I’m not what you’d call the most dedicated cook. I’m fickle… and probably lazy… and if I read over a recipe and it looks like it’s going to be either long or complicated, or will require me to scour the seven seas for perrywinkles and seaweed extract, I’m unlikely to give it a go.
This dish however… made me look twice.
Whilst browsing through my beloved flickr one day, I came across this outstanding photo from Santos, the talented author of Scent of Green Bananas. She’d been sent a copy of a book by chef Masaharu Morimoto (of Iron Chef America fame), and with some inspiration via Aun of Chubby Hubby, decided to give it a shot.
Now despite reading the recipe and finding out that the pork belly would be cooked for a total of around 10 hours, and would take around 2 or 3 days to complete if you follow the recipe to the letter, I figured that the end result looked too good not to give it a shot.
I won’t rehash the recipe here, you can feel free to get the real deal from Aun, or else go out and buy the book, which sounds like it’s full of a lot of great stuff. I will however give you a blow by blow account of the process I went through to make the whole thing.
Pork belly marathon checklist
- Purchase one slab of boneless pork belly
- Purchase 4 dried scallops (I got mine from Emma’s Yong Tau Foo in Northbridge), not cheap at $150 / kg !
- Purchase sake
- Purchase brown rice (I found some medium grain organic brown rice in Fresh Provisions)
- Sear pork belly on both sides til brown all over
- Place pork belly into an oven safe dish and cover it with water, add 3 cups brown rice to the water
- Cook pork belly for 8 hours in the rice (mine was left overnight, and then cooked for another 8 hours after I realised I didn’t turn the oven on properly… stupid symbols)
- Take the pork belly out of the rice and wrap it up, rest in fridge for 2 days
- Make spring onion oil, by slowly heating vegetable oil with spring onions and ginger.
- Mix rice for congee with spring onion oil, let it sit overnight to absorb the flavour
- Soak dried scallops in warm water til they are flakey
- Take pork belly slab out of fridge, slice it up into squares
- Braise pieces of pork in sake, soy sauce, sugar, and water for 2 hours or so (I also added star anise like Santos)
- Cook the congee using chicken stock, rice, dried scallops, and spring onion (I also added more pork, and a little coriander)
- Let the pork cook until it’s nicely caramelised and falling apart
- Serve the pork over the congee
- Do not accompany it with an aged 1999 Gewürztraminer from Henschke (it will not do it justice)
- Savour the taste of your labour
Remember when you came back to school after that long summer break, and the teacher would ask each of the kids to write a story about what they did on their holidays ? I’d sit there for ages trying to think of good things to say, and ways to impress my fellow 7 year olds with insightful remarks and meaningful events, when I had actually been sitting in my room for 2 months making lego men go to war in space.
These days I’m greatly relieved to discover that the essence of a good holiday is no longer eating as many hot dogs as possible before throwing up on a roller coaster. So our meanderings in the wonderful South West of Western Australia (Augusta and Margaret River to be precise), were just the ticket to ease our way into summer with a little wine, a lot of food, and as minimal exercise as possible.
So in bullet form, the major highlights of the holiday season were:
– Eating too much food on Christmas Day
– Drinking too much wine on Christmas Day
– Cutting half my thumbnail off while chopping vegetables after drinking too much on Christmas Day
– Settling into our new apartment in Northbridge
– Playing Wii !
– Having a low key NYE will Charles Melton Rose and blue cheese
– Going down to Augusta/Margaret River on New Years Day
– Visiting many wineries including Leeuwin Estate, Cape Mentelle, Cullen, Howard Park, Rockfield, Vasse Felix, Moss Wood, Voyager, Woody Nook, and a bunch of others I’m sure I’m forgetting
– Roaming through the caves along Caves Rd, specifically the self guiding Giants Cave
– Cooking coq au vin for 10 people
– Cooking backstrap of venison for 7 people
– Watching kangaroos fight in the paddock outside our holiday house
– Driving back to Perth the long way through Yallingup and Dunsborough
– Stopping for lunch at the ever delicious Lamonts
– Having a swim at Mellup Beach.
– Chilling out at “Summer Daze” and trying to forget that I had to go back to work on Monday.
I hope all of your holidays were great too :)
So yes… That’s right… I have a blog.
Somehow in the crazy mixed up time that is Christmas and New Year and holidays and moving house… I seemed to forget about this little corner of the world.
Not that this post is going to make up for it mind you. It’s just one of those lazy kind of ways to say that I’m still here, and life is good.
It’s also an excuse to introduce you to the newest member of the family, who I have no name for as yet, because the only names I can think of are lame. By deed poll though, he’s Isomac La Mondiale, a modern masterpiece of stainless steel and brass and shininess that has the apartment smelling of wonderful espresso every morning.
More photos of shots and a bit of a review coming soon for the coffee lovers, but this will have to tide you over for now :)