Recipe: Prawn and Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Leaf Wraps with Carrot Salad

Recipe: Prawn and Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Wraps

Recipe: Prawn and Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Wraps

The inspiration for these patties comes from fond memory of a lovely trip to Sydney some years ago, pre blogging, so I have never written about it here. Particularly, of an evening in a Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown. Now, brace yourselves. At the time, I didn’t eat meat. It is ok really – calm down – it really is ok.

I ordered a prawn on sugar cane dish. I asked what was in it, was there any meat? No just prawns, don’t worry. Any meat at all, any pork? (I expected there would be). No, no! Just garlic! The waitress looked at me, suddenly worried and said: do you have a problem with garlic?

No, no I don’t. Bring it on.

I took a bite. SAUSAGE. Pork sausage with a lick of the sea. It was lovely and I couldn’t resist it. I conferred with the waitress who said, why yes, there is pork in there! Of course there is.

I ate every bit, it was delicious. And that taste memory, and the recall of a lovely dinner with an old friend, is what inspires this recipe today.

These patties are super speedy, packed with flavour and versatile. I have been eating them all week in different guises. As sandwich fillings, as meatballs in a beautiful aromatic home made chicken broth made from raw chicken carcasses and lots of veg, served with noodles, bean sprouts, pak choi and fresh herbs. That should keep any illness at bay.

The simplest and quickest way was a fresh light lunch of these patties in lettuce leaf wraps with a light carrot, coriander and red onion salad. I made a big batch of the paste and stored it in the fridge, using it as I fancied over the course of 3 days.

I will post the recipe for the soup soon too. For now, enjoy these wraps.

Carrot, coriander and red onion salad

Carrot, coriander and red onion salad

Note on the recipe: a food processor is best for this, if you have one. I have been asked if it is possible to substitute chicken for pork. I will work out the recipe for this too and post it. You can half the recipe too, obviously, if you are making for one or two.

Recipe: Prawn & Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Leaf Wraps with Carrot Salad

Makes approx 10 patties


600g minced pork – avoid lean, fat gives moisture and flavour, I used 8% fat
400g raw shelled and deveined prawns
2 red chillies (to taste – I like heat)
1 stick of lemongrass, outer layer peeled and bottom removed
1 inch of ginger, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 spring onions, trimmed with green tops
handful of coriander leaves
juice of a fresh lime
sea salt

a couple of heads of gem lettuce

Carrot salad:
3 carrots, peeled and grated
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
a handful of fresh coriander
juice of a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced and crisped for about 30 seconds on each side

light oil for frying


Soak the red onion for the salad in the lemon juice, while you make the patties, so that the sharpness of the raw onion mellows out.

Put all of the ingredients for the patties, except the pork and prawns, in a food processor and blitz to a paste. Add the pork and prawns. Blitz until thoroughly mixed and a paste. Season with sea salt and fry a small bit to taste. Adjust and repeat if necessary.

Divide the patties into 10 pieces and fry for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, until brown and cooked through. Don’t overcook or they will become dry.

Add the carrot and the coriander to the onion and lemon juice and mix. Serve each patty in a lettuce leaf with the salad on the side and the crisped garlic on top.



Recipe: Smokin’ Hot Red Eye Ribs

Smokin' Hot Red Eye Ribs

Now I loved that bacon jam. And it opened my eyes to using coffee in a marinade. Why not? It worked so well there it was bound to be a winner. Then a friend told me about red eye gravy, a coffee gravy served over ham in the American deep South. Coffee and pork are two of my favourite things in this world. The die was cast.

Pork ribs are a much under valued and underused cut of meat. So cheap, so full of flavour, I expect it must be because people don’t know what to do with them. (fyi – in response to a comment below – I am of course referring to the UK & Ireland here. I know they eat lots of them elsewhere). Marinaded ribs are wonderful on the BBQ but also great cooked low and slow in the oven until the meat teases slowly from the bone. Then, and only then, are they are ready to eat.

Smokin' Hot Red Eye Ribs

The secret to all marinaded meat recipes is time, so make sure you marinade them for long enough. Aim for a minimum 2 hours, overnight is best. I used chipotle in adobo again in these, it is one of my favourite things to use at the moment. So versatile with a rich smoky heat. You can get it online quite easily if you are not an urbanite like myself. Otherwise substitute with your favourite chilli, or chipotle chilles (dried or fresh).

Now when choosing pork ribs you have two options: baby back ribs or spare ribs. I love both and on this occasion had some pork spare ribs to try from the London Fine Meat Company, an online butchers based in London. The ribs were big and meaty and delivered at £4.70 a pack (approx 12 big ribs in each). I will use them again, time is such a precious commodity these days.

I made these for friends and they loved them, hope you enjoy them too. These ribs were big so 3 per person was perfect. You may choose to make more, and why not when you are roasting them for so long. You might as well make the most of the oven. Shredded leftovers would make a great sandwich filling or Asian noodle salad.

Recipe: Smokin’ Hot Red Eye Ribs

Serves 2

6 pork spare ribs


500ml fresh brewed coffee
3 chipotles & 3 teaspoons of the adobo sauce (or substitute with chilli), finely chopped
80 ml cider vinegar
4 tbsp rich brown sugar like molasses sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
generous pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients for the marinade and massage ito the ribs. Cover and refrigerate for minimmum 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 150 deg C.
Put the ribs and marinade in a high sided tin and cover with foil.
Roast gently for 2.5 – 3 hours until the meat pulls off the bone, basting with the juices every half an hour.
Rest the ribs for 5 minutes under foil before serving. If the marinade hasn’t reduced to a sticky sauce (it should haev), reduce gebntly over a medium heat in a saucepan and serve poured on top of the ribs.
Eat with your fingers! It’s wrong not to.


Guilty Pleasures: Part Deux

Guilty Pleasures: Part Deux. This time its serious!

Guilty Pleasures: Part Deux. This time it's serious!

It’s always fun to be a little naughty, let the hair down, do something different. It doesn’t come much better that indulging in your guilty pleasures. Things you know you shouldn’t have, because they’re not good for you, they’re horribly processed or they’re frowned upon (although that doesn’t bother me, frankly). So, following on from our first Guilty Pleasures Dinner Party, I hosted Part Deux last night. The premise is that all attendess bring a guilty pleasure, some food and others wine/beer. What could go wrong?

Unfortunately, what I was most guilty of was being under prepared. I have a stupidly long to do list of things that need to be achieved by the end of this week, and I only started getting organised 10 minutes before the front door bell rang, and my first guest, Helen of Food Stories arrived. I had intended to go to the shop to buy wine glasses, as my flatmate had lovely ones that I used, but she has just moved out and I am left with those tiny wretched ones which reek of the eighties amongst other things. Perhaps perfect for Guilty Pleasures, except I hate them. Unfortunately, I had no time and it was raining so heavily, I was also lacking in motivation with regard to actually leaving the house. So that put me in a bit of a position at the very last minute for I didn’t have the materials for my own Guilty Pleasures. I improvised and everything seemed fine.

Except it wasn’t. That essential appliance, the fridge, decided it no longer wanted to be cold, favouring a temperature more suited to a summers day. I tried everything I could, given I had no knowledge at all, and in desperation called the miele customer service line. Little did I know I was about to enter an alternate dimension where I could be given no info on how to fix this, without my landlords precise details, for there are data protection issues when it comes to giving out information on fridges. Eh?! It’s just a fridge, not a nuclear missile!

Helen & I poked and prodded, but no joy. So we did what we could and eventually it righted itself, sadly not quickly enough to chill the lovely Bisol Jeio Prosecco. So, we moved the Bisol portion to the end of the evening, which actually worked rather well.

Along came the other guests. Chris had with him many guilty pleasures, cheese strings, pepperami, lots of beer. We were off!

First up, was a toast to the late Keith Floyd. Dan of Bibendum said that Floyd had said the best wines for him were those from the South of France and cheap, so Dan brought along a bottle of Domaine de Montplo, Chrysalide 2005, a fine red, I think Floyd would have been happy with our choice.

I was making little chorizo pizzas with homemade dough. As I hadn’t left the house, cheese was lacking so I improvised and used mascarpone and a light covering of parmesan. After fridgegate, I hadn’t the strength to worry or do anything about it, so I just got on with it. I put the spiced pork belly in the oven to roast and Lizzie started on her spam pancake, for she is a lover of spam.

Helen prepared her boiled eggs with anchovy soldiers, saving her piece de resistance, David Lebovitz’s candied bacon ice cream until last. Now, that was fantastic! I am actually going to buy an ice cream maker just to make this stuff. Creamy with crisp pieces of bacon and bacon on top, as David himself says, bacon and eggs, what’s not to love? I have to agree.

Dan brought his superb and extremely hot sleazy cheesey chilli nachos. Lots of fun, having lots of chillis AND Dave’s insanity sauce. Dan was organised and brough his chilli already made. Added to this, we sampled some truffle popcorn. Yes, really! Reactions to this were mixed but I really liked it, and look forward to having it again. It’s very naughty and seems wrong, but tastes oh-so-right.

Denise and Dan brought lots of wine, less guilty than surprising and some delicious. There were some gems in there and I’ll be seeking them out. I expect some info on these from Denise & Dan soon on their blogs.

All the best parties have a gatecrasher and we had one too. A tiny snail crawled in the open window and sat watching from his vantage point. I didn’t even see him, hooray for Dan who gently put him outside, although we think we may have cracked his shell, he was really tiny.

So, another fun night and another culinary adventure. Guilty Pleasures Parties are my new preferred mode of entertainment! Do have one. It’s recession proof raucous fun.


Week 5 at the market – Slow Roast Pork Shoulder Baps

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder - looks small but it was enormous!

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder - looks small but it was enormous!

I promised myself that I would be more organised last week, I really did. And I thought that I was. Why then did I run out of time again? Ack, it became so frustrating and exhausting I really started to question if this was worthwhile.  Can I make a go of this realistically? I want to, I really do, but it’s difficult.

I have made some progress. I’m now getting my meat delivered, saving me a trip to the butchers. This may not seem like much but it’s a few hours all in all, and this makes an enormous difference. Online farmer’s market Paganum, who I have used in the past, seemed like the perfect solution. I can order those large & heavy cuts of meat, know that they are well sourced (all Yorkshire produce), and Chris will ensure that these are delivered to me on time, saving my wrists, and time. One step forward. Hooray.

How then did I find myself lost in Tottenham, on Wednesday afternoon when I should have been in the throes of pastry making, chorizo chopping, industrious tart production etc. HOW? It’s completely ridiculous, I had a list, and I knew what I had to do, but then I had an idea, and I had to act on it. Brilliant if you’re cooking dinner for a few people, but when mass producing (ish) to deadline, and trying to do it well, best to be practical and stick to THE LIST. Lesson learned. Creativity is useful and important but practicality is very important too. Balance, where are you? Hoping for a visit next week.

To that end, I need to source more of my products online and have them delivered, allowing me more time to make. I adore Natoora and use them for my personal shopping, they have a fantastic and seasonal range and a great delivery service, but I am not sure this is right for the stall. I need somewhere I can buy large amounts. Any ideas?

Pork & chorizo rolls in homemade butter shortcrust pastry

Pork & chorizo rolls in homemade butter shortcrust pastry

This week I varied the offerings. I will continue to do this, perhaps not every week, but I feel it’s important, however, practicality deems that old favourites should remain, and so I made pork and chorizo rolls again, and had return visitors to buy them. In fact, what has been really lovely is we have now built up a stream of regulars and this week had a queue, which was fantastic. The downside to this was that I wasn’t prepared in terms of volume and we were sold out of our main offerings before 2pm.

So, what was this? This week I slow roasted a shoulder of pork, and made some homemade blaas, a traditional bread peculiar to Waterford (where I am from), a gorgeous fluffy bap with a little sweetness that was great with the pork. I served the pork in the blaas with spiced apple relish and rocket. It was a labour of love, as most good things are, but the results were lovely, a delicious moist pork with a smashing crackling, also spiced. I really found it difficult not to devour it there and then.

Homemade blaas

Homemade blaas

The blaas, I made fresh on the morning with a not so delicious early start, but bread has to be fresh, otherwise, what’s the point? Waking up the yeast with a little sugar and warm water, coaxing it from sleep, I wished I could be as easy to wake up. I was struggling last Thursday morning, motivation was at an all time low. Several rounds of kneading, proving, rising, proving, rising again, and finally (!) baking, produced fluffy white paps, which were a great home for the pork and spiced apple relish.

We had a different wine this week which was a gorgeous match with the pork and rolls, Macatela 2006, a spanish red from Tierra de Castilla. A delicious organic wine at a bargain £3.50 a glass, more on that over on Denise’s blog – The Wine Sleuth. Some regulars were asking after Bisol, and I must confess that I missed my glass or two of it, it’s so good, so it will return next week. We will have both the rose and the white prosecco, and also a matched wine courtesy of Denise. Variety is the spice of life, to use the cliche.

Denise and the delicious vino

Denise and the delicious vino

Sadly, time as always was limiting, so apologies to people who came looking for tarts, these will return next week. I am also hoping to do some sweet treats for the afternoon.

Another new development this week! I will be sending the menu by email, so if you want to receive the weekly menu by email, sign up here.

So, we’ll continue, and look forward to seeing you next week! We’ll have more food and will hopefully run out, but not as early as last week. Get down early and tuck in :)

By the way, if you have suggestions for food you’d like to see on the stall, I would love to hear them. Please get in touch.

Pork & Chorizo Rolls


Junior Apprentice and 6 Hour Slow Roast Pork

A title you wouldn’t see very often, or would you? Junior Apprentice branched into cheesemongering this week and were my neighbours at the Covent Garden Real Food Market. It added a little spark to the day, and nosey ole me kept a close eye on proceedings, although I was careful to dodge their camera, having no ambition to appear on any form of The Apprentice, even as an innocent and very nosey bystander. I can’t bear the show.

I have been in front of the camera before. I have been on TV before in a starring role on ” A Prayer at Bedtime”. I jest but also it is true, it was a favour to a friend producing them at the time. It was laced with ironies, and every elderly lady in Cork loved me for a time, and that, my friends, was my brief sojourn into TV.

This one was quite funny as they seemed to have a mix of the usual characters, some grafters working hard, persuading people to buy cheese, not stopping in their efforts and quite understated in their dress. And then there were the others, there to make an impact, sporting striking clothes, one a bright white beret and sparkling red lipstick. Who am I to judge? She may be the brightest of the bunch and did manage to sell £50 worth of cheese to a neighbouring startled trader. Although,  I did also heard her describe one of the many cheeses to a customer: “well, it’s basically, like, a blue cheese”. I sound like a snob. In truth, I would have been the same at that age. It was amusing to witness however. I’ll take what I can get.

Lingering in the background all the while was a large production crew, frantically scribbling notes, guiding, instructing, ordering, directing. Sternly overseeing all junior apprentice activity was Nick Hewer. I caught him glaring at me and my camera at one point. Haha!

Junior Apprentice aside, this week had the usual mix of drama and high activity. In my fourth week now, I am still coming to grips with how these things work and I am, as ever, a horrible chronoptimist (defined by the urban dictionary as a person who always under estimates the time necessary to do something or get somewhere – HELLO, c’est  moi). This week, culminating with me in a state of slight panic the morning of the market wondering how I could get everything done, having utterly stretched myself. Ambitious as always, aiming to deliver too much and not as organised as I should be. I always do this, and always get very annoyed if what I do is even slightly under par. I felt as I did before all exams, underprepared and extremely annoyed with myself, hoping to scramble through. Stressful.

I made it though, and I survived.

The drama started ever before I approached my kitchen with the sourcing of ingredients. Last week I asked my butcher if I could order bone in shoulder of pork and he assured me that I didn’t need to, that they always have some out the back. I was surprised, following the high drama associated with getting one for my birthday. So, off I trundled on Wednesday, ready to purchase my shoulder of pork, bone in. They had none. CRAP. Already I was having problems with the bread with no time to make it, and through the advice of the wonderful Willie Lebus of Bibendum, had managed to secure a new order via Sally Clarke’s bakery (fabulous bread & service, I will be using them again).

What to do? I couldn’t use bone out, I wanted to slow roast it, and needed the bone to retain the moisture and add flavour. I wasn’t sure how pork belly would work cold in a sandwich, without experimenting it was too risky to try. They did have a leg of pork, bone in. I was a little worried as this is a much leaner cut of meat, and the fattier cuts lend themselves better to a slow roast. I thought I should give it a try. They’re a great butcher and the meat is high quality, it’s as good a place to start as any.

Anxiously I wheeled my third leg home in my new bright pink shopping cart, wondering how best to do this. It was heavy, as was the chorizo and minced pork I had also purchased, and my wrists were starting to ache. I was getting stressed, and I needed to reel it in, so that I could get everything done, and do it well.

I prepared the roast, exactly as I had done with the shoulder. Pouring some boiling water over first, drying and salting with a sea salt and fennel seed rub. Roasting at maximum temperature for 40 minutes to crisp the crackling and reducing to a little lower than the shoulder as there was less fat to protect the meat, 150 degrees this time for 5 hours or so, basting occasionally, turning the temperature up for the remainder, or until the crackling was perfectly crisp all over.

The result? A perfectly good roast leg of pork with great crackling, but I don’t find these leaner meats as appealing to slow roast, and as they cool they can dry out. The meat close to the bone was moist and delicious but that closer to the skin, despite being protected by a layer of fat, for me just wasn’t as good as it could have been with a fattier joint. I know fat isn’t healthy, but it is tasty, and you do need it for this.

I served it with a celeriac and parsley salad, although in hindsight something like a remoulade might have been better, the leaner meat could probably have done with the extra moisture while cushioned in the bread. The bread was really great, half was a white buttermilk roll which was sweet and light, and the other half a nuttier wholemeal, with some butter in the dough. Both good partners for the pork.

In addition I made chorizo and pork rolls. These I played with for some time, knowing that cold they would not have the unctous fat providing moisture. Encased in a homemade butter shortcrust, they were quite popular, selling out early in the day. I’ll be making more of these this week, with a couple of tweaks.

If  you were vegetarian or weren’t a pork fan for religious reasons or otherwise, there were three vegetarian tarts: beetroot, ricotta & mint; pumpkin, spinach & roquefort and last weeks start burnt aubergine with feta and also red pepper this week. There was no wine this week unfortunately as Denise had to work, and so I sailed the ship solo. However, my aforementioned hero, Willie, arrived on the scene with two bottles of delicious red, proclaiming them perfect partners with the pork. A bottle of D’Arenberg Derelict Vineyard Grenache, 2006 & Chianti Rufina Fattoria di Basciano 2007. He was right, and we enjoyed a glass, as did several other visitors who I gave tasting portions.

No sweet treats this week, these I had to shelve as I was running out of time. Learning, as I am, this week I’ll be more realistic, and I will endeavour to have some there.

So, that’s it. Another day at market, another frantic day of prep, and 16 hour Thursday. The Thursday is actually the best day, as I do get a buzz from being there. The build up is a killer though.

This week: less chornoptimism, more organisation, and help from Dan from Food Urchin should make it a thoroughly enjoyable week. I’ve also ordered the shoulders of pork this week and hope to have them delivered, saving my wrists and my sanity. And I may attempt the bread. I’ll plan it out on Tuesday, so watch this space. Denise will be matching the wines this week, she’s going to get back to me and let me know what these are, and I in turn will share here.

Thanks to everyone who came again, it warms the heart so it does. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did.

The full photoset is on flickr.


Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

Complex, you would think? A gorgeous hunk of meat, that is full of flavour and moisture. A HUGE and gorgeous hunk of meat.

Complex? No. All it requires is your time, your patience, your oven, and a good cut of meat supplied by your local friendly butcher. That’s it!

Mine had some extra complexities. That probably won’t surprise you. These were not the fault of the pig, or the oven, the oils, or any attendant spices. The issue my friends, was my accent.

The most complex thing about it was ordering it. I called my butcher in advance and ordered a shoulder of pork, bone in. He had explained previously that I would need to order it in advance, as they rarely have bone in joints on the premises. I wanted the bone in, as it would help retain the moisture over a slow roasting time and would retain much more flavour.

Bone in, my butcher repeated. I had discussed it with them last time I was in the shop, so satisfied that the joint was ordered, I hung up.  I called the next day to check they had it. In fact they had three. Huh? Three? I thought they never had any? They did, he said. I checked, bone in? And he said, no, you asked for bone out. Sigh. So, we started again. I called the next evening but he couldn’t understand me, so I went on faith, in the hope that this time my pork shoulder would be there. That evening I successfully collected 4 kgs of pork shoulder with the bone in, and lugged it home.

And that was the difficult bit completed. Cooking it was easy. I didn’t need to cut the skin with a knife as my butcher had already done it for me. I first poured some boiling water over the skin to help the crackling plump up, just a brief splash, and then dried it with some kitchen paper. I crushed some sea salt and fennel seeds in my pestle and mortar and rubbed it all over the pork and into the grooves between the cut skin, then placed it in a roasting tray in  a hot oven (220 degrees celsius) for half an hour. I then covered the roasting tray with a double layer of foil, and lowered the temperature to 170 degrees celsius for 5 hours, basting occasionally. I then removed the foil and roasted it for a further half hour, to crisp the skin even more. I rested it for half an hour and then we tucked in.

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

And there you go. Delicious and simple. There’s lots of i’s in that recipe, but that’s how I did it, and it’s a story more than an instructive recipe.

Pork shoulder in khobez flatbreads with salad. I’ll be making it again. Only I’ll make more next tiem so that there’s lots of leftovers!


Roast Pork Belly, cooked simply

Pork Belly

Pork Belly

It’s fair to say that I like pork belly. Just a little. Or, is that alot? Yes, it is. ALOT. It’s such a fine cut of meat, packed full of flavour and with that gorgeous crispy crackling as a bonus. It’s cheap too!

I’ve blogged about it in the past (Slow Roast Pork Belly with Cider & Lentils), and it occured to me recently that I ‘ve never blogged about doing it simply without wine or cider, herbs or spices, just au natural. Now, there’s a petit oversight and one which I’ll rectify now.

There are a couple of important things about cooking pork belly. Start it off at a very high temperature, to wake up that crackling and get it moving. Then turn down the heat and roast it long enough to render out the fat. Then blast that sleepy crackling under the grill so it blisters and crisps, almost aching and arching with the effort.

I got another great new tip recently from one of my many cookbooks. Before roasting, pour some boiling water over the pork belly skin, so that the lines that your butcher has cut through the skin pull apart, encouraging fantastic crackling, and reminding it of the job ahead.

This was enough for two, and I had leftovers. I served it with cavolo nero flash fried with red chilli and garlic. It was a fantastic accompaniment.


1kg pork belly, ask your butcher to cut through the crackling (score it) or do it yourself with a stanley knife, cutting parallel lines through the skin as far as but not through the flesh underneath
Sea salt
Olive Oil


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees celsius.
Put the pork belly in a metal colander and pour boiling water over the top. Drain then pat dry with kitchen paper. Rub some olive oil and sea salt into the flesh (not the skin) and rub sea salt into the skin, and into the grooves cut there.
Place on a rack in a baking tray, to allow the fat to drip out, and roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170 degrees and roast for a further hour and a half (roughly – depends on your cut of meat and the oven – keep an eye on it).
Put on the grill and put the pork belly under it to crisp the crackling. This only takes a few minutes. Take care not to burn it, which can happen very quickly.
Rest for 10-15 minutes, and serve sliced, with the crackling on top. This is delicious served simply with greens like cavolo nero, sprout tops or kale.



Savoury Pork Belly, Savoy Cabbage & Noodle Soup

Savoury Pork Belly, Savoy Cabbage & Noodle Soup

Sometimes, the very best dishes arrive as a surprise, twisted children of the products of our store cupboard and leftovers. It’s always a pleasure when something tasty and comforting arrives as a product of these rushed confections and today’s dinner was this.

Most readers are familiar with my pork belly obsession as are my friends, who are capitalising on this now. Of course I love cooking it for them, but it’s gone to the stage where I am cooking so much, I actually have leftovers! In truth, this is mainly because I am cooking a lot more of it, as I want it for sandwiches. I adored the pork belly sandwiches at Konstam, but I am not working nearby anymore and no longer get my regular fix.

Roast Pork Belly

(I’ve really got to exercise a lot more to compensate for this regular fat influx. What to do about the arteries? I use a lot of olive oil. That’s ok? Right? No? I’ll balance it with healthy veggie dishes, promise.)

So, today, I was faced with a mountain of roast pork belly. I’d roasted it in a light chicken stock with shallots, garlic, bay leaves and thyme and rubbed fresh ground star anise and sea salt into the flesh and crackling. So, what to do? Along with the pork belly, I had some gorgeous stock. I was speaking with a friend about how much it is used in ramen recently, so I thought, why not try a noodle soup?

Full of delicious umami, that savoury sense of ours, rich in meats, mushrooms and cheese amongst others, it was the perfect counter to a Winter’s day. Very quick and very easy to make, it’s a one pot wonder. Next time I make pork belly, or roast pork, this is going to be top of my list for the leftovers.


650ml chicken or pork stock
150g shredded leftover pork belly
3 spring onions shredded
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, finely chopped or grated
1/2 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
4 leaves savoy cabbage, shredded
1 nest chinese noodles (I like shanghai noodles but any will do)
a light oil for frying like groundnut or vegetable oil
S & P


Briefly saute the ginger, garlic and chilli in the oil.

Add the stock, pork belly and noodles and cook until the noodles are almost done.

Add the cabbage and cook for a minute or so, so that it retains it’s bite and lovely bright green colour.

Add soy sauce and S & P to taste.

Serve piping hot garnished with the shredded spring onions.


Roast Yorkshire Pork

Roast Yorkshire Pork
I do love the swine. I love it any/which way it comes. Bacon, pork belly, chorizo, black pudding, loin, pork chops, ribs, sausages. Tender and crispy, moist and wonderful, oozing fat and dripping with flavour.

Ah, the swine.

Sourcing it well is most important. Every piece of meat we eat is the product of a number of factors: husbandry, the abbatoir and the butchery; each stage is equally important. The meat available to us in most shops and supermarkets is compromised on at least one of these fronts, in the name of price and value, speeding up the process to rush it to our shelves, or using intensive farming methods, common in pigs as chickens and equally cruel, but less well publicised.

Now, I don’t want to demonise the commercial pig farmer, but in our world, there’s a tendency to put profit over welfare, of the pig and the end consumer. I know it’s a very difficult time to be a farmer, they in the main are trying to compete and provide what the supermarket demands. I grew up surrounded by farms, and I know how difficult the life can be and how much they care about what they do. I really want to support them and not pointlessly criticise. It’s time for the supermarkets to hold their hands up and make some changes, and bring the product back to what it was before we had any of these issues. It’s better for the pig, better for the farmer, and better for the consumer.

Added to these concerns, rare breeds are dying out in favour of the easily bred commercial pig and the efforts of smaller farmers and farmer’s markets in preserving these and their uniquely flavoured meats is to be applauded and supported.

So, how do we tackle this now? Personally, I prefer to eat meat less often, and when I do, eat a better product. I go to a local reliable butcher, or the farmer’s market. At the very least, when buying in the supermarket, I buy the best I can. Recently, I discovered an online farmer’s market, Paganum, based in North Yorkshire and thought I’d give them a go. It sounded worth trying, their ethic matches mine, and it’s super convenient to boot.  So, I ordered some pork and it was couriered to me the next day. I got bacon, a roasting joint, and (it goes without saying) some pork belly.

The bacon was back bacon and was cut quite thick, as is the Yorkshire way. I like my bacon crispy and I wondered how this would work with a thicker cut. I fried some with some eggs for brunch to see. It was absolutely delicious and the fat was melt in the mouth. I absolutely overate as a result. No surprise there!

Next up was the roasting joint. I cut it into sections as I wanted to freeze some for next weekend. It cut so easily, the meat was incredibly delicate. I seasoned it first with sea salt all over, especially on the skin and roasted it with some garlic, apples, onions, bay leaves, black peppercorns and sauvignon blanc. Roasting on a low heat to begin with and basting occasionally to keep it moist, using the accepted wisdom of cooking slowly at 190 degrees until the meat is cooked (roughly 25 minutes for every pound or so), then transferring the meat to a new tray and cranking up the heat to 230 degrees to crisp the crackling.

It took about two and a half hours in total for the amount that I was roasting. I have had my fill of heavy roast dinners after Christmas, so I wanted to eat it simply. I added some washed and chopped kale to the juices and accountrements in the original baking tray, covered it with aluminium foil and steamed it for about 5 minutes in the oven, until the kale was a vibrant bright green, still crispy and flavoured with the wine and juices from the meat. It was delicious! The meat itself was so moist and tender, and the crackling so crisp. There’s never enough crackling for me, which is probably just as well, I should leave some room in my arteries for some blood to get through occasionally.

It was lovely but not perfect, the recipe that is. While the wine was lovely, I might add some water or a light stock with the wine next time 50/50, as the flavour could dominate. I might add some carrots too, I think the sweetness would be a lovely addition to the juices.

It was the lunch that kept on giving. I had it for dinner on garlic ciabbata toasts, that I roasted in 5 minutes and with some more kale. I’ve got some more left, another meals worth and have saved the apples, onions and juices. I plan to experiment with an apple, sauvignon blanc and thyme sauce. I’ll let you know if it’s a success!

What about the pork belly? I haven’t decided what to do with that yet. I am tempted to raid my Fuschia Dunlop cookbook and do something Sichuanese with it. Or maybe have it cold in a salad a la Simon Hopkinson. I’ll decide soon, and come back and tell you about it here.

Tomorrow, I am quite excited to be going back to St John, they’ve just been awarded a well deserved first Michelin star, so I should have something to say about that soon too.

Hope you’re having a lovely January!