crispy pork belly with plum sauce

Bill Granger

This is a great dish to make the day before — you can precook the pork, then heat it through and crisp it up.

serves 6 people

for the pork belly
100g salt
50g sugar
1 tbsp Chinese five spice
1kg pork belly, trimmed of bones

for the plum sauce
40g palm sugar
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
30ml fish sauce
20ml rice-wine vinegar
3 plums, cut into pieces
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 green chilli, finely sliced
1 bunch of mint, picked
1 bunch of coriander, picked

Mix the salt, the sugar and the five spice together and rub all over the meat. Leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours, then wash off the mixture and pat dry. Heat the oven to 180C (200C non-fan). Place the pork skin side down on greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Seal completely with 2 layers of tinfoil and cook for 2½ hours.

Leave to cool, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Weigh it down, so it becomes more compact and firm. Remove the pork from the paper and pierce the skin all over with a skewer. Trim the edges so you have a neat rectangle.

Heat the oven to 180C (200C non-fan). Warm a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Put the pork into the pan skin side down, turn the heat to low and crisp up the skin evenly. When crisp, turn the pork over and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until warmed through.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by crushing the palm sugar into a paste with the garlic and finely chopped red chillies in a pestle and mortar; mix in the lime zest, fish sauce, rice-wine vinegar and 40ml water.

Remove the pork from the oven and from the pan, but retain the juices in the pan. Set the pork aside in a warm place, covered.

Place the plums in the pan and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sauce and the sliced red and green chillies.

Cut the pork into squares and place on a serving platter. Pour the cooked plum sauce over and around the pork belly and garnish with the herbs.