Pork belly will never go out of fashion - and when it's braised
slowly the skin becomes gelatinous and the meat juicy and rich. A
sweet sauce with a hit of chilli makes the perfect partner.
1.5 kgpiece of pork belly, skin on250 ml(1 cup) kecap manis60 ml(¼ cup) each rice wine vinegar and fish sauce3dried long red chillies1star anise½ tspwhite peppercorns, coarsely crushedSambal50 gmfinely grated fresh coconut30 gmshrimp paste7long red chillies, coarsely chopped3small golden shallots, coarsely chopped7 gmginger, coarsely chopped1garlic clove, coarsely chopped1 tsproasted chilli flakes100 mlpeanut oil20 gmdark palm sugar, coarsely choppedFried shallots and eggplant300 mlvegetable oil6red shallots, shaved on a mandolin2baby eggplant, thinly sliced diagonally
Preheat oven to 150C. Place pork in a casserole or roasting pan skin-side up. Combine kecap manis, vinegar, fish sauce, chilli, star anise and peppercorns in a saucepan with 40ml water, bring to the simmer over medium-high heat, then pour mixture over pork belly, cover with a lid or foil and braise in oven until meat pulls apart easily (3½ hours). Remove lid and cook, basting regularly, until glazed (30 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, for sambal, process ingredients except peanut oil and sugar in a small food processor until smooth, then transfer to a small saucepan, add oil and stir occasionally until toasted and fragrant (5-7 minutes). Add sugar and stir until melted and caramelised (3-5 minutes), then set aside.
For fried shallots and eggplant, heat oil in a saucepan or wok over medium heat and cook shallots and eggplant separately in batches, turning constantly, until golden and crisp, (1-2 minutes). Drain on paper towels, then combine in a bowl.
Remove pork from braising liquid and set aside. Skim fat from the top of the liquid, transfer liquid to a small saucepan and bring to the simmer over medium-high heat (continue cooking to reduce further if you prefer a thicker sauce).
Cut pork into 6 pieces and serve drizzled with a little braising liquid, and scatter with fried shallots and eggplant, and sambal to taste.