Braised Belly Pork

  • Time: 2 and a half hours
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: medium

Mr WDC
There's a big culinary issue at stake here. Is pork belly skin and fat best when it;s crispy or when it is soft and unctuous? I like it both ways - here's how to do soft and unctuous.

What you need

750g belly pork

1000ml chicken stock

250ml Shaoxing wine

100ml dark soy sauce

60ml plum sauce

1 tbs palm sugar

1 onion sliced

3 garlic cloves crushed

30g sliced ginger unpeeled

8cm stick of cinnamon

2 star anise

8 Sichuan peppercorns

4 white peppercorns

2 bay leaves

 

 



Dad's Recipe Tales

What happened to Fusebox Kitchen? Did it go away forever or has it found a new home?

Many years ago, I often ate in an Asian cafe called Fusebox Kitchen. Tucked away on Stoney Street in in London’s Borough Market, it had the allure—for those in the know—of an undiscovered gem. Alas, it’s long since gone, replaced by the much swankier Wright Brothers Oyster Bar. Fusebox may have been so-called because it offered fusion cooking, but it might also have been about its ability to fuse together a bit of everything: part shop, part community centre and part restaurant and take away. It was an honest and unpretentious centre for the celebration of food. Naturally, as a food lover, I would regularly visit and browse through their produce and cooking equipment. However, despite the eclectic business model, and as the name suggests, the main action revolved around the idea of a kitchen. Along one side of the interior was a serving and preparation area and counter. However, perhaps in true Oriental style the actual kitchen appeared to be in the basement, from where food was carried up the stairs and transferred to the servery. The sitting area was an uncompromising cluster of utilitarian benches and tables, designed to be shared, and certainly comfortable enough to scoff a quick meal during a lunch break. It was always busy at lunchtime, bustling with crowds and queues—it gave the place the feel of an artisans’ canteen.

The menu was diverse and appetizing. But for regular customers, the Fusebox was all about how the specials were repeated on specific days of the week. This meant you could plan to visit on the day they were cooking your favourite lunch. Monday may have been pad Thai, Tuesday could have been nasi goreng, but Wednesday was always belly pork. A big bowl of hot, chunky succulent pork served on rice. Sadly, I cannot recall if the skin was crispy or soft and unctuous. Either way, it was delicious and very filling and one of my best-kept secret pleasures. I never shared the secret—or the guilt of eating so much belly pork—with anybody else.

These days, I can make pretty good braised belly pork myself, but if I’m not sitting in Fusebox on a Wednesday lunchtime, it’s never quite the same…

How Dad Cooked It

1. Allow the pork to air and dry if possible. Buy from a butcher where it will have been hung or remove from the packaging and air in the fridge.

2. Fry the pork in a deep pan in a little vegetable oil. Fry on skin side first at a low temperature for 5 minutes then increase the heat and fry until golden, then brown the rest of the pork. Set aside.

3. Add 500ml of stock to a large pan and then add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the pork and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook at a very low heat (barely a simmer) for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat and keep warm.

4. Strain the braising liquid. Bring 500ml stock to a boil and reduce by half, then add the braising liquid in small amounts until it forms a delicious sauce. Serve with the pork on top of plain rice and your favourite chilli sauce. The braising liquid can be reused, diluted to form other sauces or frozen for later.

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