500g pork belly with skin on
For the marinade
80ml dark soy sauce
80ml Shaoxing wine
For the dry rub
1 tbs five spice powder
1 tsp table salt
For the soy dipping sauce
Marinade from above
1 tbs plum sauce
1 tbs hoisin sauce
80ml fresh chicken stock or water
Pickled mustard greens from packet, rinsed
Pickled cucumber from packet
Hot chilli sauce of choice (optional)
This should turn out like a perfect piece of Sunday roast pork with crackling – but in a Chinese style. It’s often served at room temperature and it improves with a bit of hanging around, which is something they understand in Cantonese restaurants where it hangs in the window. But we can leave it in the fridge and let it come to room temperature before serving. Or, of course, it can be reheated or eaten straight from the oven. The secret is to offset the rich – and let’s face it, fatty – pork with simple plain rice and some greens. I’ve shown garnishes of pickled vegetables which also tone down the richness of the pork. The marinade is adapted into a sauce. The pork skin goes through a bit of a process – but it’s worth it.
1. Prepare the pork. The skin should be scored by the butcher, if it is not, or it is done rather haphazardly, get a Stanley knife or a scalpel and ensure the skin is covered with criss-cross cuts which cut through the skin but do not penetrate the meat. Balance a rack over the sink and place the pork over it skin side up. Boil a full kettle of water. Pour the boiling water over the skin. Set aside.
2. Prepare the marinade. Put the soy, wine and vinegar in a shallow dish slightly larger than the piece of pork. Put the pork into the dish and marinate in the fridge, uncovered, for an our. Ensure the marinade does not cover the skin. The aim is to dry the skin.
3. Air-dry the pork. Remove the pork from the fridge, take out the pork from the marinade and dry with kitchen towels. Sprinkle the five spice over the meat. Mix the five spice and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle over the meat with your fingers. Rub the spice all over the meat (not on the skin). Brush off excess spice and salt. Improvise string hooks or skewers to hang the pork in front of an open window. Let the pork air for an hour or two. The use of a fan will speed the drying process. The marinade and spice coatings should deter any wildlife or pathogens while the pork is air-drying.
4. Cook the pork. Preheat the oven to 240°C, gas mark 9. Put the pork on a rack in a roasting tin in the middle of the oven and roast for 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 200°C, gas mark 6 and continue roasting for 45-55 minutes or until the crackling is done.
5. Make a dipping sauce. Combine the marinade with the dipping sauce ingredients in a small pan and bring to a simmer for a minute. Take off the heat and cool.
6. Serve. Let the pork rest for at least half an hour, uncovered. Turn it over and cut into slices with a sharp knife. Serve with garnishes, plain rice, greens, the dipping sauce and your own favourite chilli sauce.