Friday Night Dinner – Crispy Belly Pork for discussing impending weddings

Jackie and I got together last night to make the most of the time, lying on the sofa, we have left before I leave for the Northwest again. I love going to Jackie’s for the evening, I’m harrassed, criticised and corrected but it’s a lovely chance to wind down and giggle.

Last night, we watched Top of the Pops. It was truly the saddest day in my life (apart from maybe when I realised Leonardo DiCaprio hadn’t aged well and I’ve have been better off sticking with Ronan Keating all along) when they cancelled Top of the Pops. It was such an important part of my week; at school, supper was earlier on a Thursday evening as a hangover from when Top of the Pops was on a Thursday not a Friday. Later on, as a foul teenager, getting home from school on a Friday night, from weekly boarding, I would be rewarded for surviving another week without serious reprimand with steak and Top of the Pops. I wasn’t really allowed to eat my steak in front of Top of the Pops on my own though, in case I choked. Bad times.

I have such clear memories of watching TOTP when I was about 13 and Boyzone sang Words and it was the first time I’d heard it and when they all raised up from their stools for the key change, I would never be the same again! So, last night, we watched TOTP and goggled at the hairstyles and the outfits and the snazzy camerawork all over again but much older and wiser this time.

To accompany this evening down memory lane, we decided to forgo our usual Chinese takeaway and I offered to cook. It’s always difficult to choose something for Jackie because she doesn’t have a huge appetite and she doesn’t enjoy anything too rich. I chose, from this month’s Sainsbury’s magazine, Crispy Belly Pork with Spring Greens and Soy and Lime. It was delicious although I would probably do away with the fish sauce next time, the soy was savoury enough and perhaps less lime juice/more sugar or even sweet chilli sauce instead of the fresh chilli and the sugar… We had ours with pak choi rather than spring greens because we love them but it was delicious even if I struggled with the gas oven! The crackling on the top was the best I’ve ever tasted.

I bought the Belly Pork from Waitrose and the fat was prescored. This makes a huge difference to the crackling quality as does the turning the oven up at the end!

Crispy Belly Pork with Pak Choi, Soy and Lime

More than enough for 2

Takes a while but worth it!

  • 1 x 600g piece of pork belly
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 250g pak choi or spring greens
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp thai fish sauce (which I wouldn’t think would ruin it if left out)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds toasted
  • sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 22o degrees C. Rub a teaspoon of salt into the skin of the pork and roast in a shallow roasting in at this temperature for 30 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 160 degrees C abd cook for an hour before turning the oven back up to the initial temperature for the final 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the sliced shallot in the oil in a frying pan for 5 – 6 minutes or until golden and crispy; set aside on kitchen paper to drain.
  3. Towards the end of the cooking time, bring a pan of water with a steamer to the boil. Trim the spring greens/pak choi.
  4. Mix half the chilli with the sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. Steam the vegetables for 6 or 7 minutes or until tender. Then toss with the chilli dressing and divide between 2 bowls.
  5. Slice the pork belly and serve on top of the greens. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the crispy shallot and the remaining chilli.

I wish I could credit this photo as my own but it’s the one in the magazine because the light in the kitchen has blended all of the colour out of the dish and the photo I took is terrible:

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