Melt-in-the-mouth pork belly in a sticky honey and ginger glaze with a hint of chilli heat: what’s not to love?
Pork belly is such an economical cut and benefits from being cooked slowly and gently. I cook it here in a very fragrant broth for a couple of hours until it is tender before finishing it off in the pan with its sticky glaze.
This dish is a definite crowd-pleaser and, I think, rivals any take-away dish. It is also very easy to make, taking just a few minutes to prepare and then time for the pork to cook slowly in its broth.
Fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime and ginger – used in the poaching broth – make this a particularly delicious dish, but the more convenient jars of lemongrass and ginger purée and dried kaffir lime leaves also work well.
If you can’t get hold of kaffir lime leaves you can leave them out, but if you can get some, they add a delicious flavour and the most wonderful fragrance.
With fresh lemongrass, I normally peel off and discard the tougher outer layers, but here I add these outer layers to the broth where it will still add flavour.
The chopped inner part of the lemongrass will become softer as the broth simmers, making it delicious to eat if using the broth later for a soup: which I often do. See below.
Many ways to serve the pork
Fabulous served with rice or noodles, this pork dish can also be served in a variety of other ways.
Two of my favourite other ways are:
- as a terrific filling for steamed bao buns
- used in place of duck in the pancakes that are typically served with crispy duck and hoisin sauce
Don’t throw away the poaching broth!
The broth used to cook the pork, and flavour it as it gently cooks, is sensational so don’t throw it away: it makes a fabulous soup.
Just remove the outer layers of the lemongrass that were used (keep the tiny pieces of lemongrass, which would have softened) and skim off the fat to give a lean but full-flavoured broth: chilling the broth will cause the fat to set on the surface, which makes it easy to remove.
You can then add chopped chicken (raw strips or cooked pieces), raw king prawns or vegetables of choice: just simmer gently to cook through.
I sometimes set aside a few of the pork pieces and pop them into the broth, where it breaks up naturally as the broth re-heats.
Recipe: sticky ginger and soy pork belly- serves 4
Poached pork belly:
- 8 pork belly slices, about 1cm thick with the rind removed
- 3” piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely grated
- 1-2 chillies, roughly chopped (any variety)
- 1 whole star anise
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
- 2 lemongrass stalks, chopped into smallish pieces
- 4 teaspoons vegetable stock bouillon powder
- 1.5 litres boiling water
- 2” piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely grated
- 2 fat cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped (include the seeds or discard them for a milder chilli kick)
- 4 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons runny honey
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- juice of 1 lime
- 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped or thinly sliced
(1) Put the ingredients for the poached pork belly into a large pan, cover and bring back to the boil. Simmer gently on a low heat for 1½-2 hrs until very tender: to test it is ready, take a piece of the pork and it should fall apart effortlessly.
NB: this can be done a couple of days in advance – just cool it in the broth and pop into the fridge
(2) Chop the pork into bite-sized chunks. Add the glaze ingredients to a large frying pan and add the chopped pork.
(3) Simmer over a medium for about 10 minutes until the sauce reduces and goes sticky, using a spoon from time to time to ensure the top of the pork gets coated.
(4) Scatter over the sesame seeds and serve.