Braised Pork Belly in Fish Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


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In Thailand, as in China, pork is the ‘red’ meat. Being such a mainstay as a source of animal protein and fat, and being rather expensive as well, pork is treated with great respect. By that I mean that every part of it, from snout to trotter and tail, is utilized. The trick is to make it all delicious as well as edible. This is something that the Thais have mastered, as in this delectable pork belly dish. Note: the fish sauce does not impart a ‘fishy’ taste or aroma.

The cooking time is long but not a real bother if you plan ahead. Pork belly requires multiple cooking to render its texture into something enjoyable and to remove its excess of fatty oils. The results are unexpectedly pleasing, and quite delicious with plain rice and vegetables. One bonus is that it reheats nicely and thus may be prepared well ahead of time.


  • 1 kg ( lb) boneless pork belly, with rind
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 600 ml (1 pint) groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
  • 3 small fresh red or green Thai chillies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 225 g (8 oz) tinned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) homemade chicken stock or store-bought fresh stock


Score the rind of the pork belly with a sharp knife. Rub the skin evenly with the salt and allow to sit on a platter for about 1 hour. Then cut the pork belly into ½-inch dice.

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, pan-fry the pork until golden brown and crispy. Remove the pork and drain it in a stainless-steel colander set inside a bowl, leaving behind about 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok.

Reheat the wok over high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, coriander, soy sauce, rice wine, pepper, fish sauce and stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the drained pork. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the pork is tender. Transfer the pork and sauce to a warm platter and serve at once.