250 gmsoft, light palm sugar125 ml (½ cup)fish sauce1.4 kgboneless pork belly, skin scoredFor deep-frying:vegetable oil200 gmcooked spanner crab meat (see note)2pomelo, segmented and coarsely broken1bunch each of coriander and mint, leaves picked and washed2long green chillies, seeds removed, thinly sliced2 tbspfried shallotsTamarind dressing3small green chillies1clove of garlic, bruised125 ml (½ cup)fish sauce2 tbsplime juice (or to taste)1 tbsppalm sugar (or to taste)2 tbsptamarind purée (or to taste)1 tbspfinely shredded lemongrass
Dissolve palm sugar in fish sauce in a non-reactive container, add pork and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally to lightly cure. Remove pork from marinade, place in a bamboo steamer over a large wok half-filled with simmering water. Steam over low-medium heat until pork is very tender (2 hours). Cool, then weight with food cans and refrigerate until pressed firm and chilled (3-4 hours). Thinly slice crossways and refrigerate until required.
For tamarind dressing, combine chillies, garlic and a pinch of salt in a mortar, pound to a fine paste with a pestle and add remaining ingredients. Stir to dissolve and season.
Preheat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or large wok to 180C. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl, deep-fry pork in batches until golden (4-5 minutes). Drain on absorbent paper, add to herb mixture, toss gently to coat with dressing and serve immediately.
Note Cooked spanner crab meat is available from select fishmongers, if unavailable substitute with other picked crab meat.