Make This Cantonese Nan Jing-Style Crispy Pork Belly with Spicy Soy and Sweet Plum Sauce
Sebastian Tan of Jinja shares an at-home recipe adaptation of his beloved Crispy Pork Belly
Previously Chef de Cuisine at Crown Sydney, where he led hatted Silks and Teahouse, Sebastian Tan has over 15 years of experience in fast-paced kitchens and has worked in many highly notable venues both in Sydney and globally, including the also hatted MoVida Sydney. Tan has also developed speciality Asian and Cantonese menus for dnata, catering in-flight meals for international airlines across China, the US and Canada.
Leaving Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the age of 18, Tan came to Sydney, Australia, in 2007 to study hospitality and cookery at a culinary college and later specialised in Cantonese cuisine. Tan attributes his love for cooking to a childhood spent learning to master traditional Chinese and South-East Asian dishes under the watchful eye of his mother and grandmother.
Crispy pork belly with spicy soy and sweet is a beloved and traditional dish in China with many regional and Asian variations. It’s the perfect dish and full of flavour—think crispy skin and tender, juicy meat.
My recipe features subtle spices and gentle aromas with the addition of cinnamon, star anise, and ginger, cut through with zingy and sweet citrus, resulting in a rich and exotic sauce with a depth of flavour.
I like to think of this dish as comfort in a bowl. Blanching the pork belly first helps to lose some of the fat, resulting in the pork becoming beautifully tender and juicy without the excess fat you sometimes find with other pork belly dishes. It’s also very important to the colour and flavour of this dish to carefully balance to use of light and dark Soy sauce—it adds to the intense depth of flavour! I can’t get enough of this sticky, sweet, savoury melt-in-your-mouth pork belly recipe.
Sebastian Tan’s recipe for Nan Jing-style Crispy Pork Belly with Spicy Soy and Sweet Plum Sauce
2kg Free range Pork Belly (bone out, rind on)
3tbs rock sugar
9tbs Shaoxing Cooking Wine
3tbs Light Soy sauce
2tbs Dark Soy sauce
6 cups (1.5L) water
¼ cup salt (60g), divided
3 pieces fresh Ginger, peeled and cut into ¼-inch (6mm) slices
2 bunches of fresh Spring onion
2tbs Plum sauce
2 Cinnamon sticks
2 Star anise
12g Dried Chili
2tbs Oyster sauce
1tbs Chilli Bean sauce
25g Orange segment
3g Mixed micro herbs
- Start by cutting your pork belly into pieces roughly 3x3cm in size.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the pork belly pieces for a couple minutes. This gets rid of impurities and starts the cooking process. Take the pork out of the pot, rinse, and set aside.
- Over low heat, add the oil and sugar to your wok. Melt the sugar slightly and add the pork. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the pork is lightly browned.
- Turn the heat back down to low and add Shaoxing Cooking Wine, regular Soy sauce, Dark Soy sauce, Ginger, Spring Onion, Cinnamon sticks, Star Anise, dried Chilli, and water. It’s very important to the colour and flavour of this dish that you have both light and dark Soy sauce! Just head to your local Asian market, buy a bottle of each, and it will last you a year!
- Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until pork is fork tender. Every 5-10 minutes, stir to prevent burning and add more water if it gets too dry.
- Once the pork is fork tender, reverse half of braising sauce, uncover the wok, turn up the heat, and stir continuously until the sauce has reduced to a glistening coating.
- Set the pork belly cold, then slightly deep fry with hot oil and put aside.
- Heat the fresh wok with cold oil, add Chilli Bean sauce and stir with low heat until fragrant, add dark Soy sauce, Plum sauce, and reserved braising sauce until fully coated.
- Plate up the pork and garnish with mixed micro herbs and orange segments.