Black pepper caramel is great on anything from tuna to pork.
This a great way to cook pork belly, it still stays tender and moist, while also giving you the perfect crackling. Peter Kuruvita's Coastal Kitchen
- 2 kg piece boneless pork belly, skin on
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
- 50 g butter
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 kg Japanese or Kent pumpkin
- 2 tbsp natural honey
- 150 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 50 ml olive oil
Black pepper caramel
- 500 g white palm sugar, finely chopped
- 10 red Asian shallots, finely diced
- 12 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 300 ml red wine vinegar
- 100 ml fish sauce
- 40 black peppercorns, cracked
Tempura enoki mushrooms
- 250 ml (1 cup) ice cold sparkling soda water, mixed with ice
- 150 g (1 cup) plain flour
- Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 100 g enoki mushrooms
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.
Place the pork belly into a steamer and steam over high heat for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Using a sharp knife, score the pork skin, then rub the skin generously with salt.
Meanwhile, for the honey roast pumpkin, preheat the oven to 180˚C. Cut the pumpkin into small thick wedges, leaving the skin on. Place in a small baking dish lined baking paper. Pour over the honey, orange juice and olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until tender.
For the black pepper caramel, place the palm sugar into a saucepan with 50 ml water and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has melted and the caramel starts to bubble. Add the shallots and garlic, then just before the caramel starts to burn, add the vinegar, fish sauce and pepper to stop the cooking process. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes to reduce a little, then remove from the heat and set aside. The caramel should be thick but of a pouring consistency just a bit thicker than honey.
For the crackling, increase the oven temperature to 235˚C. Wrap a piece of heavy-duty foil tightly around the pork, leaving the skin exposed. Place into a small baking dish and pour some water around the pork. Roast for 35 minutes or until the crackling is golden and crisp.
For the tempura mushrooms, just before serving, place the iced soda water, flour, bicarbonate of soda and egg into a bowl and whisk until just combined but still a little lumpy. If too thick add more soda water.
Heat the oil for deep-frying in a heavy-based saucepan or deep-fryer to 180˚C. Break the mushrooms into small clumps. Holding them by the stem end, dip the mushrooms into the tempura batter, then deep-fry until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel.
Drop the asparagus into a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain, refresh in iced water and drain again. Just before serving, brush the asparagus with melted butter and char-grill until lightly charred and heated through. Season to taste.
To assemble, using a knife, take the crackling off the pork and scrape out any excess fat from the underside. Cut some the crackling into strips and roughly chop the remainder. Thickly slice the pork belly. Divide the pumpkin, asparagus and pork belly between plates. Top with crackling strips and chopped crackling, tempura mushrooms and a good drizzle of the black pepper caramel sauce.