If there’s one dish that brings together my extended family, it’s crispy pork. A celebration doesn’t feel right without it – so much so that a roast pig has made an appearance at the last two consecutive Pang weddings. In the last few days of my father’s life he could barely even string a sentence together, yet he still managed to request a meal of crispy pork and rice, and smiled at the thought of it. The blanching process and initial slow cooking of my recipe will help to get rid of the many solid impurities and excess fat that pork seems to hold in its skin while also softening the meat.
Jeremy Pang’s Crispy Pork Belly
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours
1 x 500g pork belly piece
2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp Chinese five-spice
Place the pork belly piece skin-side down in a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes before removing the meat from the pan. (Some scum may form on the top of the water; it is just some of the impurities and excess fat the pork holds within its skin and will be discarded once the pork is blanched.)
Remove the meat from the pan and run under cold water to cool. Once cool, pat the skin dry with kitchen paper and score gently using the tip of a sharp knife in diagonal “criss-cross” cuts along the top of the skin, trying to only open up the fat and not cut into the meat itself.
Dry the skin with kitchen paper once more and rub the salt into it. Rub the five-spice onto the sides and bottom of the meat only, not the skin.
Preheat the oven to 130°C/gas mark ¾. Place the pork on a wire rack above a roasting tin skin-side up and roast in the oven for 1½ hours. Now turn the oven up to 230°C/gas mark 8 and roast for a further 30-45 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and crispy all the way through. To judge whether the pork skin is crispy enough, give it a flick with your finger; if the sound is hollow like that from the bottom of a well-baked loaf of bread, then the pork is definitely crispy enough.
Remove the pork from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Turn the pork skin-side down on a chopping board and slice through the skin with a sharp large knife or cleaver, pressing down on the top of the blade to slice through the crackling. Serve.
If you do not have a fan function on your oven, leave the pork out to dry in a cool, dry area of your kitchen for 1 hour before placing in the oven.
Extracted from Chinese Unchopped by Jeremy Pang (Quadrille). Photography by Martin Poole.