It’s surprising sometimes, where we find inspiration.
This whole post started with a bunch of chives.
On that bunch of chives there were 3 cute little purple flowers.
‘They’ll make a nice garnish’ I said to Kid, both of us furtively poking around the fruit and veg shop.
‘Yep, they sure will. For what?’
Massive, fragrant bunches of coriander and mint stare us in the face, fresh limes and deep red tomatoes glisten, a good slab of pork belly sits at home ready for roasting and we live bay-side now so a few fresh prawns are easy to come by.
I wanted a roast, Kid wanted salad.
Pork and prawns are a classic Sth East Asian combination.
I know because ‘this little piggy’ was lucky enough to visit there in recent years.
And that, my friends if you care to know, was pretty much how we came to this.
Rolled and Roasted Pork Belly w/ Tamarind, Chives and Garlic served with a Fresh Vietnamese Style Prawn Salad.
Ingredients – Pork
1 good slab of pork belly. Allow 300g per person raw weight. Our piece is about 1.5kg.
1 bunch of chives – chopped. Flowers put aside for garnish of course.
1 tablespoon Tamarind paste
5 cloves of garlic – sliced.
A little oil, salt and pepper.
Pre-heat the oven to 160*c. Using a sharp knife, trim the flesh side of the pork until it’s an even thickness. Smear the tamarind paste evenly, scatter the chives and garlic and season with a little salt.Cut butchers twine into 30cm strips. Enough for 1 every 2-3 cm. Lay them evenly on your chopping board and lay the belly on top, skin side down.. Now it gets a little tricky, if you haven’t done this before. Your butcher should oblige if you give him a wink. Roll the belly as tightly as you can. One at a time, starting in the middle and working outwards, tie a slip knot around the pork with each piece of twine, holding the rolled pork in place (if you roll it the day before and tightly cling wrap it over night, this whole process is a bit easier. Just thought I should mention that.)
It doesn’t need to look great, but that string is what’s holding the roast together here so make sure they hold steady.
Now lay the pork on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Throw any extra trim in the pan too, the dogs loved these later on! Score the skin of the pork in regular intervals, careful not to cut the twine. This will make carving possible later on. Rub a little oil, salt and pepper into the skin. Bake for 3hrs, removing to baste every 45mins. Let the pork rest for a bit before serving. There will be a fair bit of fat in the pan, be careful not to burn yourself.
To portion, remove the string using a pair of scissors. Cut along the join of the belly and pull the string away. Saw the pork gently with a sharp knife, using those slashes in the skin to find purchase.
Well done you!
Now go serve it with this salad and a little extra fresh lime.
Vietnamese Style Prawn Salad.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, white radish, spring onions, coriander, mint, crushed peanuts.
2 large cooked King Prawns per person.
We used the Little Cahn Tho salad dressing recipe from this post
Wash and pick the herbs. Slice the vegetables finely – the carrots and radish in particular (if you’re not confident enough to use a knife here, or are just short of time, use a slicer or grater or food processor w/ slicing attachment). Peel the prawns and chop them roughly. Mix everything in a bowl with just enough dressing to combine all of the ingredients, almost like a coleslaw.
What Kid Did
Kid had herbs to wash and pick, prawns to peel, salad to mix and limes to juice.
There was garlic to peel and smash, salad dressing to make and evil zombies to defeat on her game device also.
I don’t know how the zombies faired but the salad dressing was sensational.
Whatever you’ve got left the next day will make an outstanding filling for some rice paper rolls. Oh yes.
This was our first night at home together for a while, so I wanted to go all out with this one. The prawn salad could easily be a meal all on its own and the pork doesn’t need quite so much garlic unless you are fiends like us.
I had just as much fun shopping with Kid for all of the ingredients and talking about them on the way as I did cooking and preparing with her.
Dinner was delicious and worth every minute, so a good result all round.
Lucky we found those chives huh.