There is just no nice way of saying this so I’m going to get to the point real quick. Before anyone else does.
This is one ugly looking bowl of porkiness and no amount of artyfarty scatterings of coriander can save it. This one definitely got struck with the ugly stick.
Can you believe in a previous life I used to be in sales and marketing? I know – hard to believe hey?
Maybe I should start again.
I have to admit I had reservations about this dish even as I was pulling it together and I almost started considering reservations of the restaurant sort. I thought it was too rich and sweet so I threw together a quick salsa which in the end worked really well – although I know it’s not authentic and I wish I had the book so that I could have found something more suitable.
If you dig down past the melt in your mouth tender pork belly you’ll hit pay dirt in the form of smushy rice smothered in a sweet gingery pepper sauce and all your reservations will melt away. And you may just be a little smitten. And you will definitely go back for more.
The problem I had with this dish is that the pork belly isn’t pan fried or oven roasted so the fat isn’t rendered off – and the rind is soft and we are all used to immaculately crispy pork belly aren’t we? But if you can get past that you will discover that appearances can in fact be deceptive – and that maybe you’re not as shallow as moi.
I tentatively asked Rich what the verdict was and he gave it the big thumbs up, said it was delicious, what was my problem and could he go back for seconds….
And I have to agree – it’s actually sublimely simple and delicious. So in the end it turned out that the only problem with this dish was me.
Yet again I failed to read the recipe properly but it all worked out. I was sure I needed 500g of sweet potato and it wasn’t til I was writing up the recipe that I realised I’d gotten it wrong – again. Ground hog day right?
Anyway, I think it it was a good mistake to make although it goes someway to explaining why I thought the dish was too sweet! I added a heap of ginger, far more than the recipe asked for but then I’m a bit of a ginger fiend. I think a squeeze of lemon or lime over the top would be great next time to cut through the fattiness of …..the fatty pork belly.
This will definitely make an appearance again for sure on the dinner table. It was dead easy to throw together, took no looking after and tasted waaaaaay better than it looked!
Cambodian caramelised pepper pork
Cambodian caramelised pepper pork
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp finely ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp palm sugar I used brown sugar
- 750 g pork belly cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger plus juice
- 500 g peeled and diced sweet potato 1 big one!
- 1 handful fresh coriander leaves and stems finely chopped
Mango and apple salsa
- 1 mango peeled, cut into small dice
- 1/2 green apple cut into small dice
- 1/2 red onion cut into small dice
- 1/2 cucumber peeled and cored, cut into small dice
- handful each mint leaves and coriander leaves & stems finely chopped
- 1 small red chilli deseeded, finely sliced
- juice 1 lemon
Caramelised pepper pork
Put the sugar and water into a large saucepan or wok and heat until it starts to bubble, stirring constantly until the mixture is golden brown.
Immediately add 1 cup (250ml) water, the garlic, fish sauce, pepper and sugar and stir while it comes to a boil.
Add the pork, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the pork is tender.
Add the ginger and sweet potato and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Sprinkle with coriander and serve with white rice and salsa.
Mix everything together and add salt and pepper to taste.
Head over to The Cookbook Guru for more recipes from Charmaine Solomon’s The Complete Asian Cookbook. There’s already a couple of curries over there I want to try out especially the Burmese Pork Curry.
Thank you once again to Leah from Sharing the Food We Love for not only choosing the monthly book but also for hosting the challenge.
Have you ever made a really ugly dish and been pleasantly surprised?!