Roast 5 Spice Pork Belly With Spicy Kale Stir Fry

hinese pork belly and kale stir fry

So how has dry January been everyone? I have conscientiously abstained this year as I find little more comforting during the British winter than a good pub with good ale. Throw in some warm bar snacks and we have ourselves a key weapon in the fight again the post-Christmas Blues. Also, more exercise, fewer carbs, starting a new hobby and even more exercise, but the point stands.

This time last year however, I was getting to the end of a month spent free from meat, other than the type which comes out the water and to the very day a year ago, starved of inspiration and protein, I caved in and made a dish with oxtails in it. Sigh.

To mark this significant achievement therefore, I made this lovingly for all the carnivorous detoxers out there – a kind of porcine carrot on a stick to see you through the last few days until all the good work is undone with a whacking great burger.

In fairness only a third of this dish has questionable health benefits and wouldn’t you know, it’s the tastiest bit. It borrows heavily from my earlier post about roast pork belly but this time it’s getting the 5 spice treatment. The night before, the pork was rubbed with 5 spice before being braised in a cooking liquor of garlic, ginger, chicken stock and soy sauce for 3 hours covered with some tightly fitting foil. Then, it’s oven off and leave it alone until the morning. As before, you may want to remove the foil and replace with cling film before transferring to the fridge if you intend to have this for dinner, to be on the safe side.

I heartily recommend a layer of baking parchment between the pork and the foil as the salt in the stock can attack the aluminium, discolouring anything it touches.

As ever, finish the stir fry off last and have everything chopped and ready to go or much cursing generally ensues. I used kale here, primarily as I had it in the fridge, but it works well with the chilli. The only other aspect was the plain boiled rice to serve it with.

Lastly, you’ll have to take my word about the sauce being there, I put it under the pork so as not to ruin the carefully crisped skin….

Serves 2

  •  750g/1.6lb pork belly
  • 1 tbsp five spice
  • 500ml/2cups chicken stock
  • Good dash of soy
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole
  • 8 slices of ginger, don’t bother peeling.

To finish the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp hoisin
  • 1 tbsp honey

For the stir fry:

  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • Chilli flakes, as much as you like
  • 3 small peppers, cut into thin rings
  • 2 to 3 handfuls of sliced mushroom.
  • 6 handfuls of kale
  • Soy sauce or salt to taste
  • Oil for frying

Boiled rice

Place the pork in a tightly fitting tray and add the garlic, soy, ginger and chicken stock. Cover with a layer of baking parchment, tightly seal with foil and roast in the oven at around 150°C/ 300°F for 3 hours. After this, turn the oven off and go to bed (or go out for the day) – don’t open the oven or remove the foil.

When ready to cook, remove the pork (keep the cooking liquor – see below) and dry with kitchen paper, cut into nice squares and fry it in an oven proof hot frying pan, skin side down, to crisp up. Turn the pork over to colour each side then place it, skin side up in the oven.

A this point I placed the pan at the bottom of the oven and use the grill to crisp the skin properly and warm thoroughly (80°C 175°F should do it). Once done, leave to rest with some more foil over it.

Skin crisped, ready to go.

Skin crisped, ready to go.

Meanwhile, boil some white long grain rice in a pan, I use the absorption method.

In a small pan, pour in about half the cooking liquor and heat to reduce a little (unless you added too much soy, it shouldn’t be too salty). Stir in the hoisin and honey and whisk well. Keep warm.

Finally, chop the vegetables ready to go. Place a little oil into a very hot wok and stir in the mushroom and peppers and chilli flakes for 1 minute, moving it all the time. Add the kale and garlic and stir fry for a couple minutes more. Season with a little more soy, or salt if you prefer.

Spicy kale stir fry


Steamed Open Dumpling Dim Sum

Open Steamed Dumplings
I have tons of cookery books, a cupboard full of everything from £1.99 bargains through  TV chef spin-offs to the bible that is La Gastronomique and I can say that I under-use all of them. I tend browse for the basics and then go…freestyle. With mixed results its fair to say

Now, I make a fair bit of Chinese food during the week as it’s fast, and (providing you watch the oil) healthy. The only problem I have is that I can’t say I’ve nailed a recipe or particular dish in the same way I can make, for instance, specific pasta dishes, they tend to be concoctions of whatever I have in the fridge. This was different though – I got the iPad (other tablets are available…) edition of Ken Hom’s Complete Chinese Cookbook recently and was keen to try his recipes with the ingredients as instructed. Being a big fan of dim sum thought I’d try the relatively straightforward open steamed dumplings. Although the implementation probably wavered a bit, I used the ingredients as Mr Hom instructed and they were delicious.

I bought in the wanton cases as we were in the local Chinese supermarket recently. They keep brilliantly in the freezer but there’s nothing too hard about making them. The recipe quoted about 40, but I in fact made 20 presumably large versions. They didn’t seem so big, so who knows, but it didn’t seem to matter. I served them up with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, chilli oil, dried chilli flakes, sugar and ginger. I kind of did it off the cuff, so don’t remember the proportions, but it was very much ‘to taste’ anyway!

I made my own mince using some good quality belly pork as Mr Hom specified fatty pork mince. I just blitzed it in the food processor and it worked nicely.

So, via Ken Hom’s Complete Chinese Cookbook:

  • 100g/4oz uncooked prawns
  • 350g/12oz pork belly, minced or food processed (or fatty pre-minced pork)
  • 2 tbsp bacon lardons
  • 100g/4oz water chestnuts, tinned. Well rinsed.
  • 2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped spring onion
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dry sherry.
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt and a twist of black pepper
  • 20 wanton skin

Defrost the wanton wrappers at room temperature if needed. This takes a surprisingly short amount of time.

Prepare the pork by mincing or blitzing the pork belly in a processor. Finely chop the prawns and bacon and vegetables.

Open dumplings vegetables

Then, simply place the the whole lot into a bowl and mix very thoroughly.

Spoon a couple of teaspoons of the mixture onto the middle of a wanton wrapper.

Dim Sum Preparation

Bring up the sides, pinching firmly and turning as you do to make the open wrapping. Tricky – I’m sure practise makes perfect!


Boil a little water in the bottom of a steamer. Use the bottom of the steamer insert and cut out some greaseproof paper to line the inside. I used a skewer to push though the holes to let the steam through.

Place the dumplings in, not too tightly packed, and steam for about 15 minutes. I used a probe to check the temperature in the middle and they were well done by this time, but may need longer – the recipe said about 20mins.

Open steamed dumplings in steamer

Repeat in batches until all done!