Saturday, August 18, 2007

Aromatic Pork Belly Hot Pot

1.5kg Pork belly, with the rind on
About 1.5 liters Pork or chicken stock, if available, otherwise water
12 spring onions
100ml light soy sauce
75ml Chinese rice wine
25ml rice wine vinegar
2tbsp soft light brown sugar
3 star anise
10cm piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced into rounds
a good pinch of dried chili flakes

Remove the bones from the pork belly and cut into rectangular chunks, about 2.5x5cm. Put them in a large pan, pour over enough boiling water just to cover, then bring back to the boil. Simmer gently for about 5 min, skimming off the scum that rises to the surface, then drain through a colander. Rinse out the pan if necessary, return the pork to it and pour over enough boiling stock or water to cover it again. Cut 5 of the spring onions in half and add to the pan with the soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar, sugar, star anise, ginger and chili flakes. Stir well and bring back to the boil. Reduce heat, cover tightly and simmer very slowly for about 2 hours, turning the meat occasionally, until the pork is very tender, soft and succulent.
Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid into a clean pan, skim off as much fat as you can (but don’t worry about leaving a little), then boil the stock hard to reduce and concentrate the flavors. It should be lightly syrupy and intensely aromatic, but don’t over reduce as the soy sauce could make it too salty.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the remaining spring onions on the diagonal. Return the pork to the sauce and heat through. Serve over plain noodles in warmed soup bowls, with plenty of the broth ladled over and the sliced spring onions scattered on top of the meat.

This was from The River Cottage Meat Book which I am absolutely and totally in love with right now.

I had great fun with this recipe. I had never bought belly pork before, so I asked my butcher what exactly it looks like, so I could decide if I wanted it or not. He disappeared into the back, and the reemerged with what looked like the whole bottom of a pig. It was still vaguely pig shaped. It was really cool to see exactly what I was getting. I would recommend going to a good butcher for this, they’ll be able to help you out. I got to see the whole chunk of meat that I wanted, and then he boned it and cut it up for me too because it’s a bit of a job when the meat still has the rind on. My knives aren’t that good.

The actual cooking was super easy. It takes awhile, but doesn’t require all that much effort. I used about 2 liters of liquid for the long cooking (I had to in order to cover the meat), half good chicken stock, and half water. This wound up being a good mix, the concentrated broth wasn’t too strong, just really beautifully aromatic, just like it said, and very tasty. The flavors of the spices really came through.

Anyone who has seen belly pork knows that this is about as far from a low fat dish as you can get, but do try this. It’s soooo good! I love it. It’s a fairly authentic Chinese dish from what I understand, and it looks like it is probably the dish that was bastardized in order to create the modern monstrosity of pot noodles.

It’s noodles, it’s seriously good soup, and it’s huge chunks of meat. As you would expect, everyone loved it.


Knit One said...

I never thought of pork bellies except as something funny to trade in the stock market.It never dawned on me that people would eat them. You actually made some good looking soup. The Yorkshire pudding was not what I pictured, although I'm not sure what I thought it would look like. How about a treacle tart? I really enjoy your blog. Becky AKA Knit One

AteThat said...

It's funny you should mention that, because I am planning to make a treacle dessert in the next week or so. It's not a tart though, it's a treacle sponge (or pudding). It's a really popular kind of dessert out here. It's a cake, but it is steamed instead of baked. Really fun! It gets eaten with custard sauce too, which rocks.

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