Cookbook Challenge: Week 44, Chinese

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.