Gateway pork: Chinese pulled pork belly

Pulled pork belly fried rice

I'd never get a job in a Chinese restaurant. Sure, I think I'd be a skilled and dedicated employee. I'd work well in a team but have the initiative to work independently, I'd be goal-oriented, and many other job interview clichés would also apply to me. But my biggest weakness wouldn't be perfectionism. No, it would be licking every surface that has come into contact with char siu pork. Fingers, knives, it doesn't matter. That sticky glaze is a drug.

There are plenty of good recipes around for char siu pork, most of them calling for pork shoulder, loin, or even neck. While all I had was pork belly which requires long, slow cooking, I wasn't about to go without the sweet, aromatic flavour of char siu. So like a crack pipe fashioned out of a used spark plug, I improvised this recipe for chinese pulled pork belly. You could eat this simply with rice, stuffed inside a pork bun, or as I had it above in fried rice.

Chinese pulled pork belly

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of chopped spring onion
  • 1/4 cup of hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp of shaoxing cooking wine
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1.5 tsp of chinese 5 spice powder
  • 2 tsp of rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • 800 gram piece of pork belly, skin removed

1. To make the marinade stir together all of the ingredients except the pork belly.
2. Pierce the pork belly all over with a metal skewer or the end of a sharp knife. Rub the marinade over the pork and leave in the fridge overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 140ºC/285ºF. Cook the pork belly with all of its marinade, covered, for 3-4 hours or until completely tender. If the marinade pooling in the baking dish looks like it's over-reduced and is going to burn, add a few more tablespoons of water.
4. Remove from the oven, and pull the meat apart in the baking dish with two forks. Stir to coat the meat in cooked marinade and return to the oven. Uncover, turn the heat up to 200ºC/395ºF and cook for around 15 minutes to start deeply caramelising the edges (watch it doesn't burn).

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