If you want to cook to impress – you must try this belly belly delicious dish that brings out the best in a pork belly through 2 cooking methods – braise and deep fry.
When I first tasted their flagship dish at Red Spice Road, I could not get it out of my head ever since. I was obsessed with its amazing flavours and told myself that I have to try the recipe – all I need is time and focus because there are a lot of components in this recipe that needs to be prepared ahead … and well, to achieve that perfect belly of goodness.
Pork belly is one of the most popular meat used in Asian cuisine especially in Chinese and Korean dishes. The primary method to cook pork belly is braising or slow cooked which gives us meat that’s full of flavour and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Apart from the fact that I absolutely L.O.V.E pork belly, combining 2 cooking techniques by first braising the pork belly to give that melt-in-your-mouth texture and later deep fry to crisp up the skin and edges have done justice to get a perfectly cooked pork belly. To add more punch, it is dressed with beautiful sweet, spicy, sticky chilli caramel and apple slaw that adds a jolt of freshness to the dish. It is not just a delicious dish. It IS one of the most delicious dish I have ever made – leaving a memorable and “haunting” taste in your mouth so much so that you want more and more of it.
This dish needs to be prepared 1 day in advance.
Pork Belly with Apple Slaw and Chilli Caramel (adapted from Red Spice Road’s recipe)
800g pork belly slab
1L master stock (Red Spice Road’s method)
200ml chilli caramel
1 large red chilli, seeded and sliced
1 large pinch spring onions, chopped
2 cups tapioca starch
100ml light soy sauce
2 tbsp five spice powder
1L vegetable oil
Black vinegar, to dress
150ml light soy sauce
400ml shao xing wine
150g yellow rock sugar
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
6 star anise
4 cardamom pods
1 tsp sichuan pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
Shiso leaves, torn
1/2 green apple, sliced into matchsticks
Nuoc cham, to dress the slaw
2 garlic cloves
50ml fish sauce
50ml lime juice
50ml rice vinegar
2 red bullet chillies, sliced
70g castor sugar
500g castor sugar
3 small red chillies, chopped
12 star anise
100ml fish sauce
100ml light soy sauce
1. To make the Master Stock, combine all ingredients in a stock pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Set aside 1L of master stock and strain the remaining stock into an air-tight container and chill.
2. Pre-heat oven to 180 celsius. Place the belly (skin side up) in a deep baking tray, pour the master stock over the belly, just nice to cover the belly. Cover the tray with foil and place in the oven. Cook for around 4 hours and check occasionally to make sure that the stock has not reduced too much. If it has, top up with a little more master stock or water. Remove the belly and allow to cool slightly for about 15minutes on a wire rack. Transfer the belly with wire rack into the refrigerator and chill overnight.
3. The next day, 30 minutes before cook time, remove belly from the fridge and cut the belly into 8-12 pieces. Put the pieces into a bowl, add the soy sauce and coat the belly evenly. Pour away the soy sauce. Mix tapioca starch and five spice powder together in a large bowl. Coat the belly pieces evenly and dust off any excess starch. Set aside.
4. To make the Nuoc Cham, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Leave to stand for at least 30 mins before using.
5. To make the Chilli Caramel – in a saucepan, add sugar and water and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until you start to see caramelisation. Add the remaining ingredients into the saucepan. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes then turn the heat off completely. Set aside to cool for use later.
6. To make the apple slaw, mix all the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Set aside.
7. In a wok or pan, heat
the oil to about 170 celsius. Add the coated pork pieces by batches and ensure it doesn’t crowd the pan or wok. Fry the pork and ensure it’s crisp all around for about 7-8 minutes. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and drain on a wire rack.
8. In the same wok or pan, heat up the chilli caramel. Add spring onions, chilli and the fried pork and just coat the pork with chilli caramel for about 20 seconds. Remove the pork and place them in a bowl, pour over the caramel and top with fresh apple slaw and drizzle with nuoc cham. Serve with a side of black vinegar.