Coffee, star anise & liquorice-braised pork belly & quince with mushrooms

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Preparation info

  • For

    6-8

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

The first time I’d ever heard of cooking pork with coffee was when speaking to an Indian chef who was cooking in a hotel in Guangdong province in China. We were talking about Fusion as a culinary concept and he said that in a country like China, which has such a history to its food, it was often hard for people to adapt to change. But this had all begun to change in recent years as foreign ingredients were arriving in China and young chefs were keen to experiment with them in dishes which had previously been classics, or commonplace. Obviously this can be a good and a bad thing, depending on the palate of the chef, but he said young Chinese were having fun, and that’s got to be good. He also mentioned that he’d cooked a dish of pork with coffee. When I was thinking about a braised pork dish for this book, his dish came to mind, so here’s my take on his dish. I’ve added quince to mine, which I think is a great thing - they have a slightly sour taste and add another dimension of texture to the dish. The coffee beans you use will have a big impact on the flavour of the finished dish - so you’ll need to adjust the coffee quantity to suit your taste - and you can actually stir in an espresso or two at the end which also works really well. This dish goes remarkably well with plain mashed potatoes, as well as with steamed rice and steamed greens.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg pork belly, ask your butcher to remove the rib bones in one piece but keep them
  • 60 g white sugar
  • 6 star anise
  • 6 cloves
  • a few quills of cassia (or 2 cinnamon sticks)
  • 15 g dried liquorice root (or 2 pieces unflavoured liquorice)
  • 2 thumbs of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 onion, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 quince
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) toasted sesame oil
  • 80 ml soy sauce
  • 80 ml black vinegar (or 100 ml Shaoxing wine or dry sherry)
  • 24 roasted coffee beans, roughly crushed
  • 250 g mushrooms (I used shiitake and porcini, cut into large chunks)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced, to garnish

Method

Cut the ribs between the bones and separate them. Cut the belly into large chunks with the skin intact.

Place the sugar in a large pot and cook over a moderate-high heat until it caramelises, stirring from time to time to help it cook evenly. Once it begins to melt, stop stirring and leave it to cook to a dark caramel colour. Add the belly and bones, star anise, cloves, cassia and liquorice and stir it together. Eventually the caramel will melt into the meat. Keep cooking to brown the pork. Add the ginger, garlic and onion, pour on 500 ml water and stir it well and bring to the boil. Wash the quince, rubbing off any furry coating. Cut into quarters and cut out the pips. There’s no need to peel them, but cut them in half again, so that you get eight chunks per quince. Add these to the pot and stir them in, then add sesame oil, soy sauce and vinegar and bring back to the boil. Sit a paper cartouche on top of the mixture and turn to a rapid simmer, put a lid on and cook for one hour. Alternatively, if it’s ovenproof, place the pot in the oven set to 130°C.

Stir the coffee beans and mushrooms into the stew. There should be lots of simmering juices - add some extra hot water if it needs it.

Cook for another 20-30 minutes, at which point the meat should be tender and the aroma magnificent. Taste for seasoning and serve scattered with the spring onions.