In the kitchen I am …
Best described as an outside barbecue specialist. I’m better off leaving the indoor cooking to the more creative and competent cooks in my household. However, I am determined to improve my culinary skills, so let’s see where I’m at next year.
The fridge is nearly empty – what do you cook for dinner?
An omelette or sardines on toast.
Most useful cooking tool?
Three essential grocery items?
Bacon, eggs and coffee.
How did you learn to cook?
I can’t say I’ve mastered my cooking skills, but I plan to accelerate my learning by finding a few basic recipes that look good, rounding up some willing guinea pigs and conducting a lot of trial and error.
Orana is my favourite, but I eat at Georges on Waymouth more than anywhere else.
Georges has great coffee, fine wine, honest food, and a warm and friendly atmosphere. I think much of the success of Georges has to do with the man himself (George Kasimatis) and his commitment to quality food and exceptional customer service. I also like supporting BankSA customers.
Simon Bryant’s Crispy-Skin Pig Belly, [with] Loquat Jam and Brown Rice, from The Great Australian Cookbook. BankSA supported the cookbook and I had an opportunity to cook with Simon – the crispy-skin pig belly was my favourite recipe.
Crispy-Skin Pig Belly, Loquat Jam and Brown Rice
1kg pig belly (Bryant uses free-range Berkshire)
½ cup (80g) salt
1 stick cassia bark
2 star anise
1 big dried chilli soaked in 45ml rice vinegar (or cider vinegar)
¼ cup (60ml) peanut oil
2 shallots, sliced
2cm piece of ginger, grated
1 tbsp ground coriander
1kg loquats, de-seeded ∗
2 tbsp (40ml) light soy sauce
1/3 cup (70g) coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
4 star anise
1 stick cassia bark
1 cup (250ml) water
handful laksa mint (Vietnamese mint) leaves, for garnish
∗ Fresh loquats are available only in spring; at other times you can substitute with quince, plums, pears or apples.
Flatten pork belly out and score skin 1cm deep with a sharp knife or box cutter. Do not cut the flesh – just the skin and the deep layer of back fat. Rub salt over and leave in the fridge, skin side up and uncovered, for at least a day (the longer the better!).
The next day, pre-heat a fan-forced oven to 200°C.
Wash salt off pork belly, pop it in a steamer skin-side up and steam for about 20 minutes until the skin is all gelatinous and opaque.
Pop cassia and star anise in a shallow roasting pan just big enough to hold the pork, then add the pork skin side up and chuck a scant couple of millimetres of water in the bottom of the pan. Roast for 20 minutes, then drop the temperature to 180°C and roast for a further 30 minutes until the skin is rock hard and blistered. Remove from oven and rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove soaked chilli from vinegar and slice finely, reserving vinegar. Place a heavy-based 2-litre pot over a medium flame, add peanut oil, and fry chilli, shallot and ginger for a couple of minutes, then add coriander and continue to cook for a minute or so. Add all the other ingredients (including reserved vinegar) and simmer for 25 minutes, till the loquats are mushy and the sauce is thick but the fruit still has some structure (ie not baby food!).
Slice off rib bones on the flesh side of the pork belly and slice belly into “soldiers” – the crackling will be rock-hard, so a good bread knife and a gentle sawing action is best for this.
Serve with steamed brown rice and loquat jam, garnished with laksa mint and some simple steamed Asian greens.
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