This Caramelised Pork Belly is utterly delicious and really easy to make it’s my Taiwan Inspiration food. This is the easiest way to cook Pork Belly. It has no crispy crackling but it does have the soft unctuous texture that everyone loves about Pork Belly. It also has a sweet caramel exterior and its simplicity is what makes it THE most delicious Pork you will eat.
Here’s an easy way to make Caramelised Pork
If you are freaked out about cooking Pork and you don’t have an oven with mega blitz temperature like me, then this is for you.
I ate several Pork dishes like this a couple of weeks ago when I was in Taiwan as a guest of the Taiwan Tourist Bureau. I got to try all kinds of food and was really surprised about some of the places we visited. After eating some of this Pork belly, I am convinced that cooking Pork isn’t all about having a chunk of crackling…..it’s about this recipe and this type of flavour. I love the pull-apart softness and it’s so so easy to achieve. I got home and had a play around and I can tell you that this is both easy and so very good, you just need to give yourself time to cook it.
This is the dish that inspired me, right here below.
Fusion Cuisine in Taiwan
The first time I ate Pork belly cooked the slow soft way, was at a tiny restaurant in Luadong Township in the North East Province of Yilan (eelan). We visited a small restaurant in an unexpected place, down a lane-way in a rather unexceptional farmhouse, the yard filled with fermenting beans and a lazy dog. This is what is known as a fusion restaurant and there is no menu. The food is created from what is grown in the area or is at the market, menus changing with the season and as ingredients are produced. There were 10 courses for around $550.00 TW / $25 AUS.
There are lots of these in Taiwan, this one was called Guest City and you could get here from town by catching a taxi.
So you think making everything on the menu is only happening in your part of the world? Well, it’s happening in Taiwan too, in fact, it has probably been happening here a whole lot longer.
The proprietor and chef here, Chen Kuo-chang, was once a Veterinary Surgeon. His hobby was cooking and his love of healthy eating and artisan ingredients developed into a small business. He has run this restaurant in his modest home for the past 10 years. Just like a lot of Taiwanese chefs, he makes his own soy sauce, cured meats, and vinegar. This creative chef even makes the crockery and pottery you eat from. It is unpretentious balanced Taiwanese fusion food that is just that, a fusion of Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese elements.
Meet the Chef – My Taiwan Inspiration
A gentle-looking man dressed in a simple cotton outfit came to the dining room to introduce himself and the food. He looks rustic just like the surroundings. The food is placed before us course by course, each small portion with homemade vinegar, broth, or dried and cured ingredient, each food follows another for a specific reason. We start with a cup of Organic Lotus Tea and a soft Peanut Custard with tiny Asparagus Spears. Vegetables feature pretty heavily as you would expect, but I have a weak spot for the third course, soft braised Pork Belly. It has been steamed, then braised for 2 hours in organic homemade soy sauce with dried bamboo sheets and served with organic locally grown rice, the fruity plum vinegar that is served after, cleans and refreshes. It’s served in a small cup and is drunk. This happens in lots of restaurants and it really is a nice digestive. The courses that follow are a beautiful mixture of seasonal ingredients that will feature in a number of restaurants in this area. Mixed perfect mushrooms, clean broths with Winter melon, and in this case aged dried Turnip, a really delicate and rare ingredient here are to follow. A warm egg custard steamed in a hand made pottery cup and topped with bacon jam is soothing. All quite an experience for a person that has been up all night traveling and has been in the country only 5 hours.
Prawns with Bean Curd
Pork Broth with local mushrooms, aged dried Turnip and Broccoli
Egg custard with bacon jam
Now this is how to make the most delicious Pork Belly
Easy Caramelised Pork Belly bamboo shoots coriander
Pork and Masterstock
- 1 Kg Pork Belly
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 620 ml Shaox shing Wine (1 bottle Chinese cooking wine from Asian grocers)
- 1 inch ginger piece sliced up
- 3 cloves garlic 1/2’d
- 1/2 bunch coriander cleaned very well, roots rough chopped
- 3 whole star anise
- 1 piece of cassia bark
- 4 whole stalks green onions washed shallots
- 1 whole mandarin rind / orange or tangerine use the rind only
Caramelised Sauce for Pork
- 4 Tablespoon oil
- 250 gm Palm sugar light coloured and from Asian grocers
- 20 ml fish sauce 1 Tablespoon or more if needed
- 250 ml Master stock – in the drained stock the Pork is cooked
- 1 cup Snow peas sliced
- 225 gm Bamboo shoots 1 cup sliced drained washed. Asian Grocery Stores have these. The taste is quite distinct
- 1 whole chilli chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions shallots
- 2 cups Rice to serve cooked
- Wipe the pork then cut into 6-8 chunks. The skin will be a little tough to cut through so put that skin side down on the cutting board.
- Prepare the ( Master) stock in a large pot by adding the chicken stock, wine, ginger, garlic, star anise, bark, roots, green onion, and peel. Put the pork into the Masterstock and bring up to the boil. Turn right down and simmer for up to 2 hours. Test the meat with a fork after 1 1/2 hours. It should be very soft and tender. Simmer for a further 30 minutes if needed.
- Take the pork out of the liquid and put into the fridge to cool for several hours or overnight. This just cools it enough to make sure it can be caramelised well.
- Prepare the julienne snow peas and wash and drain a small tin of sliced Bamboo and set aside
- Put a skillet or non stick fry pan onto the stove and turn it up to high. It should preferably be big enough to hold all the meat (and later the shoots and peas) You can use a wok too.
- Add the oil and then begin to add the Pork a piece at a time so the heat stays high. Turn the pieces onto all sides browning and caramelising.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the palm sugar and the stock and let the sugar melt and disappear. Add the fish sauce and a sprinkle of salt then stir well trying not to break up the Pork
- Let it simmer to rewarm through the Pork. The taste should be sweet and salty and there should be sauce but it won't be too runny. This is the time to add more fish sauce or salt to taste.
- Add the sliced bamboo, and the chilli if using. Let the pan simmer for 3 or so minutes, and then toss in the snowpeas just until they are warmed. (you can add the lid)
- Sprinkle with green onion and coriander leaves before serving with rice
Have you seen my story about Picking tea in Taiwan? Read it here
Fermenting Soy Beans for Soy sauce
A simple kitchen at Guest City in Taiwan
You can read more about this trip to Taiwan on Sally Hammond’s Website Here