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Using something as unlikely as ginger ale, this pork belly proves a winner every time we serve it.

You can give this belly even more Oriental flair by adding lime juice and some lime rind, more chilies and fresh coriander roots to the cooking liquid.

And you can go the whole Oriental way by serving it with a coriander topping (like an Italian Gremolata) made of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves, finely grated lime rind, finely chopped garlic and ginger, a little brown sugar and moistened with a little lime juice. All to you own taste. And all too divine!

Enjoy!

Spiced Pork Belly

Ingredients


  • 1.8 to 2 kg pork belly with rib bones intact
  • prepared hot English mustard
  • salt
  • 2 large onions, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 6-cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly sliced
  • all the cloves of a whole bulb of garlic, peeled
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 whole red chili, a small slit made in its side
  • 65 ml soft brown sugar
  • 125 ml medium sherry (or dry Chinese rice wine)
  • 65 ml dark soy sauce
  • 65 ml light soy sauce
  • 45 ml Chinese rice vinegar (or plain white vinegar)
  • 1 litre ginger ale



Chef's hint:

Method


First prepare the meat for the oven. Score the fatty skin of the meat with a sharp knife into 2-cm diamond patterns, taking care not to cut too deeply into the flesh.

Now place the meat with the skin side down onto a board. With a sharp knife, cut about 4 cm deep in between the rib bones so that the fragrant cooking liquid and seasoning can permeate into the meat. Rub the fleshy sides of the meat and in-between the bones with a little prepared English mustard. Don't be concerned: the heat of the mustard dissipates during cooking but leaves the meat succulent and tasty, with the need for salt reduced. However, still salt the meat lightly, including in-between the bones. Turn the meat around and rub the fatty skin side lightly with a little mustard and salt lightly (including in-between the cuts in the skin).

Place the onions into a large casserole followed by the ginger, garlic, star anise and whole chili. Add the sugar and pour in the sherry or rice wine, soy sauces and vinegar and mix lightly. Now add the ginger ale slowly as it may fizz up furiously then put the meat into the pan with the fatty skin facing uppermost and being above the liquid level with the fleshy part submerged in the liquids. This is to minimize the sugar in the liquid coming into contact with the fatty skin and causing it to roast to a pitch black ... not a very appetizing appearance..!

Cover the casserole with a lid or foil and roast in the oven preheated to 190 C for 2.5 hours or until the meat is tender enough to your liking.

When the meat is done to your liking, transfer it to a baking sheet with the fatty side uppermost. Increase the oven temperature to 200 C and continue to roast the meat uncovered until nicely browned all over, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make a sauce. Strain the cooking liquids into a large, shallow saucepan. If you like, puree or push the soft onions, garlic and ginger through the sieve and add it to the liquid in the saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil (skim any fat off that rises to the top) and cook rapidly on high without a lid until reduced and thickened to your liking. Transfer to a serving jug and keep warm.

When the meat is nicely browned, remove from the oven, cut it into thick slices and arrange on a warmed meat platter.

Serve with the sauce and some simple stir-fried oriental greens like pak choy (Chinese cabbage) and fragrant sticky rice or Chinese noodles.

Serves 8