Thursday, 10 January 2013

What Katie Ate: Vietnamese Salad with Pork Belly

Some of you guys may remember that late last year I got to meet one of my blogging hero's, Katie Quinn Davies from What Katie Ate. Well, along with getting to meet her, I got to take a sneak peak at her recipe book that was released just before Christmas and I was totally inspired. So many recipes I wanted to try, so many beautiful photo's to drool over. There was no way I wasn't going to get my hands on a copy of that book when it launched. My lovely producer at work even managed to get my copy signed. Thanks Mich!!! Have I told you recently that YOU'RE AWESOME!!!
The Christmas break for me was a fantastic time to sit down and look through some new recipe books (MUST. Stop. Buying. Recipe books!!) and try our some new recipes. In fact, I had to make a concerted effort to not cook, because if I didn't, I'd have more food than I could eat. On the last Saturday in December I found myself surprisingly with no plans. I spent the morning starting to read 'Modernist Cuisine at Home' that I got for Christmas from my sister (an amazing cook book that goes way beyond recipes that I'm only just starting to explore and devour) until I realised that I'd actually have time that evening to do some proper cooking. So after much pondering and weighing up of choices, I decided to try something from Katie's recipe book, Vietnamese Salad with Pork Belly. After all, I'd have the time that evening to let something cook for 2.5hrs.

Results were delicious. The mixture between the salty, crunch pork, the soft sweet papaya topped with a balanced Asian dressing was perfect for a summers evening. I made half the recipe and the whole dressing amount, but actually used up all the salad for dinner, so if I were to make it again, I'd probably double the salad amount, and maybe even the dressing amount. But most importantly, the crunchy pork belly turned out...well, perfect.

Ingredients, serves 4 (although I would double the salad and dressing amounts)
1KG pork belly
Sea salt (I use Maldon)
Olive Oil
2 - 3 spring onions
1 long, red chilli
1/2 large cucumber
1 Green papaya (I used small normal papaya, and I think the sweetness contrasted well with the saltiness of the pork)
Handful coriander leaves
Handful mint leaves
1/2 C roasted, unsalted peanuts
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
3 Tsp fish sauce
2 Tsp soy sauce
2 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs finely grated palm sugar
1 Bird's Eye Chilli (small and strong)
Sesame seeds, to garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 240 degree celsius, fan-forced. It sounds hot, but it will start the pork belly getting nice and crunchy.

Put the pork belly on a board, skin side up and make sure it's nice and dry. Grab a very sharp nice, and score the skin  in 1 - 1.5cm intervals so that the skin is in nice strips that will crispen up perfectly. Be careful NOT to cut down to the meat (...unless you're me who read to be careful TO cut down to the meat. Teach me to read recipes properly. But it was OK. Not a major disaster). Rub the skin with a heap of sea salt, making sure you get into the slits. The recipe says to use 2.5 tsps. I didn't measure, but I do know that I didn't use the salt sparingly.
Turn the meat over, and rub the underside with a good glug of olive oil, a nice sprinkling of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper. The oil on the bottom helps make sure the bottom is nice and crunchy, as well as the top.

Put the pork in a roasting tin, skin side up and stick it in the oven for 30mins. After 30mins, the skin will be starting to crispen up nicely.
Turn the oven down to 180 degrees celsius and cook the pork for a further 2hrs. I checked on it ever once in a while, but honestly, did nothing to it. After 2hrs, if the crackling hasn't hardened all over, turn the oven up to 200 degrees celsius and cook it for another 20mins, or until it's all lovely and crackling like. To check that it's properly crispened up, just tap it with the back of a spoon, and it should sounds solid and hard. Once you're happy the pork belly is cooked, take it out of the oven and put it onto a wire cooling wrack over a plate or dish and let it cool completely.

While the pork is cooking, or cooling, you'll have plenty of time to make the salad and dressing.

To make the salad, thinly slice the 2 - 3 spring onions. I chopped the spring onions in half first, just to make them easier to slice.
Take the seeds out of the red chilli and thinly slice it.
Chop the cucumber in half, length-ways, and scoop out the seeds in the centre, then dice up the cucumber.
Take the seeds out of the centre of the papaya, and peel it. Thinly slice it or dice it up into small cubes.
Tear up a handful of the coriander leaves and the mint leaves.
Combined these all in a nice big bowl, along with the 1/2 C of roasted, unsalted peanuts and that's the salad done.

To make the salad dressing, take the seeds out of the bird's eye chilli and finely dice it. Combine the chilli, 2 tbs rice wine vinegar, 3 tsp fish sauce, 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tbs lime juice and 1 tbs finely grated palm sugar in a container and mix it together. And that's the dressing done.
Once the pork has nicely cooled, dice it into small cubed. You can use the score lines in the crackling as a guide for the first set of cuts.
To make sure everyone gets their fair share of the crispy crackling, this is the type of salad that's nice to serve on individual plates, rather than in one big bowl (although you can serve it in one bowl if you want). Mix as much of the dressing into the salad as you like. I generally like a lot of dressing, but other people aren't as generous with their dressing as me. Serve the salad onto the individual plates, and then put the pork on-top of the salad. Sprinkle the salads with some sesame seeds, and a little bit of torn mint if you'd like, and voila, salad done. Not tricky, but impressive. And with the green stuff and fruit, the crispy pork seems just that bit healthier...hehehe...


  1. I only just saw this Liss! That looks amazing - we love Katie. Thanks for your mention *shucks*. Do you have a sago recipe? I'm looking to make a China Doll/Misschu inspired coconut lychee something, might go well as dessert for this?! Yum, going to attempt it. Mish x

    1. Hi there, I notice in your photographs you have used a regular onion but called it a 'spring onion'. Just for the record, in Australia (where Katy is) and the UK, a 'spring onion' is a SCALLION....and I think a scallion is what this recipe actually calls for. Still looks lovely tho! Best, Karen x

    2. Misshhhh....I'm so my total business to get out of the country I didn't have a chance to reply to this post. I don't actually have any sago recipes. I've never actually cooked with it. But if you give me some time, I can do some research and test one out for you (unless you found one you want me to test already?).

      Hi Karen, thanks for your message. Looking at the recipe book I have, it actually says spring onions. I think Katie actually may adjust her ingredients/weights for different countries. But you're right, I didn't actually use a spring onions and I should have noted that. I didn't use normal onions though, they would have been way to strong. I used small little salad onions (at least I think that's what they're called :-) so many choices and so confusing with the different names in different countries!). Thanks! Lissx

  2. hmmm the spring onion thing, im in australia too and never heard of a scallion. i thought the picture was a spring onion. Isnt a spring onion the little white onion that has the eschallot attached to it??? arrrghh think i'll just throw in whatevers available lol. I think a little red onion would go nice truth be told......