Pork Belly Braised in Coconut Water with Potato & Hard Boiled Eggs
I saw this dish on an episode of Food Safari a really long time ago. Food Safari is an interesting program on the gem of an independent TV station in Australia called SBS. SBS has fantastic programming and Food Safari is among the best. This dish was presented by a Vietnamese chef – I remembered it and it’s stuck in my head for an age. It’s made for Lunar New Year, but I make it year round. I figure if I can’t pronounce the name then there isn’t much more offense to be given in bucking any other traditions it might be associated with. Also, for all the Vietnamese people reading this: I apologize for destroying your Mama’s food. And adding potatoes.
This is a dish where pork belly turns gooey and gelatinous and lip smacking. Very different from the crisp dry kind that most people are used to. So be warned. If you like, you can use pork shoulder, but belly is best. However, I’m a little leery of anyone who doesn’t like pork belly. Belly is best.
- about 3lb or 1.2 kg of pork belly. Slice off the overly fatty bits. Keep them and render off the lard
- 4-5 eggs
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 large waxy potatoes
- 1 quart of coconut water
- 1/2 cup light soya sauce
- 3 star anise
- 2 cloves
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger.
Slice the pork into 1 inch slices.
Slice all the veggies into 2 inch chunks, slice the onion thickly.
Put the eggs on to boil in plenty of water. After 10 minutes or so, immediately drain and cool in cold water. The older the eggs, the easier they’ll be to peel. The albumen breaks down as the egg ages and that’s the stuff that sticks the shell to the white of the egg. So for future reference: poaching eggs need young albumens and hard boiling eggs need old wobbly albumens. So when you’re poaching, don’t be afraid to dig for the carton with the latest use by date in the supermarket fridge. Yeah, I’m that annoying lady and I’m proud of it.
In a heavy casserole with a lid, sear the pork in some vegetable oil until golden – you really want colour here so don’t get impatient and stop when it goes that horrid shade of grey. Add the remaining ingredients (except the eggs), put the lid on and bring to a really gentle simmer, the water surface just needs to murmur softly.
Once the eggs are cooled and peeled, add them to the mix. Taste and add more coconut water or soya sauce as your tastebuds dictate. Simmer for 3-4 hours or until the flavors are melded and the pork belly bits are wobbly gelatinous lip smacking hunks of yum.
If you can’t hang around your stove for 4 hours (which is most of us I think) you can use a slow cooker. Just sear the pork in a heavy pan before popping it all in the slow cooker as per the recipe. It will only need about 6 hours, any longer than that and it starts to get that generic slow cooker taste rather than fragrant porkiness.
Serve over fluffy white rice.