Caramelised pork belly with chilli vinegar

This recipe was adapted from Alvin (from Masterchef) during an invention test. He is a fellow Malaysian like myself. This dish, if cooked correctly, melts in your mouth and taste really good if you have the patience for it.


Serves: 4-6 Preparation time: 20 mins Cooking time: 1 hour 30 mins (roughly) Ingredients 8 garlic cloves, chopped 15 black peppercorns, (whole) Peanut oil or sunflower oil (for frying) 2.6L chicken stock 1/2 cup shaoxing wine (or substitute sherry) 1 cup cooking caramel (or substitute for corn syrup) 1 1/2 cup light soy sauce 1/2 cup oyster sauce 1 cinammon stick 1 tsp ground anise (about 2 whole star anise) 1kg pork belly 300g brown sugar 1/3 cup fish sauce 2 tbs lime juice 2 shallots, sliced 5cm piece of ginger, peeled, cut into thin matchsticks Coriander leaves, to garnish For the chilli vinegar dipping sauce: 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

Method

  1. In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and peppercorn to a paste. Heat some oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and fry the paste until fragrant. Add 2L of the chicken stock, shaoxing wine, cooking caramel, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, cinammon stick and star anise.

  2. Bring the boil to a mix, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add pork belly and cook for 1 hour. Remove the pork belly from the stock, drain well and set aside to cool before cutting it into bite-sized pieces, reserving braising liquid.

  3. Pour enough oil into a saucepan to fill it by one third and heat to 180 degrees. Deep fry pork pieces until golden brown and then set aside (Be careful oil will spit when pork is added).

  4. After setting the pork aside, fry the shallots until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on paper towel. Repeat the same process for the ginger.

  5. Add the brown sugar to a saucepan set over medium heat and cook (tilting pan off the heat to help the sugar melt) until sugar starts to caramelise. Add 1 cup of the reserved braising liquid, fish sauce and lime juice. Increase the heat to medium-high and reduce the sauce by 1/3, then add pork pieces.

  6. To serve, combine the sliced chilli with the vinegar in a bowl. Garnish the pork with the crispy shallots, crispy ginger, and coriander leaves.Last but not least, serve it with rice.

Note: *With the chicken stock, you can either buy the pre-made ones or make it from scratch. *You can buy shaoxing wine, cooking caramel, oyster sauce and rice wine vinegar from your local Asian groceries. *I found that 1 cup cooking caramel was way too much so I only used 1/2 cup of it. Cooking caramel is mainly used to add colour to dishes. *If you are wondering where you can get pork belly from, the best place would be your local Asian groceries. *When frying the pork, use the saucepan lid to protect yourself from the spitting oil.

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