Some people give wine wine, chocolates or a simple card to their hosts for their generosity in hosting them. For me, I prefer to offer something combining what I’m good at (cooking) and an ingredient that I consider festive and celebratory: Pork Belly.
I’ve made this pork belly dish twice now for my friends and both times it’s been a hit with everybody whose lips come into contact with that salty, crispy crackling. For me, it’s delicious, talked about days afterwards and cheap at under $20 to feed four people. What I like about this dish is that you can prepare it in advance, bung it in the oven and not have to worry about it until it’s done and hour and half later.
Ingredients (For four people)
- 3 x teaspoons of Soy sauce.
- 2 x tablespoons of Chinese five spice. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use cinnamon, cumin powder and/or ground coriander seeds.
- 3 x finely chopped cloves of garlic.
- A cup of stock or coca cola. If you don’ t have any then water will be fine.
- Piece of pork belly (1.5kg approx)
- 1 x tablespoon of salt
Ideally this would take place one day before to ensure the crispiest of crackling, but you can still do it a few hours before.
- Run a sharp knife across the skin of the pork and score lines about 1 x inch apart. Make sure you don’t go too deep and into the flesh.
- Boil about 1 litre of water.
- Lay the pork down on a chopping board, skin side up and over the kitchen sink, tilt it on an angle and slowly pour the hot water over the skin. This enables the pores in skin to open up, resulting in a dryer and crackly crackling. You will notice the skin becoming slightly gelatinous and also a porky odour come off the belly. Don’t let this deter you.
- Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour into a shallow baking tray that is lined with aluminium foil to make it easier to clean after cooking.
- Rest the pork in the marinade ensuring it doesn’t come into contact with the skin and add the salt to the pork skin
- Ideally you would let it rest uncovered and overnight in the refrigerator as the dry air i nthe fridge aids in the drying out of the pork skin. If you don’t have time, 30min-1 hour will suffice
- Pre heat the oven to 180deg celsius.
- Wipe the salt and any excess moisture from the skin and cook for 1 hour 20min or until the meat on the side of the belly is tender enough or can be penetrated easily with a small knife.
- To get the best crackling, if you’re using a fan forced oven, turn the heat up to 220deg celsius and cook for another 15mins. If you have normal oven then most times you can get the best result by using the grill to achieve a great crackle. From this point, make sure you don’t take your eyes off the belly until it’s ready.
Serve with some Chinese greens and/or steamed rice
How do you like to thank your host for letting you stay at their place?
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