asian Pork Belly
From: Donna Hay Simple Essentials: Lamb, Beef and Pork

It’s Chinese week for the Cookbook Challenge, and I didn’t have a plan for this week. What?! How did that happen? Being Chinese, I should have had a TON of ideas. Maybe I had too many options and was paralysed by indecision. Who knows! In the end, I made pork belly for this week just because I saw it at the shop – it was a total impulse purchase.

The pork belly I bought didn’t have the skin on it, so I couldn’t make the classic Chinese crispy roast pork. Instead, I followed a Donna Hay recipe for a sticky Asian pork belly (close enough) and braised the belly in a mixture of wine, hoisin sauce, kecap manis and soy sauce. (The recipe says to bake it, but I braised it and it worked well enough.) I cooked the pork and then let it cool in the fridge overnight, a step that I highly recommend because it meant I could scoop off a lot of the solidified fat. And, holy cow, was there rather a lot of fat and oil – it’s pork belly after all!

After hours of braising, the pork belly was soft and tender. It was a bit fatty, but not excessively so. The marinade and cooking sauce was quite strong and tangy, and there was an edge to it that I wasn’t sure I liked. Too much hoisin? Too much rice wine? I’m not sure. So it wasn’t the best pork belly I’ve ever eaten, though it was much better when eaten with plain rice to help cut through some of the richness.

Pork belly isn’t something I cook or eat often – everything in moderation of course! But next time I make it, I’ll try another recipe. I want something better than okay if I’m making pork belly – I want absolutely drool worthy! Does anyone have any recipe suggestions?

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Pork belly

Sticky Asian pork belly

Adapted from: Donna Hay Simple Essentials: beef, lamb and pork

4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 cup Chinese cooking wine
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons kecap manis
1 cup water
2 fresh chillies, roughly chopped
1kg pork belly

In a large bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, hoisin, wine, sugar, kecap manis, chillies and water. Add the pork belly (skin side down, if it has skin) to the marinade, and cover and refridgerate for at least one hour.

Place the pork belly and marinade into a large pot. Bring the liquid up to the boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Let it simmer until tender – probably a couple of hours. When the pork is tender, leave it to cool in the fridge overnight.

The next day, scoop off the solidified fat and discard. Gently reheat the pork belly. When it is warm, remove the pork belly and cut into strips/pieces. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and let it reduce slightly. Add some cornflour mixed into water to thicken the sauce.

Return the pork belly to the sauce and serve with plain rice.

Comments

29 Responses to “Cookbook Challenge: Week 44, Chinese”

  1. Hannah
    September 19th, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

    This looks remarkably like something we’d find at a restaurant. Bravo, my dear!
    Hannah recently posted..PB &amp J Nuts- An Impossible Dream

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    Agnes Reply:

    Hehee… did you miss something? Read it again.

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  2. Hannah
    September 19th, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

    Okay, I’ve read it five times now… do you just mean because it wasn’t entirely tasty? That doesn’t negate the fact that it looks like awesome ;)
    Hannah recently posted..PB &amp J Nuts- An Impossible Dream

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    Agnes Reply:

    Mooooooooooooooooooooooo :)

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    Hannah Reply:

    Now you’re just being veal-y silly.
    Hannah recently posted..PB &amp J Nuts- An Impossible Dream

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    Agnes Reply:

    I know, but I’m amoosing myself. :)

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    Hannah Reply:

    Well, you are the creme de la creme :)
    Hannah recently posted..PB &amp J Nuts- An Impossible Dream

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    Agnes Reply:

    Do I deserve a HALLELUJAH yet?

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    Hannah Reply:

    You deserve both a HALLELUJAH and a PUH-RAAAAISE JESUS, by my count.
    Hannah recently posted..PB &amp J Nuts- An Impossible Dream

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  3. penny aka jeroxie
    September 19th, 2010 @ 10:54 pm

    I have a couple of chinese cookbooks (translated) at home. Next time, just come over and grab a copy :)
    penny aka jeroxie recently posted..Fresh seafood everywhere – Sydney Fish Market

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    almostalwaysravenous Reply:

    penny – wow, did u hand translate those? i don’t think i’d ever be bothered, i’d just read it in chinese =P
    agnes – mum has quite a few “ancient” cantonese cookbooks from like 20+ years ago with some brilliant recipes. i’ll share them on my blog when i get the chance, darn, though that means i’ll also need to translate…sigh
    almostalwaysravenous recently posted..Al’s Photography 1

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    Agnes Reply:

    Penny, I’ll check out your books next time! :D

    almostalwaysravenous: Yes, share some of the recipes on your blog! That would be cool to see :)

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  4. leaf @ theindolentcook
    September 20th, 2010 @ 12:45 am

    Mmmmmm… pork belly is good stuff. As for suggestions, perhaps you can try a Vietnamese style pork belly? I looked it up online a couple of months ago, tried it and quite liked it – some of the ingredients are quite similar though, not sure if it would taste significantly different to the recipe you used for this one.
    leaf @ theindolentcook recently posted..cruzao arepa bar- fitzroy- venezuelan charm

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    Agnes Reply:

    Thanks for the suggestion – that’s a good one too! I’ll check out Vietnamese style recipes next time :)

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  5. penny aka jeroxie
    September 20th, 2010 @ 8:51 am

    Ermm.. it’s all in English. Bad translation but works for me…. LOL!
    penny aka jeroxie recently posted..Fresh seafood everywhere – Sydney Fish Market

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  6. Celeste @ Berrytravels
    September 20th, 2010 @ 9:01 am

    Ahh! that looks so yummy. I haven’t tried cooking pork belly in so long.. the fat always makes me feel so guilty!
    Celeste @ Berrytravels recently posted..Review- Gold Leaf Restaurant- Preston

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    Agnes Reply:

    Hehee, I just eat fatty things and ignore the voice inside that tells me it’s bad for me. ;)

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  7. Sarah
    September 20th, 2010 @ 11:55 am

    ooh this looks really good – shame it didn’t taste the way you wanted it to.

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    Agnes Reply:

    I thought it was a shame too – it’s pork belly! It should be mouthwateringly delicious!

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  8. lotsofcravings
    September 20th, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

    i can imagine the melt in your mouth pork belly with hot white rice!

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    Agnes Reply:

    Everything is better with hot white rice! Nom.

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  9. Conor @ HoldtheBeef
    September 21st, 2010 @ 1:54 am

    I know your pretty photo includes pretty chopsticks, but can I please use my hands with these? I’ll wipe them properly before I touch anything.
    Conor @ HoldtheBeef recently posted..In the garden of cupcakes- baby

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    Agnes Reply:

    Don’t even bother with your hands – just dive in mouth first. :p

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  10. Gourmet Getaways
    September 21st, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

    Ohhh yum, I did the same dish but I used a different cut of pork to save some fat. Yours looks delicous though!!! I was tempted to do pork belly and after looking at yours I kinda wish I did :)

    I was very happy with the taste of the recipe I used, it said to use pork belly but I am struggling to fit into my jeans since I started the cookbook challenge in week 30. :)
    Gourmet Getaways recently posted..Cookbook Challenge Week 44

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    Agnes Reply:

    Hehee, I’m sure your dish was delicious with the different cut of pork :D And if it means you can stay fitting in your jeans – even better!

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  11. Anca@bistrogerard
    September 22nd, 2010 @ 12:19 am

    I must admit I’ve never tried pork belly, but your photos look amazing, so now I’m intrigued enough to want to experiment with it myself. I’m sorry the recipe didn’t live up to your expectations, but I guess it’s a good reason to try to improve on it next time :-)
    Anca@bistrogerard recently posted..Pumpkin Pie Brioche from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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    Agnes Reply:

    Yep, it’s definitely a good reason to try cooking it again :D

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  12. mademoiselle delicieuse
    September 22nd, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

    And I bet the sauce would’ve been so good mixed into plain rice as well!
    mademoiselle delicieuse recently posted..Epicure Recipe Card 48- Triple Chocolate Cake with Truffles

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    Agnes Reply:

    One of my favourite things is plain rice with sauce. Any sauce will do. ;) Yum.

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