I made these rice bowls in work recently. Usually when I cook a dish for service I never eat it for lunch – you have just been so in it it loses all appeal. But I ate a porky rice bowl two days in a row after spending my entire morning consumed in its preparation because I love it that much.
I have included just the recipe for the pork belly itself. The dish has so many elements if I were to give recipes for them all I would never finish this post. I used kim-chi, peanut-sesame-chili sauce, pickled carrots and daikon radishes and served it all on a bed of sushi rice. Use whatever you like – this is basically a savoury ice-cream sundae in terms of preparation. Just throw on a bunch of stuff of different textures, spice levels, colours and stop when you’re happy.
I cooked this in a big professional oven at work so had no problem with heat. Domestic ovens may take a bit longer so I would recommend frying the pork off first á la Gordon Ramsay.
I roasted some pumpkin wedges in the Szechuan pepper rub for a vegetarian option, if you are that way inclined.
For the pork rub:
1.3kg / 3lb pork belly with rind attached – no rind no crackling!
1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp Maldon salt
2 tsp five spice powder
2 tsp sugar -whatever you have available except icing sugar
To roast the pork with:
1 bulb fennel
a healthy knob of ginger
a few cloves of garlic
1 or 2 fresh red chillies
tamari / soy sauce
- Score the flesh of the pork belly using a very sharp knife. You can make a criss cross pattern or just slash it in lines. This helps the fat to render and produces a crispy crispy crackling. Mine came pre-scored from the butchers. If yours doesn’t you can ask your butcher to do it for you. Don’t worry too much about getting the perfect pattern – I’ve seen different techniques used all over. The most important thing is not to penetrate the flesh.
- Grind the peppercorns, sugar and together, and rub all over the pork belly, getting it into every nook and cranny and giving it a really good thorough massage. Refrigerate overnight or for at least a few hours.
- When you are ready to cook it roughly chop the onion, fennel, ginger, garlic and chillies. Place in a roasting tray big enough to fit the meat, throw in the star anise and fennel seeds, drizzle over a generous glug of tamari or soy and then place the meat on top. Pour water into the pan until it reaches just below the skin.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Cook the pork for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and cook for a further 90 minutes, then turn heat up again to 230C/450F/gas mark 8 and give one final blast for about 15 minutes. It is hard to overcook pork belly because it is so fatty.
- Leave to cool slightly, then remove from the juices and cut into small squares.
- Pour the cooking juices through a sieve and reserve liquid to drizzle over pork when serving.