Several years ago, we happened upon this fabulous Rick Stein recipe and we have served it many, many times since. It’s a Chinese spiced roast belly of pork with crackling to die for, served with plain basmati rice, steamed pak choi and an oyster sauce based ‘gravy’ (all recipes below). Everyone who eats it absolutely loves it. Everyone who tries it wants the recipe. People invite themselves to dinner and they either hope that this is what we’ll be serving, or just request it outright. It would feature on any number of ‘last supper’ lists. If we could be bothered to enter ‘Come dine with me’, this is what we’d serve to win! Sublime doesn’t begin to cover it. It can look a bit complicated to make at first glance but you’ll be surprised at how easy it is once you’ve made it once. Thanks so much, Rick!
It takes about 30 minutes to prep and about 2 1/2 hours to cook. The pork must be spiced with the dry rub for a good 8 hours or more so remember to factor that into your planning. We usually do this the night before we make it
You will need…
- 2kg piece of thick belly pork with the bones removed and the rind intact – ask your butcher to remove the bones but don’t let him score the rind. This will serve 6 people easily. We often buy a 3kg piece just so we can have leftovers. It reheats really well in a hot oven.
- 1 tablespoon of Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons of Maldon sea salt flakes
- 2 teaspoons of Chinese five-spice powder
- 2 teaspoons of golden caster sugar
- 4 teaspoon of sunflower oil
- 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
- 8 tablespoons of oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
To make: mix the ingredients in a small pan, just heat through before pouring over the steamed greens.
- Enough basmati rice for however many people you are feeding. Soak it in a bowl of cold water about an hour and then drain it before you want to cook it.
- Enough pak choi for however many people you are feeding – allow at least one medium-sized head of pak choi per person. Sugar snap peas work well as an extra vegetable.
To make the pork…
- With a fine skewer, prick the skin of the pork all over. Go through the fat but don’t go so deep that you pierce the flesh.
- Lay the pork on a rack over the sink. Boil a kettle of water and pour it all over the skin. Let it drain and then dry it off well with some kitchen towel.
- Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a dry heat. Add the Sichuan and black peppercorns and swirl them around for a bit until they darken a little and give off an aromatic scent.
- Transfer the peppercorns to a spice grinder and grind them into a fine powder. Tip them into a bowl with the salt, sugar and five-spice powder.
- Turn the pork flesh side up on a large plate or tray and then rub the spice mix into the flesh. Set aside for at least 8 hours somewhere cool. We just put ours in the fridge. You may want to cover it with Clingfilm to stop the fragrance of the spices tainting anything else in the fridge.
- When you’re ready, preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Turn the pork skin-side up and place it on a rack resting on top of a roasting tin (or the oven grill pan) and fill it with water to make a bain-marie.
- Roast the pork on this high heat for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 180°C. and then roast it for another 2 hours. Top up the water if it looks like it’s going to dry out. This method ensures that the skin will crisp and crackle and the meat will be mouth-wateringly tender and full of flavour.
- After 2 hours, increase the oven temperature to 230°C and continue to roast the pork for another 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave it to rest for about 15 minutes. Cover lightly with tin foil to keep it warm.
- With a heavy bladed knife, cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and arrange them on a warmed serving platter.
- Whilst the meat is cooling cook the rice and lightly steam the greens. Dress the greens with the oyster sauce mix as above.
- Serve the pork, rice and sauce dressed greens and wait for the groans of delight.
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Hi there, trying this recipe. When watching Rick Stein, I thought he placed the belly skin side down. Which goes against all logic. If it’s skin side up then doesn’t the rub just wash off into the water. Conversely if it’s skin side down, doesn’t the water stop the skin from crisping up? Unfortunately the butcher scored our belly so we won’t have a sheet of crackling but I think we can live with that. Your comments will be appreciated.
The belly meat sits above the water and the steam rises up to cook the meat. The water shouldn’t touch the meat, only the steam. The skin is never in contact with the water and is always on top.
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I tried this at home and it turned out really well – crispy skin and juicy meat, just as it should be. I could only get pork belly strips, so I just reduced the cooking time – thanks for the recipe!
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