It has been a busy past two weeks. Meetings, eye examination, getting new spectacles, the horrific traffic around Bandra Fair, the ‘sedition’ by Aseem Trivedi, the diesel price hike and now the slew of reforms by the Government. Phew!
On to matters far less important and much more enjoyable. Food.
Unless you are a Jain, Khandelwal or Shah or Muslim or Jew, or to come to think of it living under a stone, you must be reading that every expensive [frequented by Page 3 folks] restaurant in Mumbai is serving Pork Belly. Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Table, Amadeus, the newly opened Umane and Ellipsis all serve versions of Pork Belly. Pork Belly is a cheap cut of meat which when cooked results in a delicious dish and a huge mark up for the restaurant. No wonder every restaurant is selling Pork Belly.
Pork Belly is widely available in Mumbai. Most cold stores [funny we call them Cold Storage here while they are actually butchers] have Pork Belly. As I have said it’s cheap and very very forgiving to cook. Pork Belly is a fatty cut of meat and slow cooking is the only sensible way to cook this. The fat which renders keeps the meat really tender. It is really simple to cook. I have given you a recipe for cooking Siu Youk Pork, the Chinese Crisp Pork Belly. You could also make the famous Red Cooked Pork which is so delicious and so simple to cook.
We had a kilo of Pork Belly which we wanted to cook. I did not want to make it in a Chinese/Oriental style so I decided to trawl the Internet to get a suitable recipe. I came across one from the peerless Gordon Ramsay. Looking at it, I realised it was simple, required no tricky ingredients and was simple to make.
A quick visit to Pali Market was required to buy a head of Celery, a single leek and some thyme. That was it as far as exotic ingredients go. Yes, you do need some Madeira which is a sweet wine. I find that the good old Vinicolas Port Wine is an excellent substitute for Madeira. I normally have a bottle at home to cook with. Keeps for years and costs next to nothing.
This is a very tasty dish. Do try it.
Here is the recipe
Braised Pork Belly
1 kg Pork Belly, rind removed and boned
1 leek white and pale green part finely sliced
2 Celery Stalks finely chopped
1 Onion medium chopped
1 clove Garlic minced
2 Star Anise
2 Bay Leaf
50 ml light Soy Sauce
500 ml water
125 ml Madeira [Port wine fine]
Lay the belly down and sprinkle with salt, pepper and Thyme. Next you roll the Belly like a Swiss Roll or Patrel [Alu Wadi] and tie it with some string to prevent it from unravelling.
Add a dash of oil to a tall pot with a lid and quickly brown the rolled up pork belly. No need to cook it, just get some colour on the outside.
|Belly rolled, tied and browned|
Once it’s beautifully browned remove it and add the chopped vegetable i.e. the Leek, Celery, Onion and Garlic. Once the vegetables are softened add the Soya Sauce, Wine and water. Add the meat, cover the pot and cook on a super low flame for 3 hours. Super low flame is important; if it boils too furiously you will end up with a very cloudy sauce.
|Pork, Vegetables and the liquids added ready to be placed in the oven|
Yes, 3 hours. If you have an oven, pop the whole thing into and oven at 130 degrees Centigrade or 225 Fahrenheit for 3 hours.
Once done remove the Belly and cool the sauce. Strain the sauce and place it in a pan to reduce to a nice consistency. It should become slightly syrupy much like a cough syrup. Please do not add any salt until you have reached the consistency you want or else the sauce will become very salty as it reduces.
Once the Belly is cooled slice it into thick slices, remove the string and fry the Belly slices in a pan for a couple of minutes till they are Golden. Pour the sauce over and eat the Belly with some Mashed Potato.