This peppercorn pork belly dish is inspired by a recipe that I made from the AWW Pressure Cooker cook book. The picture in the cook book has this amazing thick, caramelised sugar sauce on it, but I have no idea how you’d get that consistency when using a pressure cooker. Sure enough, when I followed the recipe, the dish came out tasting good but the ‘sauce’ was more like a thin soup.
The texture of the pork belly and the idea of using sugar in the sauce kept me thinking about the meal though. Over the next few weeks I kept thinking to myself, I must make that sweet pork belly again with the peppercorns.
I bought a beautiful piece of pork belly from my favourite (albeit slightly expensive) butcher and got together my ingredients. When I quickly checked back to the cook book, I realised there were NO peppercorns in it. For some reason I had remembered it as having peppercorns. Sure enough, I made some changes and included those peppercorns I had dreamt up and the results are delicious.
Using the pressure cooker to cook the pork belly makes the fat totally edible. It’s too thick to really render down, but it turns into this amazing texture that just melts in your mouth. I think Key said it best when he said it’s like eating butter. The pressure cooker even softens the peppercorns to a point where I think they are easily edible. You just get a little pepper kick from them while eating the dish.
I used these small cucumbers which seemed to me like baby continental cucumbers. You could use baby Lebanese cucumbers which I’ve seen in Australia marketed as Cukes or just use a normal sized cucumber.
Pretty sure that I’ve mixed a few Asian cuisines here with the coconut rice, sweet pork and slightly pickled cucumbers but it all just works really well together.
How cute are these baby onions? The cherry tomato is there to give you an idea of how small they are.
The sugar may crystallise when you deglaze but that doesn’t matter at all.
Reducing the sauce quickly after pressure cooking will ensure a sticky glaze on the meltingly soft pork belly.
This coconut rice is something that I’ve started cooking only recently. It’s delicious and really easy. It would also pair well with a hot Indian curry or a quick stir fry with chicken and lemongrass. Pandan can be tricky to find in Australia, but it can be left out and you will still get good results. I used Thai long grain rice for this and full fat UHT coconut milk. Any long grain rice will work well though and you can use canned and/or light coconut milk.
Unfortunately this isn’t the prettiest dish to photograph, but trust me, it’s yummo.
Sticky Peppercorn Pork Belly with Bashed Cucumbers and Coconut Rice
For the Bashed Cucumbers
Ingredients – Serves 4
- 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tbs raw sugar
- 2/3 tsp sesame oil
- 8 small cucumbers
- 1 small garlic clove, smashed with a knife
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and sesame oil in a non metallic bowl. Whisk together with a fork to slightly dissolve the salt and sugar.
- Cut off both ends of the cucumbers, then slice in half and scrape out the seeds with a small spoon.
- Cover the cucumbers with a clean tea towel and bash them with a rolling pin or a bottle to break and squish the cucumber into chunks.
- Add the cucumber pieces and the garlic to the vinegar mix then cover and refrigerate while you prepare the rice and pork, or for at least 30 minutes.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle over the sesame seeds.
For the Pork Belly
Ingredients – serves 4
- 1 kg pork belly, rind removed and cut into large chunks
- 10 baby red onions peeled and halved. Alternatively, roughly cut a large red onion into chunks.
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 3 tbs brown sugar
- 2 tbs shao hsing (shaoxing) wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 star whole anise
- Season the pork generously with salt and pepper.
- In a frying pan, lightly brown the pork in batches in a neutral oil over a medium to high heat. Once done, remove from pan and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium, then add the onions, garlic, ginger and sugar and stir until the sugar starts to caramelize.
- Deglaze with the wine then remove from the heat.
- Add the pork, sugar and onion mix, stock, peppercorns and star anise to the pressure cooker then bring up to pressure and cook for 30 minutes.
- Release the pressure then drain off the sauce from the meat. Set the meat aside while you reduce the sauce.
- To reduce the sauce, heat the same fry pan over a high heat, then add the sauce and bring to a boil. Continue to cook on high for 10 minutes, until the sauce has reduced down to a thicker, sticker sauce.
- Once reduced, add the pork back to the fry pan and stir till it is warmed through.
- Serve the pork and sauce over the coconut rice and garnish with the bashed cucumbers.
For the Coconut Rice
Ingredients – serves 4
- 1 cup long grain white rice – I used Thai long grain
- 1 pandan leaf, tied in a knot (optional)
- 200ml coconut milk – I used full fat UHT
- ½ tsp coconut oil (optional)
- Prepare the rice while the pork is cooking. Add all ingredients to a saucepan with 1 cup of just boiled water and bring it to a slow boil.
- Once slowly boiling, stir it to pick up any grains of rice stuck to the bottom, then cover and reduce the heat to low, cook for 10 minutes.
- Once 10 minutes has elapsed, turn off the heat and leave covered for another 10 minutes. Don’t be tempted to lift the lid.
- When ready to serve, fluff the rice with a fork and add a pinch of salt.