The Chinese Grand Prix – Red Cooked Belly Pork

So the F1 season has continued on around Asia and today it was China’s turn to host.  Since it was another early morning race I decided to break with my tradition of the previous two and eat my themed meal a little later in the day (for lunch!).  I did however still cook something inspired by the host nation – red cooked belly pork.  This dish, although fairy quick to prepare, benefits from a long time cooking and so I started it early, leaving it to bubble away throughout the morning.

The recipe I used is an old BBC one, I had once cooked it for a Chinese new year pot luck dinner and was informed by a Chinese person present that it tasted pretty authentic.  I, along with everyone present, enjoyed eating it then and it was just as good this time round.

The recipe calls for 1kg of pork belly, however I only had 750g so I scaled down the recipe accordingly.  Things start off simply enough by blanching the pork belly  in boiling water for 5 minutes, apparently to remove excess fat. I’m a bit dubious about that particular claim, because it doesn’t appear  that any fat comes out into the water.

Boiling the pork

I then drained the pork, allowed it to cool so that I could handle it (I actually shoved it in the freezer for a bit to speed the cooling up) then removed the skin and slicing it into small pieces.   These pieces were then browned in batches in some groundnut oil.

Browning the meat

Once all the pieces were cooked the recipe says to once again remove the excess fat leaving about 2 tablespoons worth in the dish, but there wasn’t even that much in my pan so I left it alone. Maybe I didn’t add enough oil myself, or had very absorbent pork pieces!.  The next step was to add the sugar to the pan (about ¾ tablespoon in my case) and allow this to brown before adding chicken stock.  You need to be very careful adding the stock, the pan and sugar get very hot and so you get a lot of steam as you pour it in (I managed to steam the side of my hand unfortunately)

Browning the sugar

To the stock mix I added a teaspoon of ginger paste, a stick of cinnamon and a star anise.  I then returned to meat to the pan and added 100ml of dark soy sauce.  The final addition should have been Shaoxing wine, but I didn’t have any.  I also didn’t have any of the suggested alternative of dry sherry so in the end I went for a tablespoon and a half of port and tablespoon and a half of maderia.  The lid then went on and everything simmered together for 2 hours.

Ready to simmer for 2 hours

After two hours the lid comes off so that the sauce can start to reduce.  I gently simmered everything for half an hour until the liquid had become thick and syrupy, clinging to the pork.  Once things were reduced I added four sliced spring onions to the mix.  While the sauce was reducing I put on some rice and peas to accompany the dish and when everything was ready I served it all up.

All served up

The pork was meltingly soft and succulent.  The sauce is rich and salty and very addictive.  There isn’t much sauce by the time it all reduces, but a little goes a long way.  The spring onions were a bit lost to be honest and I don’t think I would miss them if they weren’t there.  The rest though was divine.  I enjoyed eating this dish a lot!

The race itself was another exciting spectacle.  Vettel got mugged on the start, Button forgot where his pit box was and Webber had a storming race to make it onto the Podium from 18th.  The race was deservedly won by Hamilton with some brave overtaking and great strategy.

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2 Responses to “The Chinese Grand Prix – Red Cooked Belly Pork”

  1. Greedy Rosie Says:

    Is it Turkey for the next one or am I dreaming that? I never thought of making themed meals for the dates but its a great idea.
    Red cooked pork is one of my favourite chinese meals, actually.
    Do you want to see mine? http://www.greedyrosie.net/2010/12/30/red-braised-pork/

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