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*Revised Recipe*

I’ll be honest with you……..I’ve cooked Crispy Pork Belly on a total of  two occasions (it’s a few more times than that now).  Once a couple of Christmas’s ago and once last night.  I will be cooking it again…….and again……and again.  Crispy skin, succulent meat drizzled with a sweet, salty, subtly spiced caramel sauce and topped with a fresh, crunchy Asian herb salad.  This is a show stopping dinner party main course.  I kid you not.

For extra crispy pork belly crackling, dry the pork skin with paper towel and place it in the fridge, uncovered for at least an hour.

Prep time:  30 minutes

Cooking time:  21/2 hours              

$$ Medium Budget

Serves 6

1.5kg Pork Belly, skin scored at 1cm intervals

2 tbs of sea salt

2 tbs of olive oil

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/3 cup of red wine vinegar

1 cup of chicken stock

3 whole star anise

3 tbs of fish sauce

A squeeze of lime

For the Herb Salad:

1 cup of Vietnamese mint leaves (if you can’t get Vietnamese, normal mint or Thai Basil will do)

1 cup of coriander leaves

2 kaffir lime leaves, rolled up and very finely sliced

2 spring onions, cut into 5cm pieces then finely sliced lengthways

1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced

Steamed Jasmine rice to serve

To make the Crispy Pork Belly, preheat the oven to 220° C and put your grill on high.  Pat the pork belly skin dry with paper towel and place on a rack inside a baking tray.  Drizzle over the olive oil and rub the salt right into the skin with your hands.  Pour in enough water to cover the base of the pan and place in the oven.  Cook under the grill for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the skin is super crispy all over.   Turn the grill off and reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for a further 2 hours or until the meat is soft and succulent.  Check the water level every half an hour or so and keep topping up.  This will keep the meat beautifully tender.

While the pork is cooking, place the sugar, vinegar and star anise in a small saucepan.  Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken for approximately 5 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and reduce for another 7-8 minutes or until reduced by half.  Add the fish sauce and a squeeze of lime.  Stir to combine and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

Place the herbs,  lime leaves,  spring onion and chilli in a bowl of iced water for maximum crispiness and mix gently with your fingers. Drain before serving

Remove the Crispy Pork Belly from the oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.  Cover loosely with foil to keep warm.  Cut the pork belly into 5cm squares and serve with steamed rice (I always spoon my rice into a ramekin and invert onto a plate, great for presentation!).  Drizzle over the sauce and top with the a lovely pile of the herb salad.  Serve with steamed Gai Larn or Baby Bok Choy…….

Crispy Pork Belly