Amazing soft flavourful Braised Pork Belly with a refreshing slaw and the story of hard times in Sumatra
Braised Pork Belly with Black Vinegar and Asian Slaw
The first time I went to Indonesia I travelled to Sumatra. Sumatra is not an easy place to travel, its not Bali and far from any idea of luxury , but for some reason I decided it would be a great adventure and so I dragged my younger sister ( who had never travelled any where) along and we flew into Medan . Sumatra, West of Java in Indonesia is the sixth largest island in the world, a wild place of some 50 million people speaking around 52 tribal languages. It’s a place where there are still hunter gatherer tribes and very uncomfortable bus journeys!
We headed south towards Parapat where we wanted to visit the Batak people of Lake Toba ( well at least I did) . My sister was having trouble adjusting to life on the road. A road where you had to watch your back. Everyone seemed friendly, but mostly had ulterior motives, that seemed to involve unburdening us of our cash . We were like One Direction, (minus the screaming) every where we went we were met with yelling, the whole family coming out of the house to stare, people on buses openly ogling, surrounding us and pointing, oh it was hard work. ( Plus my sister couldn’t find a power point to plug her hair dryer in! …(maybe I should say that she is tall with long blonde hair- not exactly inconspicuous ).
After stopping in a small town to break up the journey, we were shocked to discover that the Hotel Manager was selling tickets for a peek through our keyhole ( the old fashioned kind with the large key). We heard the door rattle and there was a crash. When we opened the door, a poor hapless audience participant had fallen against the door while kneeling to peek. The alarm on the faces of the others waiting in the line, snaking down the staircase of the two story hotel was evident. We had opened the door so quickly no one had time to run. That night we made use of vegemite and a piece of toilet paper to cover the key hole.
Lake Toba was still a 4 hour journey by bus away. We were looking forward seeing the Lake and to resting on the ( evidently) beautiful relaxing Samosir Island in the middle of the Lake…… and what a story that is…..
In the meantime, I think you might like Braised Pork Belly. If you think you may not be able to roast the perfect pork belly …..well dont, make this instead. It is no less fatty, but it is entirely as delicious. I based this recipe on John’s from he needs food
The best thing about this is you just have to have a little bit to be satisfied The rice and the fresh crunchy salad are perfect with it.
- 500 gm Pork belly (skin removed -optional, and cut into 3cm -2in pieces)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 40 gm caster sugar (2 Tablespoons)
- 60 ml Shoaxshing Chinese cooking wine or medium sherry
- 20 ml light soy (1 tablespoon)
- 40 ml dark soy (or if you can only get salty soy like Kikoman use 2 Tablespoons total )
- 20 ml sesame oil (1 tablespoon)
- 70 gm brown sugar (1/3 cup)
- 125 ml Asian black vinegar (Chiakiang is best, 8 Tablespoons)
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 30 gm grated ginger (2 tablespoons)
- 10 gm teaspoons sesame seeds to serve
- ¼ Chinese cabbage (finely shaved)
- 6 snow peas julienned or cut in strips
- 1 cup picked coriander
- 1 cup mint leaves picked
- 1 cup green shallots sliced finely
- 80 ml lemon juice (1/3 Aust cup)
- 40 gm sugar (2 tablespoons)
- 20 ml sesame oil (1 tablespoon)
- 60 ml light soy sauce (3 Tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- Sliced chilli ( to taste)
- Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade and toss the pork in this. Put into a container and refrigerate overnight or as long as you have.
- When ready to cook . Drain the pork and keep the marinade for cooking.
- Heat a fry pan or wok add a little bit of oil and fry the pork on high till golden and coloured. Work in batches and drain each batch on absorbent paper as you go
- Put all of the fried pork into a heavy based saucepan and add the sugar, ginger, garlic , marinade, vinegar and enough water to just cover.
- Cook on low until the pork is tender ( around an hour)
- The liquid can be reduced further, if there is a lot. Skim the top for fat and add more vinegar or sugar as needed. Ideally the remaining sauce should be reduced by just over ½.This can be refrigerated and some of the fat removed before reheating if you like.
- Toss all of the vegetables for the salad together, and dress just before serving
- Mix the sugar, lemon soy sesame oil and ginger and toss through the coleslaw. Season with salt
- Serve the pork with rice and salad
Most Pork belly pieces are 1 kg or larger so doubling the recipe for 1 - 2 kg is more than enough.