This could be one of my favourite meals. I adore pork belly, especially when it is cooked slowly in spices so it’s sticky and gelatinous. This salad, which is vibrant with chilli and lime, complements the sweetness perfectly.
This looks like it’s a low carb meal, but due to the amount of sugar , it isn’t really. You could definitely make this more diet friendly by cutting out the sugar in the salad dressing and halving the amount in the pork glaze.
Papaya is not the easiest thing to get hold of – I happen to live close by to a massive oriental supermarket. If you aren’t so lucky, or just want to be a bit lazy, you could also use courgetti in it’s place and it would still be delicious.
- 1kg pork belly, rind removed and chopped into 4cm cubes
- 200g soft light brown sugar
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 5 star anise
- 2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 medium green papaya (about 400g/14oz), peeled, halved and deseeded
- 4 garlic cloves, halved
- 2-3 small red bird's-eye chillies, sliced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
- 50g green beans, halved lengthways
- 2 tbsp grated palm sugar or soft light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- juice of 5 limes
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Place the pork in a roasting tin with the sugar, fish sauce, soy, vinegar, star anise, five-spice and 250ml water. Mix well, cover with foil and roast for 30 mins. Remove the foil, then turn up the heat to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Cook for another 45 mins-1 hr, tossing the pork every 15 mins until tender. Remove the pork from the tin and keep warm. Tip the juices into a pan and reduce to a syrupy sauce.
- While the pork is cooking, prepare the salad. Using a julienning tool or large box grater, shred the green papaya and set aside.
- In a large pestle and mortar, or use the flat end of a rolling pin, pound the garlic and chilli for 1 min or until it is crushed, but still chunky. Add the papaya, carrot, and beans, and gently pound a little more. Add in the palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice, and pound again for 1 min. Mix well and taste to make sure it has enough fish sauce and sugar, it should be tangy, sweet and spicy. Top with the warm pork, drizzle over the sauce and serve.
- Tip: A julienne peeler will get the best results here. If you don't have one, use a spiralizer or buy spiralized carrot and grate the papaya.