Pork belly. One of the best things to eat. Ever. And sticky pork belly, Chinese style, reigns supreme. Deeply savoury? Tick. Fragrant with sweet spices? Hell yeah. Sinfully salty? Uh-huh.
Soft enough to use as a pillow, with fat that melts away like clouds, well cooked pork belly is simply sheer joy.
Did we mention sticky?
Chinese sticky pork belly
Sticky pork belly is not difficult to make. As with most things the devil is in the detail. You will need thick cut strips of belly pork, at least an inch thick all round, with plenty of creamy white fat and soft pink meat. The leaner part of the belly, with darker meat and less fat can dry out easily and be a bit chewy. Cooked on the stove top, the pan you use is important. You need a heavy bottomed pan that won’t burn or weld the meat to the bottom. In other words, a good quality pan. A cast iron casserole is ideal.
The recipe calls for 1kg meat. This is a lot, but it does shrink and you will want plenty. Leftovers can be used in Singapore noodles. If they get that far. Don’t be put off by the dark colour, it is just the soy sauce and the dark brown sugar that give the dish a deep molasses flavour. Instead of using black pepper, you could try adding a tablespoon of our black pepper sauce for a deeper flavour.
We served ours with plain white rice, Asian greens, and some quick pickles.
Recipe for sticky pork belly
Servings - 4 Ingredients 1kg thick pork belly strips, cut in 2 inch pieces 1 litre water 2 inches fresh ginger, sliced 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed 4 bay leaves 3 star anise 1 cinnamon stick 4 spring onions, cut in half For the sauce 1 tsp vegetable oil 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar 2 tbsp honey 4 tablespoons soy sauce 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar 1 tsp black pepper For the garnish Spring onion, chopped Toasted sesame seeds
- Bring the water to the boil in a large pot with the ginger, garlic, spring onions, and aromatics.
- Once boiling, add the pork, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Drain in a colander, keeping 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Put the pan back on the heat, make sure it is dry, and add the oil.
- Add the drained ingredients back to the pan, turn the heat to medium high, and let the pork brown. Stir occasionally. It will stick to the pot, don’t worry. Let it brown, and keep releasing it with a wooden spoon. This stage is really important, you need all that caramelisation on the meat, and the fat to render down. Don’t rush, just keep going until the meat is browned all over. Give it about 20 minutes.
- When the meat is nicely browned, stir in the sugar, honey, vinegar, soy and black pepper. Turn the heat to low.
- When the sugar has dissolved, add the reserved cooking liquid.
- Put the lid on and simmer for about 45 minutes.
- The liquid should have reduced to a glaze. If not, continue cooking with the lid off until it looks thick and sticky.
- Leave to stand in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.
- Remove the aromatics to serve, and garnish with sesame and spring onion.