Crispy Pork with Chilli

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Throughout most of Southeast Asia, pork is thoroughly enjoyed – and I mean savoured – from trotters to snout. In recipes such as this, everything depends upon the cooking technique and the seasonings even more than usual.

In this, one of my favourite Thai dishes, pork belly provides a prosaic foundation for a special treat. The pork is cooked twice so that it is at once both crispy and slightly chewy, with the taste of chilli and other spices in each morsel. It makes a delicious meat dish, and a complete meal with just plain rice and some vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 1.4 kg (3 lb) boneless pork belly, with rind
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 600 ml (1 pint) groundnut (peanut) oil, for deep-frying
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons finely sliced shallots
  • 3–4 large fresh red or green Thai chillies, seeded and sliced
  • 225 g (8 oz) tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) homemade chicken stock or store-bought fresh stock

Method

Score the rind side of the pork with a sharp knife. Rub the rind side with the salt and let it stand for 1 hour. Then cut the pork into long strips.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, deep-fry the pork until it is crisp and brown (cover the wok to prevent splattering). Remove and drain on kitchen paper. When cool enough to handle, cut the pork into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces. Drain off most of the oil, leaving tablespoons in the wok. Reheat the wok and when it is hot, add the garlic, ginger and shallots and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the chillies, tomatoes, fresh coriander, fish sauce, rice wine, pepper, stock and browned pork bits. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat, transfer to a warm serving platter and serve at once.

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