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