This cider braised pork belly is pure heaven on a plate – the poaching step is all about making the meat as moist and succulent as possible, while frying it up on the day ensures the skin is crisp to perfection! Reducing the cider broth to a delicate jus works wonders to bring all the rich and earthy flavours together. It takes a bit of planning to get started the day before, but each step is super easy and the end result is truly michelin star quality!
1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
4 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
500ml good-quality cider
1l fresh chicken stock
1-1.5kg piece unscored boneless pork belly
1. Heat the oven to 160C. Place onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves and thyme in an oven proof casserole. Cover with stock, cider and bring to the boil. Slide the pork into the liquid making sure it’s totally submerged, cover with a lid and place in the oven for 3 hours.
2. Once cooked leave the pork to cool for a bit in the stock. Line a flat baking tray with cling film, carefully lift the pork, get rid of any bits of veg & herbs and place it skin down onto the tray. Cover with another flat tray or dish, weigh it down with something heavy place in the fridge overnight. This step is really important to ensure the pork’s skin is perfectly clean, flat – ready to be trimmed and crisped up the next day. Strain the cooking liquid into a jug cover and place in the fridge to chill.
(on the day)
3. Pour the braising juices (now jelly) into a saucepan and reduce down by two-thirds until thicker and syrupy.
4. Place pork on a clean board, skin-side upwards. Get a sharp knife and trim off any uneven edges so that you have a neat sheet of meat and cut into equal pieces. Heat oil in a large frying pan and reduce to medium heat. Sizzle the pork skin side down for 5 mins until the skin is perfectly crispy and flip it over for another couple of minutes until warm and browned all over.
Serve with cauliflower mash, mustard cabbage or any other earthy/wintery sides and drizzle the jus next to the pork on the plate. I also like to sprinkle a few bits of fried chorizo over it for extra texture!
Definitely give this dish a go for your next dinner party, pork belly is a very affordable cut of meat too, so no need to spend a fortune to impress!
San choy bau is a beautiful Chinese classic, of tasty mince mixture wrapped in a fresh and crunchy lettuce leaf. It’s all about contrast, texture and dimensions – the intensity of the juices, crunch of the nuts, freshness of the herbs – so keep it in mind if trying to adapt the recipe. This dish can be served either by itself as a starter or as a main with a side of rice.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter):
2 tsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped (julienne)
1/2 onion, finely sliced
400g lean pork mince
100g mushrooms, finely sliced
2 tbsp Shao hsing wine
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup coriander, finely chopped
1/3 cup macadama or cashew nuts, roughly crushed
8 iceberg lettuce leaves, trimmed
1. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Stir-fry for 1 minute or until onion has softened.
2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add mince. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until browned. Add mushrooms, nuts and continue stir-frying for 30 seconds.
3. Pour in hsing wine, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce and stir until the pork is fully cooked through. Stir in the coriander, just before taking it off the heat.
4. Spoon the mixture with its lovely juices into a hot bowl and serve in a large platter, surrounded by lettuce leaf cups and garnish with an extra sprinkle of coriander, as well as a few slices of red chilli if you fancy it!
I decided to start making my own Scotch eggs after witnessing my boyfriend struggling to satisfy his odd British craving in Sydney. Since I hate the idea of deep-frying anything, I also tweaked the classic recipe for a healthier version using only just a touch of oil spray and a hot oven!
Ingredients: makes 10 eggs
1/2 onion, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped
3 tbsp worcester sauce
500g Pork mince
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Plain flour, to dust
Breadcrumbs, to coat
2 eggs, lightly beaten to coat
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place 10 eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water to cool completely, peel and dust with a bit of flour so that the surface is nice and dry.
2. In the meantime, combine the onion, garlic, chilli, herbs, worcester sauce and mince. Season with salt & pepper, mixe well and divide the mixture into 10 even portions.
3. To assemble to scotch eggs, mould half of one portion flat in the cup of your hand. Place a hard-boiled egg into it and shape the rest of the meat around to enclose. Roll it between your hands to smooth the surface. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
4. Roll each egg in the egg wash and breadcrumbs and set aside. Repeat with the other eggs.
5. When you have assembled all of the scotch eggs, place them onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Spray with oil and bake on high heat for 20 minutes. Spray again lightly, change the oven setting and grill for another 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
Scotch eggs are great sliced over a green salad for a light dinner, or simply packed for a picnic or a lunch box! Mini scotch eggs using quail eggs can also make a great party food option!
Croque Madame, or “crispy miss” is a tweaked version of the classic French “Croque Monsieur” more commonly referred to as “croque” in most French bistros. The addition of the fried egg and bechamel sauce on top turns it from a Monsieur to a Madam… it’s a sensational Sunday brunch option!
Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 slices sandwich bread
4 tbsp hot mustard
200g, freshly sliced ham
60g Gruyere cheese, finely sliced
4 tbsp butter, softened
40g Gruyere cheese, grated
2 tablespoons oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1. Preheat the grill to 150 degrees and divide the sliced ham and cheese evenly into 4 portions. Spread the mustard on 4 slices of bread, cover with ham and with cheese. Place the remaining slices of bread on top of the cheese and spread the butter over the outside surfaces of the sandwiches.
2. To prepare the bechamel sauce, melt the butter into a small sauce pan and whisk in the flour until it forms a smooth paste. Gradually add the milk and continue whisking and cook until the sauce is smooth, and thickened. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
3. Place the sandwiches on an ungreased baking sheet and grill for about 3 minutes on each side, turn them over, cover with a layer of bechamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and continue cooking until they are crispy and golden brown.
4. In the meantime, pre-heat oil in a large frying pan and fry the eggs. Place a fried egg on each sandwich and serve hot.
For a classic croque-monsieur, simply omit the bechamel sauce and fried egg!
This is a really light, healthy and tasty dish, which will work beautifully as a lunch but also as a starter or as party food. It differs slightly from the traditional recipe as I omitted the rice vermicelli to avoid doubling up on the rice based ingredients! The secret is in the contrast between the fresh crisp ingredients, the tasty meat and the fragrant dipping sauce.
Ingredients: (6 rolls)
1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into thin sticks
200g bean sprouts, steamed
2 spring onions, cut into thin strips
1 handful of coriander, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
1 handful peanut, crushed
200g pork fillet, cut into thin strips
3 tbsp Teriyaki sauce
3 tbsp Hoi sin or black bean sauce
9 prawns, cooked and halved
5 rice paper sheets
1. Pre-heat a non stick pan and cook the meat for a few minute with the teriyaki sauce. Add the hoi sin or black bean at the end and save on the side to cool.
2. Pour boiled water into a flat tray and place a dry kitchen towel flat on the surface next to it to use as a dipping and rolling station. place the rice paper roll in the warm water for a few seconds until just softened. Place it flat onto the kitchen towel spreading the ingredients toward the top edge – start with 3 prawn halves (round side down), peanuts, coriander, chilli, spring onion…
3. Continue with the vegetables – cucumber and bean sprouts
4. And finish with the meat. Add extra coriander at that stage if you like it as much as I do.
5. Roll up to enclose the filling, folding in the ends. Repeat with the remaining rolls.
You can serve it with chili sauce, soy or fish sauce. To make the fish dipping sauce – dissolve 1 tsp of sugar with 5 tsp of fish sauce, 5 tsp of lemon juice, a drop of water and a few slices of red chili. To store it in the fridge for up to 24h, cover the rolls with a damp towel, which will prevent the rice paper from drying out.
Once you’ve tried this recipe at home, you will never order gyoza from the restaurant ever again! It’s really fun to make, super tasty and it looks very impressive too!
Ingredients: (30 dumplings)
200g Pork mince meat (lean)
6 uncooked prawns, deveined & chopped
2 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 tbsp chinese shao hsing wine
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
30 gyoza wrappers
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp coriander, chopped
4 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
4 tbsp spring onions, finely sliced
4 tbsp mal vinegar
1 red chili chopped
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1. Start with the filling. Combine all the listed gyoza ingredients (except the vegetable oil and wrappers!) in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 mins.
2. Place a teaspoon of the mixture in the centre of each wrapper and shape as per below:
– Wet the edge of the wrapper with one finger
– Fold the wrapper in half and bring the edges to stick together
– Pinch the bottom edge closed and fold the edge 4-5 times to the top
3. Steam for 10 mins, and set aside. In the meantime, mix all dressing ingredients together.
4. pre-heat vegetable oil in a large non stick pan and pan fry the gyoza until nice and golden brown.
Place on a serving plate and dizzle with the dressing!
If you want to prepare the gyoza ahead, stop at the steaming stage and refrigerate or freeze as is and pan fry before eating. I would actually suggest that you make enough to freeze some extra too as you can just pan fry it from frozen on a lazy night!