Red-braised pork belly
We’re only allowed to make braised pork belly twice a year. After all, you can only fly so close to the sun, before you fall to earth. It’s glorious. Chunks of unctuous meat layered with tender fat, simmering in a sweet-and-savoury-sauce, until they come to sticky, slippery, soft perfection; bathed in a “sauce” of glistening oil.
This red-braised version is different from the typical Vietnamese style braised pork belly that we usually make, with Wendy. But it’s equally delicious. Red braising (紅燒) is a style of slow cooking, with soy, rice wine, and typical 5 spice aromatics — you can also add hard boiled eggs, or vegetables, like turnip. Pork belly should be available at nearly any Asian market or carniceria, but you can red braise any other meat, if you like. Serve it with rice, or in a sandwich.
This recipe is taken, pretty much verbatim, from Fuschia Dunlop’s “Land of Plenty”.
– 1 1/4 lb (500g), skin-on pork-belly
– 2in (5cm) pice of ginger
– 2 scallions (green onions), whole
– 3 tbsp (45ml) peanut oil
– 2 cups (500ml) chicken stock
– 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
– 2 tbsp (15ml) Shaoxing rice wine, or sherry
– 3/4 tsp (10ml) salt
– 3 tbsp (45ml) brown sugar
– 1/2 star anise
Blanch the pork for a few minutes in boiling water, if you’re feeling finicky, then discard the water. When meat starts to boil, you get a completely harmless scum that forms. Blanching meat before stewing it like this, makes for a more clear broth, but doesn’t affect the taste.
Cut the meat into 2 inch (5cm) chunks, so that every chunk has a bit of the outside skin. Chop the scallion into a 3-4 sections, and cut the ginger into slices.
Add oil to a heavy pan over high heat, and when it’s hot (almost smoking) add the pork. Brown the pork, then add all the other ingredients.
Let it come to a boil, then turn the heat to very low. Let it simmer like this, uncovered, for about 2 hours. The meat should be tender, and the liquid very reduced.