Macau ‘Portuguese’ Baked Rice

Following on from the previous post on Macau/Portuguese Custard Tarts I would like to share with you another dish from Macau, China.

Macau Baked Chorizo and Chicken Rice

Macau ‘Portugeuese’ Baked Chorizo and Chicken Rice

This ‘Portuguese inspired’ dish is well known throughout Macau and Hong Kong but will probably never be found in Portugal! It’s similar to a pilau,  paella or risotto, as it is mainly based but flavoured with spices and containing some form of meat/fish and vegetables. There are lots of variations to this dish but they are usually topped with grated cheese and finished off in the oven to get the crispy top. Cheese and rice may sound a little strange at first, but then again isn’t parmesan a main ingredient in the finishing of a risotto?

So this is my mum’s recipe, not sure where she got it from though… It makes enough for 6-8 people!

You’ll need 3 pans, one large casserole dish, one medium saucepan (for the chicken) and one large saucepan (for the rice)

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken leg quarters
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 10 whole cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 250g spicy chorizo (chopped into 1cm rounds)
  • 2 medium white onions (chopped into small pieces)
  • 2 tsp Oil
  • 300g white rice (washed and ready to steam)
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 100g grated cheese ( I used extra mature coloured cheddar)

 

Method:

  • Put chicken legs , bay leaves , a pinch of salt and the cloves in a covered pan of boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes then turn off the heat, leaving the pan to one side so the chicken soaks up the flavours of the stock. The chicken should be left to steep for at least 2 hours so it takes in the flavours. Start preparing the next step…
  • In a large sauce pan sauté the white onions for a couple of minutes in the cooking oil then add the chopped chorizo and sauté for a few minutes. The paprika from the chorizo will colour the onions nicely and the chorizo fats will also start coming out. This is good as it will help to colour and flavour the rice.
Sauted Chorizo and White Onions

Sauted Chorizo and White Onions

  • Add the washed rice to the chorizo and onion mix and enough water so that the rice can be cooked without having to drain left over water out (using the absorption method). Add salt and stir it all up so the flavours are evenly distributed.
  • While the rice is cooking, boil the eggs in their shells. Set the cooked rice and the hard boiled eggs to one side.
  • Return to the cooked chicken. Drain off the liquid discarding the bay leaves and cloves. Shred up the chicken into bite-sized chunks.
  • Fluff up the cooked rice and chorizo and put 1/3 of it into the bottom of a large oven safe casserole dish.
  • Then add 1/3 of the cooked chicken onto of the rice. Repeat the layering of the rice then chicken until you’ve used it all up.
  • Peel the eggs and cut in half  (length ways) and push them into the top of the rice so they are sunken in.
  • Scatter the grated cheese on top of the whole pot of rice and put into the oven to bake. I baked it at 200 degrees C for 15 minutes. The aim is to crisp up the rice at the top and melt the cheese, not to heat everything up as the rice should still be quite hot.
Yummy cheese ready to be melted and crispen up

Yummy cheese ready to be melted and crispen up

 

This dish is a meal in itself, so serve in big bowls for lunch or as part of dinner with some other tasty morsels to pick at. I served this dish in the middle of the table with chicken pot-stickers and the braised duck with pickled cucumber and spring onion pancakes so there was a variety of things to nibble on.

As the chicken is braised over a long time it soaks up the flavours from the loves and bay leaves. The rice takes on the paprika from the chorizo too so this dish is packed with mouth-watering flavour! It seems like a bit of a complicated dish to make but it’s actually quite simple, you just need to be organised with your time! I’ve seen other versions of this recipe that uses duck as the main source of protein, will try this next time…

Macau Baked Chorizo and Chicken Rice

Cheesy, crispy hug in a bowl goodness!

Advertisements

Clandestine Cake Club: Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake

Clandestine Cake Club
Clandestine Cake Cake Club Cake Selection

Clandestine Cake Cake Club Cake Selection

Are any of you Clandestine Cakes Club members? Have you heard of the club before? If not, and you LOVE baking cakes and anything cake related, you have to check it out! The basic premise is that as a member you bake a cake to take to an event, you share the cake with other members and then make new friends over the common interest of cake!

I heard about this secret cake society over a year ago and was super excited with the idea. There are clubs all over the UK, and increasingly all over the world! It was founded in the summer of 2010 by a lady called Lynn Hill from Leeds, Northern England. The mission statement for the CCC is: Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake, now there is nothing wrong with that!

As you all know you can make plans and then life gets in the way so you put things off and then you find that months have gone by and you still haven’t gotten round to doing those things that you really want to do. The CCC is that thing for me! I joined one of the groups but kept on missing out on their meets due to being busy at work or having other things planned. I even baked a cake once and then missed the meeting as I was stuck at work! So this time, I planned way ahead and sent an email to join the January meeting.

There are a few main things to take note of. The venue is a secret until a few days before the event. Once you have signed up to the event, the organiser will send an email to confirm the venue. There is a ‘Cake only Rule’- ‘CCC is not like any other club. You can share a cake, you cannot share a cupcake, Muffin or a Brownie. There is interaction and conversation as soon as you begin to slice a cake, that you don’t seem to get when you pick up a cupcake etc.’ You can also take a guest with you (who can choose to bake or not!).

Each event has a theme to guide your baking and give inspiration. The theme of the event I attended was ‘nouveaux’ -trying out a new recipe or using a new cook book or cake tin etc. The groups are run by volunteers who do it because they love cake and baking. So check out your local group and join one today! On the night there were 15 cakes on offer! A lot of new members so lots of people to chat to and get to know. The tea flowed and we worked our way through all the cakes with the determination to try every single one of them.

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

The recipe I decided to go with was a Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake. Not strictly a ‘new’ recipe for me but a ‘new improved version’ of the cake as I wanted to ensure that the cake would taste nice and I not turn out a total disaster! The cake was well received on the night, although it wasn’t the most attractive cake there. I got lots of comments about the flavour combination and was even asked for the recipe, which is always a good sign! The cake is fairly dense but still moist due to the yoghurt and the lime drizzle. The flavours work really well together and it’s sto easy to do if you have a food processor!

So here it is: (You’ll need a food processor and a small sauce pan)

Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake  (Adapted from ‘Sweet Food’ publised by Murdoch Books)

Ingredients

  • 150g Pistachio nuts
  • 1 tsp Ground Cardamom (about 15 pods)
  • 150g Butter
  • 185g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 180g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 125g Plain Yoghurt
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 tbs Honey

Method

  • Grease and line cake tin (either 20cm round tin or 2lb loaf tin)
  • Place pistachios and ground cardamom in the processor and pulse until just chopped
  • Add butter and flour and caster sugar then pulse for 20 seconds or until crunbly
  • Combine yoghurt and eggs then add to the cake batter before pulsing again for 10 secons or until just combined
  • Bake in oven at 180 degrees C for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
  • In a small pan warm up the lime of the juice and the honey until combined and becomes a sticky syrup
  • Once the cake has cooled a little, pierce it all over with the skewer and slowly pour over the lime and honey mixture as a ‘drizzle’
  • Allow cake to fully cool in the tin

The original recipe contains a lot more sugar and a little less cardamom but I found it way to sweet, so I use honey to make the syrup, and found the cardamom could be stronger, so I have changed the recipe to my taste. The original recipe can be found on this site.

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

I really enjoyed my first event as a Clandestine Cake Club member and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves cake! 🙂

Shine On Award

Shine On Award

An award nomination for me?! I have to say that getting awards in adulthood is much more exciting than when I was a kid! Being someone who was always ‘average’ I hardly ever got awards… However thanks to Dimple at Shivaay Delights I have been nominated for the ‘Shine On’ Award! This brought a huge smile to my face and a warm feeling to my heart as I really felt that the effort I put into this blog has been recognised and appreciated, so thank you Dimple! Dimple makes amazing recipes that really inspire me to widen my repertoire of cooking at home. Please check out her blog, you won’t regret it!

So here are the rules of the Shine On Award:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate up to 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
  5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award requirements.

7 things about me

  • This is my second award on WordPress. I was also nominated for the ‘Dragons Loyalty Award’, that’s two in as many months! 🙂
  • As I write this I am munching on a Krispy Kreme doughnut, naughty but nice!

www.thecattylife.com

  • I’ve been blogging since October 2013 so I’m still fairly new to it all but loving it…
  • I’m Chinese and born in the year of the dog

www.greatwall-of-china-beijing.com

  • I have an aversion to exercise, of any kind!
  • I enjoy gardening and growing my own fruit and vegetables
Courgettes I grew myself!

Courgettes I grew myself!

  • I like to travel and they form some of my happiest memories. My favourite trips have been travelling around East Africa and Thailand.
Masaai Wedding I attended in Tanzania 2009

Masaai Wedding I attended in Tanzania 2009

My nominees are:

Sarah at cheeriosmilkandspoon.wordpress.com

Kim at eatsleepbakerepeat.wordpress.com

Elaine at foodbod.wordpress.com

Jun and Priscilla at homemadeinhk.wordpress.com

amazingbakes.wordpress

AJ at thedessertcourse.wordpress.com

I’ve chosen these fellow bloggers as they have each inspired me in one way or the other; through their writing, passion for their subject matter and inspiring words! Please check them out and see why I recommend them to you too! 🙂

Braised Duck with Spring Onion Pancakes and Pickled Cucumber: A Chinese New Year experiment

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

(Happy Chinese New Year!)

This post is dedicated to everyone who is celebrating Chinese New Year on 31st January 2014! I invited some friends over for a celebratory meal and got a little stuck on what to cook. So I bought a Gressingham Duck crown at the supermarket and this is what I came up with…

Braised Duck with Spring Onion Pancakes and Pickled Cucumber

Braised Duck with Spring Onion Pancakes and Pickled Cucumber

 

Most people will be familiar with deep fried crispy from Cantonese Restaurants all over the world. Deep fried crispy duck is usually made up of shredded duck meat, ‘hoi sin’ sauce, and thinly sliced cucumber and spring onions, all wrapped in a thin wheat pancake. This recipe takes inspiration from this dish but uses other traditional Chinese cooking methods and some of the same flavours. This is a fairly long post, so please stay with me, it’s worth it! 🙂

For the duck, I loosely based the cooking on this recipe for Teochew Braised Duck (Lo Ack/滷鸭) but used a few different ingredients as I didn’t have all of the stated ones. Here’s approximately what I used:

  • 4 star anise
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tbs five spice powder
  • 2 tbs cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 4 inch piece of root ginger smashed up

The method I used was the same as the recipe. However as I cooked it the day before, I left the duck in the braising stock over night in the fridge for extra flavour!

As this recipe slow cooks the duck and doesn’t involve deep frying to get the crispy texture, I thinly sliced the duck meat and got the crispy texture from the pancakes instead…

 

For the pickled cucumber, I drew inspiration once more from one of my favourite cooks, Christine Ho who is my ‘go-to’ cook for Chinese food inspiration. Her recipe for ‘Sweet and Sour Cucumber’ sounded ideal for this dish. I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, although I used one large cucumber so kind of guessed the quantities of the vinegar and sugar! (I used white wine vinegar because that was what I saw in the cupboard first!)

 

Spring onion pancakes

Spring onion pancakes

For the Spring Onion Pancakes, again Christine Ho came to the rescue! These ‘pancakes’ are not the fluffy kind that are usually served for breakfast. Think of them as the Chinese version of a pan-fried flat bread. The dough becomes is flaky and crisp whilst the spring onions give them a subtle ‘oniony’ flavour.  I’ve never made these before but have eaten loads of my mum’s ones before. My mum uses lard in her recipe, as with a lot of Chinese recipes but Christine’s ‘Scallion Pancakes‘ don’t call for it, so I wasn’t too sure how they would turn out…

I followed the recipe but as I wanted to be able to use the pancakes to wrap up the duck meat, I decided to go for much thinner versions. these turned out fairly well but not as flaky as the usually thicker spring onion pancakes. I used ready made hoi sin sauce as I wasn’t even going to attempt it myself!

Braised Duck with Spring Onion Pancakes and Pickled Cucumber

Braised Duck with Spring Onion Pancakes and Pickled Cucumber

Although this dish is time consuming to make due to all the different elements, it is fairly satisfying to roll up these tasty morsels and enjoy them with friends for this special occasion.

The duck was moist and full of flavour, the pickled cucumber was great for refreshing the palate and the spring onion pancakes were crisp enough to add a little crunch but still pliable enough to roll up. Delicious! 🙂

 

Macau ‘Portuguese’ Custard Tarts (Pasteis de Nata)

There are lots of different types of custard tarts all from different countries and cultures, all with a slightly different list of ingredients and cooking method. Yesterday I was reminded of the deliciously buttery ‘Portuguese’ custard tarts I had in Macau, an island of the main land of China, which is an ex-Portuguese colony. Due to the history of the island, Macau is a fantastic place to visit to for it’s Chinese-Portuguese fusion food and exploring the what remains of the colonial town. In contrast, post-colonial Macau is also full of over-the-top 5 star hotels and is said to have a gambling industry seven times the size of Vegas!

These custard tarts are made from a buttery puff pastry and are baked until they are caramelised, almost burnt, on top. Not being able to get the Portuguese custard tarts out of my head, I set about finding a recipe and go to work on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon…

Portuguese Custard Tarts - Pasteis de Nata

Portuguese Custard Tarts – Pasteis de Nata
Flaky puff pastry and not a soggy bottom in sight!

After quite a bit of internet searching, comparing recipes for the original Portuguese recipe and the Macau recipe, I decided to go for the one on allrecipes.com due to the rave reviews and the helpful suggestions on how to adjust the recipe. Luckily for me, most recipes I found called for using ready made puff pastry, so who am I to question this? 🙂

After researching this recipe so much I made some changes to the recipe, so this is the final list of ingredients I used:

  • 300 ml whole milk
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 1 tbs cornflour
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla paste (I don’t have vanilla pods, too expensive!)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 100 g sugar
  • 500g pack of puff pastry

The method I used was pretty much the same so no need to tell you about that!

Mini Portuguese Custard Tarts

Mini Portuguese Custard Tarts

The recipe was for 12 cupcake sized tarts, however I had pastry and custard left over so I ended up making some mini ones too in a mini cupcake pan. Great for little kids who don’t ever finish a whole dessert for themselves…

These tarts are so delicious and buttery, however even though I halved the sugar suggested in the original recipe they were still really sweet! So next time I’ll reduce the sugar event more and maybe add even more double cream to make them extra rich!

Macau Portuguese Custard Tarts

Macau Portuguese Custard Tarts

Since making this recipe, I have come across a  which includes a pinch of salt and a little lemon juice in the custard. Definitely worth a try to balance out the flavours…

Actual Portuguese Tarts bought in Macau (January 2012)

Actual Portuguese Tarts bought in Macau (January 2012)

As you can see from the photo above, there are different versions of the tarts available. I think we bought three custard flavour, two coconut milk flavour and one ‘sharks fin’ flavour from a well known bakery. They were straight out of the oven and I burnt my mouth on them, but boy were they worth it!

Chicken Tikka Potstickers: the dumplings with a twist!

I have previously posted about potstickers/dumplings/gyozas before but for this recipe I have used the basic idea of the potsticker and given it a South Asian twist!

Chicken Tikka Potstickers

Chicken Tikka Potstickers

Chinese potstickers are traditionally served with a milder flavours in comparison to spicy South Asian cooking (as with a lot of Chinese cooking the flavours are simple and subtle) and the dumplings served with a simple dipping sauce, usually based on soy sauce and vinegar. Taking inspiration from the was South Asian samosas are served, I decided to add a little spiciness to the filling of the potstickers as well as serve them with a couple of punchier dips!

Recipe

For the dumplings:

  • 1 packet of pre-made dumpling pastry (I’m too lazy to make my own this time!)
  • 4 skinned and boneless chicken thighs (chopped very finely or minced)
  • 2 tbs Tikka Masala curry paste (or make your own spice marinade)
  • 1 medium cooked potato, crushed (I used left over roasted potatoes)
  • 2 chopped spring onions (can use leeks or onions)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 2 tsp oil (for frying)
  • Boiled water (for steaming)
Potsticker wrapping

Potsticker wrapping

For the Chilli, Mint and Yoghurt Dip

  • 1 cup of natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbs green chilli sauce (I used bottled)
  • 2 tbs mint sauce (I used bottled but you can use fresh mint too!)
  • Salt (to taste)
Mint and Chilli Yoghurt

Mint and Chilli Yoghurt

For the Spiced Tomato Dip

  • 5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbs oil (for frying)
  • Spices (I used 1 tsp each of mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and dried chilli flakes)
  • Curry leaves (a few)
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 0.5 tsp sugar
  • Salt (to taste)
Spiced Tomato Chutney

Spiced Tomato Chutney

Method

For the dumplings:

  • Mix the chicken with the Tikka paste and allow to marinade for a few hours of over night.
  • Mix the raw chicken with crushed potatoes and leeks and add a little salt.
  • Wrap the dumplings using about 2 tsp of filling per dumpling. Line a couple of plates or baking trays with ling film to put the dumplings on to avoid them sticking the plate. make sure the dumplings aren’t touching as they will stuck together. You can also stick them straight into the freezer on the tray/plate then stick them into freezer bags for later use.
  • In a heavy based sauce pan that has a lid or wok, add the oil and warm up. Add the dumplings into the pan, fairly close together, completely filling the pan but with a little space between each dumpling as they expand during cooking. Fry for a few minutes until the bottom of the dumplings have browned a little.
  • Now it is time to cook the filling, so add some water to the pan (about 1 cup), cover with the lid and steam for 5-10 minutes on a low heat (until the filling is cooked through). If there is still water left in the pan, increase the heat to evaporate the remaining water and crisp up the bottoms.
  • The dumplings will stick to the pan (hence the name ‘potstickers’ but with a little care and the help of a fish slice spatula, you can easily lift them out!)
  • If cooking from frozen, no need to de-frost them. Just stick them straight in the pan and steam for an extra 5 minutes.
Potstickers- chicken tikka

Potstickers- Ready for the freezer

For the Chilli, Mint and Yoghurt Dip:

  • Mix everything together and add salt to taste, simple!

For the Spiced Tomato Dip:

  • Dry roast the whole spices and curry leaves in a saucepan
  • Add oil and cook the onions until softened
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, stir and then cook for a few minutes until they are soft and most of the juices from the tomatoes has gone
  • Add the salt, sugar and vinegar and cook for a couple more minutes
  • Taste and allow to cool
Chicken Tikka Potstickers

Chicken Tikka Potstickers

I made a batch of these and froze them for future meals when there is no time to cook or I’m too tired. Today was that day!

The filling was nicely spiced and very much reminiscent of the taste of chicken samosas but a lot lighter since they aren’t deep fried. The potatoes in the filling help to keep it all quite dry so there is less risk of the dumplings bursting, however it also means that dips/chutneys are very much necessary!

The spiced tomato chutney worked very nicely, as the vinegar added a sharpness that lifts all the flavours and brings back in the freshness that you would normally get from a traditional Chinese dipping sauce. Then the minty yoghurt cools everything down… So delicious! I ate at least 10 in one sitting! 🙂

Paneer Curry with Chicken and Cashew Fried Rice

This is a quick post as it’s not my recipe!

Tonight I made a Paneer curry for the first time using a recipe from Dimple’s blog ‘shivaaydelights’. She posted it at just the right time as I had bought some Paneer at the supermarket when thinking of something different I could cook but I didn’t have a tried and tested recipe yet.

image

So tonight I made it and served it with some chicken and cashew nut fried rice. Dimple recommends to serve the dish with Naan bread but I had some left over rice to up. The crunch of the cashew nuts went well with the softness of the paneer. I will definately make this recipe again, the sauce was delicious and would go great with lots of other ingredients too!

image

Chicken and Cashew Nut Fried Rice

I’ve only been blogging for three months now, but I’m really enjoying learning from fellow home cooks and sharing our experiences! 🙂

Thanks Dimple!

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

Wintery weather equals warming soups. I made a version of this soup over the Christmas period as I had a massive bag of carrots to use up, but it ended up tasting lovely so I’ve made it again today with a couple of adjustments. You’ll need one large and one medium sauce pan. a blender and a wooden spoon.

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

Recipe:

  • Toor Dal (2 handfuls)
  • Carrots (500g or about 9 medium ones)
  • Oil (around 1 tablespoon)
  • Crushed garlic (about 5 cloves)
  • Small red onion (use white or shallots, whatever you have in)
  • Spices (I used mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander powder, cumin powder, cayenne pepper and garam masala- about a teaspoon of each or more if you like lots of spice)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Lime (optional- I had one so used it up)

Step 1) Blanch the dal until al-dente in the medium saucepan (I used a pressure cooker). Drain and set to one side.

Toor Dal

Toor Dal (blanched)

Step 2) Chop carrots into small pieces, put into the large pan and cover with enough water so that all carrots are covered. Boil until cooked through (again I used the pressure cooker)

Step 3) As the carrots cook, fry whole spices in oil in the smaller pan and add garlic and onions when the whole spices are fragrant. Once onions and garlic are softened, add powdered spices and salt (I used about 1.5 teaspoons of salt)

Spices, onions and garlic

Spices, onions and garlic (fried)

Step 4) Add the spiced garlic and onions to the cooked carrots (still in the cooking water). Then blend the carrot mixture until smooth. I had to do this in two batches as I only have a jug blender.

Step 5) Put the blanched lentils into the smaller pan that you cooked the spiced onion and garlic mix in, and then add the blended carrot soup. Stir it all up and taste to see if there is enough seasoning. (At this point I added the juice of one lime as it needed to be use up and the soup tasted very sweet, so the lime helps to cut through the sweetness a little).

By keeping the lentils whole and al-dente, it gives a nicer texture to the soup. It has more of a bite and keep you fuller for longer. The Toor Dal I used has an extra earthy flavour which I think adds an extra dimension to the taste, but any lentils can be used! I also used whichever spices I had to hand, so feel free to mix and match the recipe. I’ve also got some cream in the fridge, so may add a sneaky dollop in to add extra richness. 😉

I have portioned up this wholesome spicy soup for office lunches. The longer you leave it in the fridge, the more the flavour develops. This soup took me less than an hour to cook, wash the dishes and eat for lunch today! 🙂

Chinese Five Spiced Roast Belly Pork

Happy New Year!

Since this is my first post of 2014, please forgive me for the lateness of my well-wishes! I hope every had a lovely Christmas and New Year break? For myself, it was full of eating and sleeping! Perfect! I didn’t do much cooking so not much to share, however I did invite some friends and family over for dinner on New Year’s Day and tried my mum’s recipe for roast belly pork for the first time ever!

For those of you who have previously read my blog, you’ll know that I’m not a red meat eater. Those of you who are new to me now know too! So I very very very rarely cook pork, beef, lamb, veal etc. I’ll sometimes eat it, but not out of preference, sometimes out of curiosity. My aversion to red meat isn’t for any religious or dietary reason, just that I don’t particularly like the taste of it so have now developed some kind of psychological dislike of it! However I also used to hate olives, picking them out of my salads and pizza but now I can tolerate them. So maybe my tastes will change as I continue to age…

New Years Day Dinner

So New Year’s Day dinner was a fairly easy going affair. There were 5 adults and 3 children so I made the Wintery Chinese Chicken, Chestnut and Shitake Mushroom Stew earlier on in the day then reheated it just before serving to save on time and last minute stress. The belly pork was prepared the day before and left to marinade in the fridge ready to throw into the oven. Only the Fish (steamed Seabream), Choy Sum (Greens) and Scrambled Tomato Eggs needed to be cooked at the last minute. All were served with bowls of steamed jasmine rice.

Considering that I’ve never cooked pork belly before, I was pretty worried that the crackling wouldn’t be crunchy and would end up chewy. I go the recipe from my mum who makes very delicious roast pork belly (it’s coveted by all my family) and has gotten the recipe perfected. So she imparted her expert knowledge to me, as well as the massive piece of pork that she ‘just happened’ to have in the freezer! How many people would store massive joints of meat ‘just in case’?! Then again, that’s the reason you will never go hungry if you visit my mum’s house, whereas a visit to me needs to announce far in advance so I can go food shopping… 🙂

This belly pork was so huge that it only just fit into the baking tray that is pretty much the width of the oven!

So here is the ‘recipe’ as memorised by my mum so I have no idea where the original recipe is from:

White wine and five spice rub

White wine and five spice rub

1) Get the piece of pork belly and put it skin side down onto a heavy bottom baking tray. Pour over a few tablespoons of white white and rub it into the pork meat. Then sprinkle over a few tablespoons of five spice powder and rub it in.

Coarse Sea Salt Rub

Coarse Sea Salt Rub

2) Turn it over and spread the whole thing with coarse sea salt. That worked out to be half a tub for me! It needs to be completed covered! (I think it helps to dry out the skin to ensure a crispy finish)

Cover loosely with foil and leave on the fridge over night to marinade and soak up all the flavours…

Crispy Crackling!

Crispy Crackling!

3) When you are ready to roast it, crank up the oven to the highest it goes (mine is 250 degrees C). Knock all the sea salt off the meat then stick the tray of meat into the hot oven on a high shelf, roasting the skin until it starts to ‘puff up’ (for me about 15- 20 minutes). Then turn down the heat to 200 degrees C and roast for another 10-15 minutes or until it is cooked through.

Five Spiced Roast Belly Pork

Five Spiced Roast Belly Pork

I’m pretty happy with my first attempt at roast belly pork, I got lots of compliments and the crunching I heard around the table kept my fears at bay. I didn’t actually taste it myself, maybe next time! As we only managed to get through a third of the massive portion of meat, I chopped and wrapped up the left overs for the guests to take home. A novel New Years Day gift I think! 😉