Many, many years ago, my great aunt Anna passed away. She was on my mother’s side of the family and a pretty fantastic woman by all accounts. She left to my mother, (amongst other things), a fine bone china tea service. Despite my being only a callow youth at the time, I well remember the beautiful translucent cups and delicate plates. The story went that the only person to whom tea and cakes had been served on that set was the Archbishop of Armagh. Back in the day, he was a man of great influence in Irish society. Having such a service was a rare thing. We really didn’t appreciate it. It spent most of it’s life in our house gathering dust on a basement shelf. I tell you this because there needs to be a good reason for any Irish person to get the good plates out. This easy to cook oriental delight is a great reason. So, with distant memories of Great Aunt Anna’s tea service, I present you with Sticky Oriental Pork Squares.
The ingredients list for this dish is short and sweet.
- 1 kilo of best pork belly, bones removed*
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of rice wine
- 1 tablespoon of palm sugar
- 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
*Get your butcher to remove the skin too, if you haven’t the wit or desire to do it yourself.
Skin the pork belly like I do in the picture. Don’t remove too much of the fat. Fat equals flavour.
Side note on quality pork belly; If you buy cheap, cement-cell reared pork, you shouldn’t waste your time making this dish. The meat will be awful, will probably fall apart and the end result will be pretty unappealing too.
Slice the meat into 3cm (1 inch) cubes.
Side note on what to do with the skin: You could maker a sheet of crackling out of the skin. To do this, scald it with a kettle of boiling water. This will tense the skin. Rub it all over with salt and black pepper. Rub the skin side with a little oil. Roast it in a hot oven, skin side up until nice and crispy but not burned. This won’t take too long, keep an eye on it. When it’s cooked, let it cool and break it into shards. Enjoy.
Place the pork cubes into a large pot of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain it and let it dry completely before frying it in a wok, using a little oil.
When the pork starts to brown at the edges, add the soy sauce and rice wine. Flame off the alcohol by tipping the wok to the flame. (This is fun to do and totally unnecessary as the alcohol will steam off as the wok heats.)
Stir the dish until the sauce thickens a little. Add the sugar and keep stirring. The sauce will thicken quickly and will start to coat the pork.
When the sauce is almost glue-like, remove from the heat and place in a serving bowl. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds, ring the Archbishop’s palace and invite him over. Remember to use the good dishes. Generations of Archbishops have been eating from fine bone china, or so I hear.
Footnote of admission: I have to come clean, I am guilty of having a ‘best’ dinner set too. It’s the one in the pictures. We bought it soon after we got married (over 30 years ago) and if we have used it a dozen times, that is about the height of it. Perhaps I should cook more of this delightful pork so I have an excuse to use it. The chances of the Archbish visiting here are pretty slim….