A couple of weeks ago, I visited my aunt in Birmingham. Because her first husband is of Peranakan origins, she had learnt how to cook really well under the watchful eye of her mother-in-law. With this in mind, I had expected to be fed very very well, which I was. Better yet, I came home with a lot of leftovers to last me through the week. While I was there, my aunt taught me how to make roast pork belly or shao rou. Its one of my favorite dishes. However, due to the high amount of fat content and its contributions towards cholesterol, my mom doesn’t allow us to eat it very often. In fact, I think my dad only gets to enjoy it when I return home to Singapore, and only on the weekends where it has become a weekend habit for us to go to Bedok South for their delicious porridge and where we’ll drop by the wet market to buy the shao rou from the butcher.
Anyway, with the slab of pork belly I bought from Sainsbury the other day (600g!) and some satay sticks, I decided to give my aunt’s recipe a try. First I boiled the pork belly for about 5 mins in boiling water. Then I stuck satay sticks into it in a ‘X’. I’m not sure why she boiled it first but I’m going to assume its because she wanted to be able to stick the sticks in easily. I didn’t marinate it with a pinch of salt like she did (I forgot). Then using a half cup of boiling water, I dissolved a cube of stock (I used chicken because it was the only kind I have), a teaspoon of vinegar, a teaspoon of allspice, and half a teaspoon (estimated) of salt (only because I had forgotten to marinate it with salt in the first place. Then I spread it over the pork and left it on the plate to ‘dry out’ for about 4 hours (according to my aunt, minimum time is 2 hours and at room temperature).
I was volunteering at Sue Ryders and didn’t get home till about 5 hours later. And then because I wanted to go to Starbucks, allowed it to dry out till about 5pm which meant that poor slab had been drying out at room temperature for about 8 hours total. After that, I put it on a pan on top of a wire grill thing. I filled the bottom of the pan with some water. My aunt said that part was important because if I don’t use water, the pork would turn out to be too dry. So there, that’s the secret to the whole thing. I stuck it into the oven that had been preheated for about 15 mins at 200degree celsius. It remained in said oven for about 90 mins (according to the instructions on the package, its 45 mins per 500g plus another 40 mins….).
Then I took it out and stuck it in the grill for about 5 mins at level 5 (at least that’s what the knob on my grill said). It started making popping noises by about min 4 and so out of fear of creating a burnt kitchen, I took it out at min 5.
Surprisingly enough, it didn’t turn out tasting too bad. And it didn’t even take too much work!