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five spice pork belly Before you say, “Eww, gross!” at the mere mention of pork belly, consider this: other countries in the world make their bacon from side and back cuts of pork, but here in the United States, we choose to make our bacon from the pig’s belly. In other words, bacon is none other than cured PORK BELLY, so if you’re loving your crispy bacon in the morning, you are eating pork belly!

Dining on pork belly has become a food trend from coast to coast. Chefs at some of the most popular and fashionable restaurants have put their own unique spin on preparing it. For example, Chef Zak Pelaccio of New York, makes a signature Coriander Bacon. His chefs “cure their heritage-pork belly in a mix of palm sugar, coriander, Thai chiles, and salt, smoke it over hardwood, then braise it to melting, candied softness.” That sounds delicious, but the procedure is more complicated than the average home cook wants to undertake. Here’s an easy and interesting pork belly recipe. It’s similar in taste to the Chinese red-cooked pork belly, but with a Thai twist. The addition of chopped tomatoes, fish sauce, and lime juice provides a sublime depth of flavors. This dish will be part of my Chinese New Year’s feast this weekend!

Pork Belly with Five Spices
From The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Thai Cooking by Judy Bastyra

Ingredients:
1 large bunch fresh coriander (cilantro) with roots*
2 tbsp/30ml vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp/30ml five-spice powder
1¼ lb/500g pork belly, cut into 1-in/2.5cm pieces
14oz/400g can chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup/150ml hot water
2 tbsp/30ml dark soy sauce
3 tbsp/45ml Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp/30ml granulated sugar
1 lime halved

Directions:
1. Cut off the coriander roots. Chop five of them finely and freeze the remainder for another occasion. Chop the coriander stalks and leaves and set them aside. Keep the roots separate.

2. Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the garlic until golden brown. Stirring constantly, add the chopped coriander roots and then the five-spice powder.

3. Add the pork and stir-fry until the meat is thoroughly coated in spices and has browned. Stir in the tomatoes and hot water. Bring to a boil, then stir in the soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar.

4. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the chopped coriander stalks and leaves. Squeeze in the lime juice and serve.

Serves 4

Linnell’s Notes:
1. This dish is not intended to be served as a solo main entrée, but as one among several entrée-type dishes served at dinner (Chinese style).

2. Five-spice powder is said to encompass the five elements of flavor: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty. Use Chinese five-spice powder, which is normally made from cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, and Szechuan pepper, and not the Indian five spice known as Panch phoran, which is made from fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed.

3. *I did not have coriander with roots and I understand it can be hard to find, so I cut in a few more stems to make up the difference. Coriander/cilantro stems have a slightly more intense flavor than the leaves.

ENJOY!

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