Having travelled extensively through Asia, I am rather fond of the food from all of the countries there!! I do get cravings for a little umami and this recipe does fill those cravings!! This recipe uses a cheaper cut of pork, which is always an advantage!
I like to make this on a weekend, as despite an easy prep, it takes almost a couple of hours in the oven, but that gives me time to put my feet up & watch a movie! Just don’t open the wine while you do that, or there will be none to have with supper!!!
WINE NOTE: Asian food requires something a little fruity and aromatic especially with umami flavours which flatten wine. Pinot Gris from Alsace or Gruner Vetliner also work well with flowers, fruit and aromatics!
25g (1oz) whole dried shiitake mushrooms
1 small bunch of spring onions/ scallions
2tbsp vegetable oil
5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 star anise or 3/4 tsp ground star anise (Chinese 5 spice can substitute)
1 piece of cassia bark (I get mine form the world food store or Asian store)
800g (1lb 12oz) pork belly (ideally a 5-layered cut – skin/fat/meat/fat/meat), cut into cubes
3tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
3tbsp dark soy sauce
1tbsp light soy sauce
2tbsp caster sugar
Rice noodles to serve
Soak the mushrooms in boiling water for at least 15 minutes. Chop all the spring onions into 4cm / 2” lengths except one. Finely slice this last one to garnish.
Heat the oil gently in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the lengths of spring onion with the ginger, garlic, star anise and cassia bark for 3-4 minutes, or until it smells great.
Add the pork and cook until it starts to brown. You can do this in batches if your pan is a bit small. Add the mushrooms and their soaking liquid, the rice wine, soy sauces and sugar, and enough water to cover the pork. Cover the pan and gently simmer for 1½-2 hours, or until the pork is really tender and falling apart.
Remove the lid, turn up the heat and cook uncovered over a high heat for 10-15 minutes to reduce the sauce so it becomes thick and syrupy.
Cook the noodles according to packaging instructions. Plate and put the pork over the noodles, sprinke with the remaining spring onions /scallions.