Braised pork belly with orange and ginger

17 May

Tender and aromatic pork belly strips (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

When I’m out for dinner and there’s pork belly on the menu, I’ll probably end up ordering it. Although it’s traditionally a very fatty cut of meat, it can be one of the most rewarding cuts to eat: tender like a cloud, filled with flavours from heaven.

My husband gave me one of Reuben Riffel’s cookbooks (Reuben Cooks) as a present for my birthday a few years ago.  His recipe for “braised pork belly with ginger-caramel sauce” is just dreamy, and I have used it as inspiration to cook many a pork belly in my kitchen over the past few years. Reuben uses a combination of stock, orange, soy, ginger, start anise, cinnamon, peanut oil and brown sugar to braise his pork belly, which he tops off with a caramel sauce infused with chillies, lime, fish sauce and ginger. My recipe is a lot simpler, but still delivers big time on intensely aromatic Asian flavours.

It is imperative to cook the pork belly long enough to ensure a really tender result (Reuben cooks his for 4 hours at 160C), but one of my recent new “tricks” is to cut the pork belly into thick slices before cooking it, thus ensuring a much shorter cooking time (about 2 and a half hours at 160C). I also choose a smoked boneless pork belly with as little fat as possible, ending up with a tender, meaty roast. Perfect as canapés, starters or a main course.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg smoked boneless pork belly
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • rind (peeled) of 1 orange
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 T (30 ml) grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C.
  2. Using a sharp knife, score the fat side of the pork belly diagonally into diamonds of about 1 x 1 cm (just a few mm’s deep).
  3. Now cut the pork belly into strips of about 2 cm thick, keeping the slices together.
  4. Place the sliced pork belly (fat side up) into a rectangular roasting dish that fits the pork belly snugly, but make sure that the slices aren’t packed too tightly against each other.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, rind, start anise, ginger, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and sugar. Pour over the belly – it should just come up to the sides but not cover the fat side completely.
  6. Roast for 2 and a half hours, then remove from the oven. The fat side should be dark and golden, but not too crispy – if you like yours very crisp then turn up the heat and grill the top for a few minutes (this is optional, I rarely do it).
  7. Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies like broccoli or spinach. The braising sauce can also be served, but it is optional.

Credits:

This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog.

Recipe testing, text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe and Nicola Pretorius

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