I came across this recipe via Ottolenghi’s Instagram account, and the entire recipe is helpfully on The Guardian’s website. The prospect of juicy pork belly with crispy crackling always entices me, but that sauce reminiscent of a Filipino pork adobo was what clinched it for me. It was salty, sweet, tangy and had a wonderful umami richness all in one go. Those apples cut through the sauce and worked so well with the meat. Have it with plain boiled rice as Ottolenghi recommended, and drench the carbs with that beautiful sauce.
Here’s the link, but also below is what I did to change it up a bit (both on purpose and by accident!).
As per my usual, I made some changes to the recipe. I used 550g of pork belly joint instead of 800-900g, simply because it was all the supermarket had, but cooked it for the same amount of time. That amount fed both of us very well for a meal. Before cooking, I dabbed the skin dry, cut crisscross marks in the skin and salted it before letting it air dry for an hour. I used two apples instead of three, and cut them into eight chunks each. I made the same amount of sauce and I’ll be using the leftover sauce to stir-fry some noodles with. After roasting the pork I grilled it under medium high heat for about 20 minutes to crisp up the skin as well.
Alas, I made a huge mistake of using 250ml of apple cider vinegar instead of 70ml (having misread the recipe), and had to then salvage it with 4 tbsps of sugar and a few dashes more of soy sauce than the 90ml in the recipe. It still turned out well luckily, albeit a little tangier than intended but still delicious!
Roast pork belly with apple, soy and ginger
1 whole pork belly joint (800-900g), boneless
Fine sea salt
1½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled, halved and cut into 12 half-wedges
12 garlic cloves, peeled
40g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 whole star anise
3 bay leaves
90ml soy sauce
250ml chicken stock
250ml unsweetened apple juice
70ml apple cider vinegar (try 100-140 ml, or even 250ml if feeling brave!)
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
2 medium Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored and cut into eight chunks each
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- Prepare the pork. Using a kitchen towel, dab dry the skin. Use a sharp knife to score the skin of the pork in a crisscross pattern, then rub a teaspoon of fine sea salt into the skin. Leave to air dry for an hour.
- Prepare the sauce. Preheat the oven to 185 degrees Celsius/165 degrees Celsius fan. Heat a wok over medium high heat with the oil. Stir fry the onion for about three minutes to soften. Then add the garlic, ginger, star anise and bay leaves and stir again for another three minutes. Add the soy sauce, chicken stock, apple juice, vinegar, sugar and peppercorns and bring to a boil. If you’ve used extra vinegar, taste it and add more sugar if needed.
- Roast the pork. Transfer the sauce to a roasting dish and place the pork on it, taking care not to submerge the skin. If the sauce is coming up too high, then use a small metal wire stand so the pork rests on it. Keep the skin dry at all times. Roast for 90 minutes. You can now remove the wire stand and place the apples under the pork to support it. Roast for another 30 minutes.
- Make the crackling. Heat a grill to medium high heat. Place the entire dish with the pork and sauce under the grill. Keep moving the pork around and adjust the position every few minutes to ensure the skin is evenly crisp. This will take about 20 minutes.
- Remove the pork and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice the pork and place it in a bowl of the sauce. Sprinkle over sliced spring onions and serve.