You’ve probably heard of Gok Wan, the TV presenter that we mostly know for his programme How to Look good Naked amongst other things.
Well, it’s seems that Gok is a good cook too and his show Gok Cooks Chinese has recently aired in the UK on Channel 4 described as follows :
Growing up with a Chinese restaurateur and chef for a father, Gok Wan
loves nothing more than home cooked Chinese food and over the years has
perfected many dishes of his own. Now he is joined by his dad John for a brand new cookery series exploring Chinese home cooking, and featuring
healthy, quick meals devised by Gok himself - proving that he is master of the cleaver as well as the cleavage.
Twice cooked melting pork belly
I missed most I the series but did record one where he cooked a dish which caught my eye – twice cooked melting pork belly. When I saw the dish of Twice Cooked Belly of Pork I was hooked and knew I had to make this dish. I’m a great lover of pork and particularly pork belly as it takes me back to my childhood (back in the days when pork belly was extremely cheap I might add, it’s revival has made it somewhat expensive now!).
Shopping for ingredients
After the show I searched for the recipe online (I need to get the cookbook at some stage) and rushed off to Waitrose to pick up some of the missing ingredients – the most important I’d course being the pork. Only a few supermarkets in Dubai are licensed to sell pork, and in my opinion, Waitrose has the best pork butcher. They always have plenty of stock and are always willing to trim the meat to your requirements etc.
I needed a large piece of belly of pork and was able to get this cut for me specially by the butcher. The majority of the other ingredients were easy to find, I either had them in my cupboard or managed to get them in Waitrose. The only ingredient I couldn’t find was Shaoxing Wine which I had to exchange with normal white wine instead (the recipe suggested replacing with Dry Sherry, but since I didn’t have any of this I chose to go ‘off recipe’ a little and add my own exchange).
The recipe is easy to follow, you just need to plan ahead of when you want to eat as it takes approx 3 hours to cook in total depending on the size of your pork belly.
Since the pork is cooked twice, first boiled and then roasted, you need to do two lots of preparation. However each stage is minimal which is my kind of lazy cooking 🙂 Made even better if the results taste good.
Once the pork is boiled (1 1/2 – 2 hours depending on the weight of your pork belly) you need to leave it to cool for a while before you trim off the skin and fat and then make the marinade before roasting as the final stage.
After a quick 45 mins in the oven the meal is ready to eat. I chose to serve the pork with some noodles which I added soy and teriyaki sauce too once they were cooked as well as a garnish of spring onions and red chilli . Gok suggests serving it as part of a banquet of different chinese food for a special celebration.
The Taste Test : The pork was beautiful and tender and the marinade had turned sticky and rich. There were some lovely crispy pieces of marinade covered pork around the edge which were delicious too. Personally I like more sauce so I would probably make additional marinade and put it on 15 minutes before final cooking. I would also be tempted to miss out the boiling part if the cooking process either by cooking the pork slowly in a slow cooker or by slow roasting in the oven on a very low heat as I find this often makes really succulent juicy pork
Recipe, Gok Cooks Chinese by Gok Wan (Penguin/Michael Joseph).
*Picture Credit – from Channel 4 website.
500 ml shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry (I used rice wine vinegar from Waitrose)
2 star anise
5 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and bruised
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
3 spring onions, finely chopped
3 tblsp light soy sauce
1.25 kg piece of pork belly, rind left on but unscored (from Waitrose, my favorite place for pork)
4 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and sliced diagonally
2 spring onions, sliced diagonally
Place the Shaoxing rice wine, star anise, ginger, garlic, spring onions and soy sauce into a large pan.
Add the pork belly and pour over enough water to generously cover the meat.
Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1½–2 hours, or until the pork is very tender, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Leave the pork in its cooking liquid until cool enough to handle – this bit is tricky as it smells so good…..
Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
Remove the pork from the liquid and place it on a board.
Using a knife, carefully remove the very top layer of skin – I roasted this separately to make crackling.
Line a flat baking tray with baking parchment to protect your tray (or use a non stick pan), and place the pork on the lined tray.
Mix together the honey and soy sauce and pour the mixture over the pork. It will run down and off the pork, but don’t worry about it as you will use this as a baste.
Place the pork in the oven and roast for 20–30 minutes, turning often and basting with the glaze to achieve a glossy lacquered look.
Remove from the oven and place on a serving plate. Slice the pork into large chunks and garnish with the spring onion and chilli.