SLOW-COOKED RED-BRAISED PORK BELLY WITH CARROTS, EGGS & SHALLOTS
With a bowl of steamed rice, this Chinese casserole-style dish provides a delicious, flavoursome and substantial meal during cooler months. It can be made the day before then simply reheated to serve.
3.5 litres red braise master stock (see below)
450g free-range boneless pork belly, skin on, at room temperature, cut into 2cm pieces.
4 free-range eggs, at room temperature
3-4 carrots, halved if large
4 red shallots, peeled but left whole
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp malt vinegar
¼ tsp sesame oil
For the red braise master stock
4 spring onions, trimmed and halved
80g ginger, thickly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
4 strips (about 6cm x 1cm) orange peel, white pith removed
8 star anise
4 cinnamon quills
375ml (1½ cups) light soy sauce
250ml (1 cup ) shao hsing wine
185g (1 cup) lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
3 litres cold water
1. Make the red braise master stock (see recipe below) in a large stockpot that will later fit the pork, eggs, carrots and red shallots.
2. Meanwhile, place pork belly in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then drain. This will remove any impurities from the meat.
3. Place eggs in a small saucepan of boiling water and cook for seven minutes (or eight minutes if using eggs straight form the fridge). Remove eggs using a slotted spoon and refresh under cold water. Carefully peel eggs and drain on kitchen paper to remove excess liquid.
4. When the stock is ready, return to the boil. Add pork, eggs, carrots and red shallots, cover the entire surface with a round of baking paper and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until pork is tender. There should be no more than an occasional ripple breaking the surface; adjust the temperature, if necessary. To check it's ready, pierce the pork with a small knife – you should meet no resistance.
5. When the pork is just about cooked, scoop out 250 millilitres (1 cup) stock from the pork and place in a small saucepan. Add sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil and cook over medium-high heat for five minutes or until sauce is reduced by half and syrupy.
6. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the pork belly, carrots, shallots and braising aromatics from the stock pot and place on a large platter. Scoop out the eggs and cut in half.
7. Spoon the sauce over the pork and arrange the egg halves on top to serve.
8. Strain and freeze the master stock to use again.
Red braise master stock
1. Place all ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 25 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
2. Use as directed in recipe or cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days or strain and freeze to use again.
Makes 3.5 litres
Tips: Feel free to add exotic Asian mushrooms such as shiitake, shimeji or oyster mushrooms. If you do not eat pork or are a vegetarian, omit the pork entirely and add your favourite vegetables – thick slices of white radish and cauliflower florets plus chunks of zucchini, potatoes or fennel. For a less hearty version, simply omit the boiled eggs.
After cooking with the stock, you can strain it and freeze it indefinitely to use again. It will develop a stronger flavour each time you use it.