Pork Belly with Orange & Ginger

When I’m out for dinner and there’s pork belly on the menu, I’ll probably end up ordering it. Although it’s traditionally a very fatty cut of meat, it can be one of the most rewarding cuts to eat: tender like a cloud, filled with flavours from heaven. My husband gave me one of Reuben Riffel‘s cookbooks (Reuben Cooks) as a present for my birthday a few years ago. His recipe for “braised pork belly with ginger-caramel sauce” is just dreamy, and I have used it as inspiration to cook many a pork belly in my kitchen over the past few years. Reuben uses a combination of stock, orange, soy, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, peanut oil and brown sugar to braise his pork belly, which he tops off with a caramel sauce infused with chillies, lime, fish sauce and ginger. My recipe is a lot simpler, but still delivers big time on intensely aromatic Asian flavours.
It is imperative to cook the pork belly long enough to ensure a really tender result (Reuben cooks his for 4 hours at 160 degrees Celsius), but one of my recent new “tricks” is to cut the pork belly into thick slices before cooking it, thus ensuring a much shorter cooking time (about 2 and a half hours at 160 degrees Celsius). I also choose a smoked boneless pork belly with as little fat as possible, ending up with a tender, meaty roast. Perfect as canapés, starters or a main course.

Pork belly with Orange and Ginger:

  • 1 kg smoked, boneless pork belly
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • rind (peeled) of 1 orange
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 T grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Steps

  • Step 1

    Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  • Step 2

    Using a sharp knife, score the fat side of the pork belly diagonally into diamonds of about 1 x 1 cm (just a few mm deep).
  • Step 3

    Now cut the pork belly into strips of about 2 cm thick, keeping the slices together.
  • Step 4

    Place the sliced pork belly (fat side up) into a rectangular roasting dish that fits the pork belly snugly, but make sure that the slices aren’t packed too tightly against each other.
  • Step 5

    In a mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, rind, star anise, ginger, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and sugar. Pour over the belly – it should just come up to the sides but not cover the fat side completely.
  • Step 6

    Roast for 2 and a half hours, then remove from the oven. The fat side should be dark and golden, but not too crispy – if you like yours very crisp then turn up the heat and grill the top for a few minutes (this is optional, I rarely do it).
  • Step 7

    Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies like broccoli or spinach. The braising sauce can also be served, but it is optional.