By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from The River Cottage Meat Book – Serves 6
A fine example of the great versatility of pork belly and the slow-cooking technique, this time using aromatic oriental flavourings. This is authentic Chinese home cooking of a kind rarely found in restaurants.
1.5kg pork belly, with the rind on.
About 1.5 litres pork or chicken stock, otherwise water
12 spring onions
100ml light soy sauce
75ml Chinese rice wine
25ml rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Demerara or soft light brown sugar
3 star anise
10cm piece of fresh ginger root peeled & sliced into rounds.
A good pinch of dried chilli flakes.
Remove the bones from the pork belly and cut it into rectangular chunks, about 2.5cm x 5cm.
Put them in a large pan, pour over enough boiling water just to cover, then bring back to the boil.
Simmer gently for about 5 minutes, skimming off the scum that rises to the surface, then drain through a colander.
Rinse out the pan if necessary, return the pork to it and pour over enough boiling hot stock (or water) to cover it again.
Cut 5 of the spring onions in half and add to the pan with the soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar, sugar, star anise, ginger and chilli flakes. Stir well and bring back to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover tightly and simmer very slowly for about 2 hours, turning the meat occasionally until the pork is very tender, soft and succulent.
Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Strain the cooking liquid into a clean pan, ideally through muslin or a fine chinois.
Skim off as much fat as you can (but don’t worry about leaving a little), then boil the stock hard to reduce and concentrate the flavours.
It should be lightly syrupy and intensely aromatic but don’t over-reduce as the soy sauce may make it very salty.
Meanwhile thinly slice the remaining spring onions on the diagonal. Return the pork to the sauce and heat through.
Serve over plain noodles in warmed soup bowls, with plenty of the broth ladled over and the sliced spring onions scattered on top of the meat.