Sunday, 10 August 2008

Belly Pork with Garlic

It's the underside of the pig and is easily available in Spain.
It's immensely popular with the Chinese community as it's a cheap cut but huge in flavour.
Choose slab or slices with extra lean meat; ¾ lean to fats but with skin on for this dish.
The skin is important to hold the pieces together.

This dish could be more complicated with the addition of cinnamon, star anise, cloves, dried mushrooms and chestnuts etc but I wanted to keep it simple as it would be easier for friends who are unaccustomed to foreign flavours. It's pointless to go out to buy certain ingredients and be left in the larder for ages.

The recipe may look long winded but it's worth the effort.
Improvise as you see fit. The main thing is to enjoy experimentation.

1. Four tablespoons of peanut or vegetable oil
2. Two additional tablespoons peanut/vegetable oil to fry the spices.
3. Two kilos of belly pork rashers washed and patted dry. Slice into bite size pieces.
4. Nine or more cloves of garlic, skinned but left whole
5. Five shallots or one red onion, sliced roughly.
6. Three tablespoons of fresh minced ginger
7. Two cups chicken stock or water
8. Stalk of spring onion/coriander for the sauce, light part bruised and tied into a knot
9. Extra stalk of spring onion/coriander for garnishing
10. Two tablespoons of five-spice powder
11. Pinch of salt
12. One tablespoon caramelised black soya sauce for colouring (optional)
13. Two tablespoons of Shaoxing wine/dry sherry
14. One tablespoon water and half teaspoon of corn flour/potato flour
15. Few drops of sesame oil to finish off the dish

Marinate pork slices with following for at least an hour but best overnight:
1. Four tablespoons of mushroom or black soya sauce
2. Two tablespoons of light soya sauce
3. Dash of white pepper
4. One tablespoon of castor sugar
5. Two tablespoons of sesame oil
6. Mix well together and place in a plastic bag and keep refrigerated. Turn bag around periodically for even seasoning.

1. Bring marinated belly pork to room temperature.
2. Heat up wok/pot on high heat. When wok/pot is hot, add four tablespoons of oil and twirl oil around pot, add garlic cloves, and stir around till garlic cloves are browned. Remove and set aside.
3. In the same wok/pot, increase heat and when oil is smoking, add belly pork. Do not stir for a few seconds, giving the pork a chance to brown slightly. Flip pork over and stir on high heat for about three minutes.
4. Add chicken stock/water and stalk of spring onion/coriander, mix well with the pork. Bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes or till just slightly tender. Stir mixture occasionally.
5. Heat up a separate pan with two tablespoons of oil, when oil is hot, lower to medium heat, add minced ginger, shallots/onion and pre-fried garlic pieces. Fry gently for about a minute till aromatic.
6. Lower heat further, add five-spice powder and mix ingredients gently for about a minute. The smell will permeate the whole house. Increase heat to high, splash Shaoxing wine/dry sherry in pan, stir well and spoon half a ladle of sauce from the pot of simmering pork. Add salt, mix well and pour mixture back into the pot of simmering pork
7. Continue cooking pork till pork pieces are tender according to taste.
8. Add caramelised black soya sauce and corn flour mixture. Stir well.
9. Before serving, add extra sesame oil and garnish with spring onion slices.
10. This dish tastes better overnight and freezes very well.

Note: Do not throw away the sauce. It freezes very well. Use the package of saved sauce for a different batch or in any other braising meat dishes.

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