Slow-Roasted Tropical Pork Belly


Slow-Roasted Tropical Pork Belly


Spice paste:
30g (2 tablespoons) galangal, peeled
5-6 dried chillies, softened in warm water
3 cloves garlic, peeled
5 shallots, peeled
2 stalks lemongrass, outer layer removed, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Enough water to help blend the paste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.5kg (around 3.3lbs) pork belly, skin scored
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tamarind pulp, dissolved in 1 cup warm water and strained
3/4 - 1 cup chopped gula melaka (palm sugar)
1 cup chicken stock or water
2 cups pineapple cubes
2 cup cherry tomatoes

Preheat oven to 180C.

First, make the spice paste by grinding up all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. 

Grab a shallow cast iron pot (or something similar that works on the stove and in the oven) and place it over a medium heat. Add the vegetable oil, then the spice paste, and sauté until fragrant and cooked.  Pour in the stock or water and stir to combine.

Add the tamarind juice and gula melaka to the pot, stirring to dissolve. You could start with less of both these ingredients and add more at the end to taste. Turn the heat off.

Place the pork belly, skin side up, into the sauce. Pat the skin dry and massage the salt into the scored skin. Add a little water if you need to, just to cover most of the meat, but don’t let the liquid touch the fat and skin!

Put the pork belly into the oven, and let it bake for around 3 hours in total. 30 minutes before it’s done, add the pineapple cubes and cherry tomatoes to the liquid around the pork. 

If the skin isn’t crisping up quite enough, you can turn the heat up to 220C right at the end. Conversely, if the skin is browning too fast, you can turn the heat down to 170C or even 160C while it cooks. And if it’s looking a little dry, just add a little liquid while it’s roasting away, but the liquid doesn’t evaporate as much as you think, so be conservative.