This is a Cantonese classic, eaten on hot rice with a drizzle of roasting juices.
The red fermented tofu is crucial for the right flavour, and is indeed great to marinate or stew any meat for a deeper, more intensely savoury flavour.
800g (1lb 12oz) piece of pork belly with skin (boneless weight)
2 cubes of red fermented tofu (bean curd), mashed with a fork*
½ tsp five-spice powder*
1 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, grated on the fi nest setting of a box cheese grater
cooking oil, for rubbing
Sriracha to serve*
* Marked ingredients can be made at home and recipes can be found in the book, China Town Kitchen. For red fermented tofu see page 163, for five-spice powder see page 205 and for home made Sriracha page 109. These ingredients are also available in generic versions at local Asian grocery stores.
1 If your piece of pork belly has bones, remove these so that the slab sits as level as possible. If the skin hasn’t been scored, do so with a very sharp knife but only the skin, not through the fat to the flesh.
2 Place the piece of pork belly on a rack in the sink and pour a full kettle of just-boiled water carefully, slowly and evenly over the skin of the belly in the sink. Leave to drain and dry.
3 Mix the fermented tofu with the five-spice, 1½ teaspoons of salt, the sugar and garlic. Dry the piece of pork belly with kitchen paper and place on a plate, skin side down. Score the flesh about half the depth of the meat into wide strips (so perhaps 3 times), then rub the marinade over the pork belly meat and into the cuts. Turn back over, dry the skin, rub with 1 tablespoon of salt and leave to marinate in the fridge, uncovered, for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.
4 Take the pork belly out of the fridge about an hour before cooking so that it can come up to room temperature, wiping the salt off the skin. Preheat your oven to 220°C (425°F) Gas Mark 7, rub the skin with a little cooking oil and place the pork on a rack in a roasting tin, skin side down. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting tin to cover the bottom of it, but not so that it touches the pork. Roast for 25 minutes, then turn over and roast for a further 30 minutes. (If your piece of pork belly is bigger than 1kg/2lb 4oz, roast for 20 minutes per 450g/1lb of the total weight plus 20 minutes.)
5 Remove the pork from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes. If the skin isn’t crisp or hasn’t puffed up much, place under a hot grill, and watch it like a hawk, for a few minutes until it has puffed.
6 To serve, chop the pork into thick slices or bite-sized pieces. Fan out on a plate for everyone to help themselves with a small bowl of Homemade Sriracha for dipping.
Chinatown Kitchen by Lizzie Mabbott is published by Hachette Australia, RRP$35.00, ebook RRP$19.99.