Five-spice roast crispy pork belly with apple & sweet potato mash, roast shallots & coriander salsa verde

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Preparation info

  • For

    8

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

Pork belly, roasted like this, is always a favourite at any restaurant I’ve cooked at. I guess people find it hard and fiddly to prepare at home, so tend to eat it when they dine out. Sweet potatoes and apples aren’t naturally occurring bed fellows, but I think they’re a match made in heaven - the sourness from the apples works as a lovely foil to the rich buttery potatoes, and the combination goes so well with the pork. The coriander salsa verde gives the whole dish a South-East Asian feel and the freshness that coriander offers again works well with the fatty belly. At work, leftover trimmings from this get blitzed up in a food processor and cooked out with coconut milk, chilli paste, gapi (shrimp paste) and fish sauce to be served on betel leaves as a tasty canape. Or we cut the trim into cubes and braise it briefly with star anise, soy and boiled potatoes - for the best staff meal ever.

Ingredients

  • 2 kg pork belly, rib bones removed
  • 3 Tbsp five-spice
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 8-16 banana shallots (depending on their size)
  • 4 star anise, roughly crushed
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) sesame oil
  • 45 ml (3 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 700 g potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 700 g sweet potatoes, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 150 g butter
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary (or sage) leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4 Tbsp grain mustard
  • 3 Tbsp capers, drained or rinsed and roughly chopped
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • a small handful of coriander, leaves and stem, shredded

Method

Score the rind and fat of the belly in lines 1 cm or less apart, avoiding cutting down into the flesh. A Stanley knife, or a sharp boning knife is the best thing to use for this - or ask your butcher to do it. Mix the five-spice with 50 g of fine salt and rub this into the skin side of the belly. Place in a deep plastic container or casserole, skin side facing down and leave for 20 minutes in a cool place. Pour on enough cold water to cover by 2 cm (although the belly may float) and place in the fridge for 24-48 hours.

When you’re ready, take the belly from the brine and discard the brine. Turn the oven to 190°C. Line a roasting dish with baking parchment and lay the carrots in it side by side to form a trivet large enough to hold the belly. Sit the belly on top, skin side facing up, pour on 200 ml of water and roast for 2 hours or so, until the skin has bubbled up and become golden and crispy. You can in fact serve the pork at this stage straight from the oven, but what we do in the restaurant is slightly more time-consuming. Place the cooked belly on a clean tray lined with baking parchment, sit a sheet of paper on top of the belly and sit another tray on top. Balance a 2-3 kg weight on top (a few saucepans are good, or some bottled water or canned chickpeas!) to flatten the belly a little, without actually crushing it. Leave it to cool then place in the fridge, minus the weights, and it’ll be ready the next day. At this point the belly will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge. The next day take it from the fridge and cut it into 8-16 even-sized portions - using a serrated knife makes it a lot easier.

Turn the oven to 180°C. Place the shallots in a roasting dish with the star anise, sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then pour in 120 ml of hot water. Roast in the lower part of the oven until you can easily insert a skewer through the shallots - around 45 minutes to an hour. After 20 minutes, you’ll need to cook the pork belly. Heat up a heavy-based pan and drizzle in a few teaspoons of vegetable oil. Place the belly pieces in, skin side down, and cook over medium-high heat until the crackling begins to blister and pop - be careful as it can splatter a little. If the skin side of the belly is uneven and won’t cook as in the photo then simply press it down into the pan using the back of a pair of tongs or something similar. Flip it over and cook for a minute on the flesh side. If you can’t fit all of the pieces into the pan at once then cook them in batches. Tip out any excess fat from the pan, otherwise it will be really smoky in the oven. Place the pan, if it’s ovenproof, into the upper part of the oven (or transfer it to a roasting dish lined with baking parchment) and roast for 30 minutes or so, at which point the skin will be lovely and crisp and the flesh tender.

While the belly is roasting boil the potatoes and sweet potatoes in a pot of lightly salted water until cooked - you can also make this using only kumara. Once cooked, drain and return to the pot. While that’s cooking heat the butter in a pan and cook to a nut-brown colour. Peel the apples if you want to (it’s not necessary) and cut into quarters. Remove the seeds and chop each quarter into 4-5 chunks. Add to the nut-brown butter along with the rosemary, put a lid on, and cook over medium heat until the apples have stewed down and most of the juice has evaporated, stirring from time to time. Mash this into the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.

To make the coriander salsa verde, mix the mustard into the remaining olive oil along with the capers, lime zest and juice and a little salt, then stir in the coriander.

To Serve

Divide the mash and the roast shallots amongst your plates and place one or two chunks of roast pork belly alongside, then simply drizzle with the salsa verde and any roasting juices from the roast shallots.