Navel Gazing – Pork Belly With Orange Sauce

The more I mull introspection the more I see it as an interesting phenomenon. A couple of weeks ago, I prepared Asian Style Pork Belly With Orange Sauce. I was, and still am, delighted with the dish. I ran into difficulties while thinking about writing about it. The big problem is that it’s just too easy to prepare and many people might say “That looks simple, let’s not bother.” That would be a mistake. So, for the past couple of weeks, I have wondering about how to present it. Introspective musing took over. It finally shifted this morning as I looked at a display of lovely Navel oranges in a Dublin fruit and vegetable shop. They were the same Navel oranges as I used in my sauce.

That unblocked my thinking. I got my writing idea as I was quite literally “Navel gazing”.


  • 1.2kg piece of free range, rare breed pork belly
  • 6 Navel oranges (ignore the fact that there are only 2 in the picture
  • 2 teaspoons of five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 star anise

As befits a navel gazer, there is very little to this recipe. Please don’t allow that to put you off trying it. I highly recommend it. The first thing to do is pour a kettle full of boiling water over the skin of the pork. This will tighten the skin and help with the crisping process. Pat the meat dry. Slice through the skin and layer of fat to create a nice diamond pattern. rub the meat all over with five spice, salt and pepper. Place the meat on a rack and pop it into the fridge for an hour or two.

The fridge time gives the seasoning time to penetrate the meat.

Give the skin a rub with a little cooking oil. Place the joint, on a rack, into a very hot oven (220ºC/430ºF fan). Let it roast for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 180ºC/ 360ºF, no fan. Leave it to do its thing for a further 40 minutes. This should give a perfect result with tender layered meat and fat topped with a crispy spiced, salty skin.

Lovely crispy pork skin makes all the difference.

The sauce is a doddle to do and can be completed in the time the meat is in the oven. Pour the sugar into a saucepan.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist taking a pouring shot.

Squeeze the oranges into the same pot. Ignore any pips that get in there as they will get sieved out later. Add the star anise to the pot and place it on a medium heat. Bring it to a gentle boil and reduce by about two-thirds.

The star anise adds a lovely flavour to the simple orange sauce.

Sieve the sauce into another pot, ready for reheating and serving. I served this up on a bed of couscous seasoned with chilli, coriander, salt and pepper. It was easy and delicious.

Don’t let the simple preparation put you off. This was delicious.

If you find yourself getting all introspective and spend some time Navel gazing, buy the oranges and make this dish.

Written by
Latest comments
  • That pork looks done to perfection!

  • Simply beautiful, in both senses of the word.
    I rarely have time to do the whole kettle/fridge resting thing to tighten up the skin, so I’ve got into stripping off the skin when the pork is cooked and putting it under a red hot grill. It puffs up like porky popcorn and the Husband now insists on having his crackling done that way every time.

      • You do have to watch it carefully and avoid distraction, but it doesn’t take long.

  • this has got to be the MOST clever blog post title in the known universe! I love it! Just brilliant!

    made it hard for me to even concentrate on the recipe, which of course is equally mesmerizing….

  • Yum yum

  • Lovely deceptively simple lesson even I can follow – and shall ! Now to go to my favourite butcher and show him your piece of meat: hope to get a smile and a walk to the cool room! Oh, did ‘like’ your pouring shot on Instagram . . . you do have that perfect 🙂 !

  • I read that as ‘navel glazing’, must have been influenced by the pouring picture. Lovely recipe again, Conor.

  • That looks great and very Conoresque. The photo does not only have less oranges, but also more sugar than the recipe. A bit of ginger would be a nice addition I believe.

  • I love this simply lovely recipe… what’s not to like? I have recently come across equally simple recipes ( not for pork) which have delighted me.. so no misplaced ‘snobbery’ here! I can’t wait to try this one. Oh and the action shot ( I’ve not attempted one) … sweet!

  • With very little to the delicious looking recipe, there could be a run on pork belly. 😀

  • The pork looks tender and juicy. The photos looks delicious and tasty with that orange sauce. Now I know what to cook on our family gathering this coming Saturday.

  • I have made this a few times now very easy and tasty .. I cook my pork belly in the air fryer perfect every time

Join the conversation, you know you want to....

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: