Red Spice Road pork belly (adapted version)

I have deliberately not included a calorie count for this recipe because it got really depressing. It was also hard to calculate because although there are a lot of calories in the ingredients, you don’t end up consuming it all so it was a bit pointless estimating. But let’s just say it could be about 1,000 calories (lots of fat, lots of sugar) so it’s definitely not a dish I would be making often. And with so many steps and sauces to make, I would rather order the real deal from Red Spice Road than make it at home. But having said that … it is ah-may-zing!

I wish I could take credit but this recipe isn’t mine. It’s an adaptation of the signature dish of Red Spice Road. The full, original recipe is located here.

Prep time 30 mins + 1 hour
Cook time 3.5 hours + 20 mins

Serves 6-8


For the pork belly
800g pork belly, remove the skin (gets chewy if you’re not crackling it)
1L vegetable stock
1 star anise
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder

For the pork belly batter and frying

1 cup water
120g tapioca starch
1 tbsp Chinese five spice powder
500ml vegetable oil, for frying

For the chilli caramel sauce
100g caster sugar
100ml water
1 chilli, finely chopped
3 star anise
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce

For the apple slaw (this will make enough fora side)
300g cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 apple, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 chillies, finely sliced
12 mint leaves, finely sliced
12 coriander leaves, finely sliced
12 Vietnamese mint leaves, finely sliced
6 shiso leaves, finely sliced (hard to find, but I found it at Footscray market)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar

Note: you need to prepare the pork belly well in advance of serving as it needs to be slow cooked and then chilled, preferably overnight. If in a rush, put it in the freezer for a minimum of 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Place the pork belly in a cast iron pot. Fill the pot with vegetable stock, season with some salt, 1 tsp of Chinese five spice powder and 1 star anise.

Place the pot in the oven and let it cook for 3.5hrs, checking every hour or so to make sure the stock hasn’t evaporated. Add water as needed.

After the pork belly has finished cooking, let it cool slightly before chilling in the fridge. This makes it much easier to handle for the frying process later – otherwise the pork belly would just break to pieces.

About an hour before you are ready to serve, prepare the chilli caramel sauce. Mix the caster sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring to boil. Once it caramelises, add the fish sauce, light soy sauce, chillies and star anise and let it simmer for a few more minutes. Set aside.

Prepare the apple slaw by mixing the cabbage, apple, garlic, chillies, mint leaves, coriander leaves, Vietnamese mint leaves, shiso leaves, lemon juice, fish sauce, soy sauce and rice vinegar.

Take the pork belly out of the fridge and cut into 8-12 pieces (approx. 70-100g per piece).

Prepare the pork belly batter by mixing the tapioca starch and Chinese five spice powder together onto a tray. Dunk the pork belly pieces in the water before you coat with the batter to help it stick.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wide non-stick pan. Shallow fry the pork belly pieces in batches. Remove excess batter in the oil with a slotted spoon.

Place fried pork belly on a plate with paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Then place on to a serving tray, top with a spoonful of apple slaw and drizzle with the chilli caramel sauce.

Serve immediately with apple slaw, rice and stir fried greens.

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