Feeling cold and in need of some winter warmth I bought a slab of pork belly from a stall at Brixton Market that sells outdoor reared British pork. 5 ribs worth of pork for under £5 is great value. To balance out the weight of the pig in my left hand I bought a pineapple, mango and some plantain... there's nothing worse than walking up Brixton Hill being weighed down unevenly.
I prepared the pork belly by salting and scoring the skin and then whacking it in a hot oven to blast it for half and hour. Meanwhile, I got the pineapple, mango and plaintain ready and then lobbed them in with the pork and turned the temperature down and cooked the pork for a further 6 hours at 150'c. Some star anise, shit loads of ginger and chilli may have found its way in there as well.
Check on it regularly and pour off excess fat...
It should get a hard, crispy top and the surrounding goodies should become soft and squidgy.
Unfortunately, I am a bit of an idiot when it comes to the subject of plantain. The plantains I had chosen were green and rock solid. I imagined that over the course of 6 hours of cooking they would become soft and add the carby backbone to this dish. Luckily, I tried one before serving only to find that it was harder than a bullet and tasted gross and a bit weird. I have had plantain many times before whilst living in Africa so have a vague knowledge of the stuff... but this was horrible! So I hoyked out all of the plantain and boiled some noodles.
Disaster averted, I separated the juice from the goodies and added some mirin, rice vinegar and soy whilst reducing to a sticky sauce and then served in a deep bowl with some spinach to stop everything looking so brown! Grate ginger on top like you would do with parmersan and spinkle fresh chilli slices on for some much need colour.
Whislt it started out as being inspired by the West Indies, owing to the plantain disaster it landed up being fairly oriental. But the great thing is that the combination of ginger, pineapple, mango, chilli and pork belly is delicious. With some refinement this could become quite special. Pork really lends itself to being eaten with fruit - think apple sauce or gooseberry and elderflower gravy so this is a natural, if slightly tropical progression.
For other pork belly recipes have a look here.