Slow cooked pork belly in soy sauce

One of the best meals I can remember eating in Australia was a slowly cooked pork belly.

I had a go replicating it this evening.

A pan half filled with water was put on to boil and the pork belly was lowered in.

As the water came to the boil I tipped in a pint of soy sauce which had been been mixed with a quarter pint of sake. That came to a simmer and the seasoning was then added. This consisted of a stick of coriander, three star anise, a finely sliced thumb of ginger,some chilli, a dash of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of redcurrant jelly.After an hour I added twenty cloves of garlic.

Everything was then left to simmer for a few hours. Every so often I turned the pork over. When it felt soft and giving I took it out and put it on a warm plate whilst I boiled down the sauce into a thick black salty gravy. This was then poured over the pork. Spring onions, chilli and coriander was scattered and we ate it with rice and spinach.

It all came courtesy of Simon Hopkinson. We listened to Etta James.

Listening to Waylon

That was a relaxing Saturday. So relaxing that the asparagus I bought this morning are still in fridge downstairs having been forgotten in the midst of everything else we have had to eat. This has included four smart leeks from the sorry clumps I bought from Bantry Market last summer. They are just coming into their own and they gave off a good onion smell as they came out of the ground.

We had them with lamb chops and chicken, bright green falafel and yogurt, tomato salad and padron peppers.

Having done the eating we are listening to Waylon Jennings singing his dreams although I am not sure how much notice is being taken.

Bob Wills is still the king….

The Reliance

It may say too much about me but if I find myself in a strange town and in need of something to eat then one of the first things I do is type in the name of where I am followed by The Guardian and see what comes up. It has worked okay in the past and it worked okay this evening.

There was a list of cheap eats for Leeds and somewhere down the bottom of the list the name of a place that did charcuterie and good beer. It was difficult to resist.

The only problem was my hotel was the other side of the city but that didn’t matter too much as there was time to kill and halfway across on the walk I found a pub that had about eight real ales and twice as many ciders. I resisted the cider and tucked into a pint and some chilli pork scratchings. I wasn’t sure about the chilli but I came to regret them later.

It was quiet inside The Reliance but I was sat down and given a pint. There was a blackboard list of charcuterie on the wall and I was supposed to choose what I wanted but I didn’t pay enough attention as I ordered and so found myself with a plate of it all.

There were two slabs of pâté, two large piles of salami, gherkins, baby Spring opinions and four slabs of good bread. There was enough for two. I just about managed to get through it all.

As I pushed the empty board back another plate was put in front of me – a pigeon cooked in red wine with pancetta. As I sucked on the last bone I could feel my belly stretching another couple of inches. It was a good job I had a 30 minute walk back to the hotel and a replete nights sleep.


The first asparagus

Saturday and Claremont Farm were selling the first of this seasons asparagus.

I wasn’t sure how many I was feeding so I made sure I bought too much.

I had thought about making an asparagus tart but when they are this new it didn’t take long to convince myself to cook them simply in boiling water and then slather them with plenty of butter, salt and pepper.

The asparagus were followed by smoked haddock croquettes. Having had them a few weeks ago in London it appears they are turning into my favourite food. There is a need for a small assembly line when making them.

They are one of those dishes that can be made up over the course of an afternoon. I started by weighing out the fish and then weighing up a similar amount of potatoes. The potatoes were peeled, boiled and then mashed with a small amount of butter.

As they cooled the haddock was poached until just done in milk.

The potatoes and haddock were then turned into each other with some English mustard, finely chopped parsley and dill, some of the milk from the potatoes and plenty of salt and pepper.

The assembly line was then set up; a small dish of flour, followed by egg and then breadcrumbs.

The potatoes and haddock mixture was taken in hand and cupped into a suitable croquette like shape, covered in flour, dipped in egg and then covered in breadcrumbs. They went into the fridge until I was ready to cook.

The cooking was done in hot oil. We had them with salad dressed with gherkins and capers, vinegar and plenty of good oil and eggs boiled until the yolk was still soft.

They were followed by blueberry syllabub. A dish that is almost too easy to make.