When I asked my closest friends, family, customers and students what their favourite dish was my brother Jim said he was a big fan of crispy pork belly. He said he even loves eating it cold and always ends up eating too much!
This is the recipe for pork belly our grandmother used to make when we were small. Lilly was especially proud of the fact that even though belly is a cheap cut of meat her cooking method transformed it into food fit for a king. She was certainly right. I can still remember our whoops of delight and utter satisfaction as we bit into the crispy crackling.
Preparation time 10 hours
Cooking time 1 hour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon five spice powder
700g pork belly
½ tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
1 teaspoon rock salt, to taste
Make sure you keep the skin as dry as possible before the pork goes into the oven. This will ensure you get really good crackling.
Combine the salt, sugar and five spice powder in a bowl and set aside. Using a sharp knife, scrape away any impurities and hair from the rind of the pork. Rinse thoroughly.
Bring 1.5 litres of water to the boil in a wok, put in the pork belly and simmer gently for 15 minutes to soften the skin. Drain well and pat dry on kitchen paper; the rind, in particular, needs to be as dry as possible.
Using a sharp knife, poke as many holes in the rind as possible but try not to pierce into the meat. The holes release the fat as it cooks, helping the rind to crisp up.
Rub the seasonings and Shaoxing wine over the flesh side of the meat; do not get any of the seasoning on the rind. Put the pork on a sheet of foil, flesh-side down, and wrap up the sides tightly keeping the rind uncovered. Transfer the pork to the fridge overnight, during which time the seasoning will penetrate the flesh and the skin will dry out completely.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 200°C/gas 7.
Remove the pork from fridge and take off the foil. Put the pork, skin-side up, on a rack set inside a roasting tray. Rub the rock salt into the rind to season it.
Transfer the pork to the hot oven for 15 minutes, and then reduce the temperature to 200°C/fan 200°C/gas 6 and continue to cook for a further 45 minutes.
To serve, cut the pork into slices and accompany with rice.
This recipe was supplied by the Tse Sisters from the renowned Sweet Mandarin restaurant in Manchester. You can check out more delicious recipes from their cookbook.