Five spice is a traditional Chinese spice mix that is said to represent five flavours: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty. Combined with hoisin sauce and sugar, it gives a delicious rich brown glaze to pork belly. 






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (78 votes)

The long marinating time ensures that the flavours penetrate deep into the meat. Serve with egg noodles, bok shoy and pickled radish. 


  • 1 kg piece boneless pork belly, about 4-5 cm thick, skin removed
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 bunch baby bok choy, halved lengthways
  • Fried red shallots, to serve (available from Asian grocers)


  • 90 g peeled garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1½ tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 160 ml hoisin sauce
  • 125 ml (½ cup) Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry
  • 6 tbsp soya bean paste or dark miso paste
  • 330 g (1½ cups) white sugar

Pickled radish

  • 20 small radishes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250 ml (1 cup) white vinegar (preferably champagne vinegar)
  • 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar

Garlic oil

  • 125 ml (½ cup) peanut, canola or rice bran oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Egg noodles

  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 500 g fresh thin egg noodles
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) oyster sauce

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


You will need to start this recipe 2 days before serving. Allow 24 and preferably 36 hours for marinating the meat; the pickled radish also needs to stand for at least 6 hours. 

1. For the marinade, place the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle and pound until a paste forms. Transfer to a large stainless steel or glass bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.

2. Cut the pork lengthwise into 3- 4 cm wide strips. Wash the meat in cold water, then pat dry with paper towel. Add the pork to the marinade, stir to coat well, making sure all the meat is submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 36 hours, turning the meat every 6-8 hours. If left for longer than 2 days the meat may become too salty.

3. For the pickled radishes, thinly slice the radishes and place into a bowl with half the salt. Toss to combine well - this draws the liquid out of the radishes so they remain crunchy. Stand for 15 minutes, then drain, give a quick rinse and drain again. Place the vinegar, sugar and remaining salt in a stainless-steel bowl or glass jar and stir until fully dissolved. Add the radishes and stand for 6 hours.

4. Once marinated, preheat oven to 170˚C. Pour about 1 cm of water into the bottom of a roasting tray and place a wire rack on top.  Remove the pork belly from the marinade and place on the wire rack with the outside layer facing upward (this is the fatty layer where the skin has been cut off). Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 140˚C and turn the pork belly upside down. Roast for a further 10-15 minutes or until tender and no pink is visible when you slice through the thickest end. Remove from the tray and just before serving, cut into 1 cm-thick slices.

5. Meanwhile, for the garlic oil, place the oil in a small, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat until it starts to smoke. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and return to medium heat for 7-8 minutes or until the garlic begins to turn slightly light brown. Remove from the heat immediately. Do not allow the garlic to get too dark or it will become bitter. Pour into a heatproof bowl and set aside.

6. For the egg noodles, bring 2 litres of water to the boil in a large saucepan and add the salt and oil. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl full of cold water. Take the egg noodles and loosen the strands. Once the water is boiling, add the noodles and stir for 30 seconds, then use a spider ladle or sieve to remove the noodles and place them in the bowl of cold water for 5 seconds, before returning to the boiling water for another 30 seconds. Drain, place into a bowl and mix in the sesame oil, oyster sauce and 80 ml (⅓ cup) of the garlic oil.

7. Half fill a saucepan with water, add 1 tsp oil and ½ tsp salt and bring to the boil. Add the bok choy and cook for 20 seconds, then drain.  

8. To serve, divide the egg noodles between serving plates, twisting to make a small mound. Divide the pork belly, bok choy and pickled radishes between plates and scatter with fried shallots.


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