Noble Savage (he said):
So this one is ridiculously easy. Seriously, if you fuck this one up, maybe you should stay away of the kitchen/society in general.
Let’s start with the five spice. Even though it doesn’t have a strong taste, the smell is unmistakeable. Obviously, it originated in China, and is used in many Asian and Arabic dishes. It is mostly suited for fatty dishes like duck, and works well with pork belly.
The spice itself is made up of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. If you feel that you have to prove yourself, you can assemble the mix yourself, but it’s much easier to just go and buy it. It’s increasingly available in “western” shops, but I prefer to get mine from the shops in Cyrildene (it probably doesn’t make a difference; it just feels more authentic).
Pork belly, bone in (cater for about 300g per person)
1 Tbsp five spice
1 Tbsp olive oil
Start with pouring boiling water on the skin of the pork belly. This will help to tighten the skin, which makes it easier to score (or just buy it pre-scored). Score the skin the way you like, being careful not to cut into the meat – you don’t want to lose any of the juices. Rub some coarse salt into the score grooves. Then, flip the pork belly over, and make a few shallow cuts on the meat side. Mix the olive oil and five spice, and rub it over and into the meat side of the pork belly. Don’t put the rub on the skin side – crackling and five spice don’t really mix.
Next, put the pork belly in the fridge for at least three hours. This will help the rub to properly flavour the meat. Heat your oven/gas braai/Weber to 220°C. Once ready, put the pork belly skin side down, and roast for 15 minutes.
(With pugs getting a little impatient on the side)
Flip it skin side up, and roast for another 25 – 30 minutes until the skin starts to crackle. Finally, give it a quick blast under the grill or over hot coals/gas on the skin side for that perfect crisp – just be careful not to burn it.
The last step is to let the meat rest for about 10 minutes. And that’s all there is to it.
We served it with a Japanese noodle salad, but if the weather’s a bit chillier, you can serve it with mash. As with many Asian dishes, you do not want a heavy, robust wine to overpower the meal – stick to a chilled Riesling for best results.