Slow roasted pork belly
“It seems as if there is pork belly on every restaurant menu these days. Maybe because it is a very cheap cut of meat, or hopefully because people have seen the light. Pork belly may look fatty, but it is delicious and some of the fat is released in the very slow cooking. Once again, you have to do next to nothing. I read recently that Americans have just discovered that lard contains less cholesterol than butter and less ‘fat’ than olive oil, so Italian lard is the current craze in the Big Apple. Next they will discover that pigeons lay eggs… The ribs can be cooked into a tomato sauce. Extended slow cooking will break down the meat and the sauce will have great flavour..”
2 kg pork belly, ribs removed
1 cup water
char siu sauce or hoisin sauce
2–3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 knob fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 110°C. Wash the pork belly and pat dry. Place in a heavy baking dish, skin down, and add the water.
Spread a thin film of sauce evenly over the pork and sprinkle with the garlic–ginger mixture. Cover loosely with aluminium foil.
Over the next 4 hours, the pork will rise like a soufflé, releasing some of its fat. Eventually it will collapse into a gelatinous, soft texture, redolent of Chinese flavours.
Serve the pork belly with a salad of thinly sliced cabbage dressed with a little balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of the pork cooking juices. Cucumber is also nice and refreshing, and steamed rice makes a good starch accompaniment to mop up the juices.