Rice Bowls with Crispy Pork Belly

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 onion

1 bulb fennel

a healthy knob of ginger

a few cloves of garlic

1 or 2 fresh red chillies

fennel seeds

star anise

tamari / soy sauce

To accompany: 

Sushi Rice



tenderstem broccoli

kim chi


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

    Comme ça.
  4. 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.
  5. Leave to cool slightly, then remove from the juices and cut into small squares.
  6. Pour the cooking juices through a sieve and reserve liquid to drizzle over pork when serving.
Yes I wiped off that smudge before I sent it out. It’s hard (and maybe unwise) to take pictures in the middle of service! 

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