While ham might be the traditional form of pork served at Christmas, this Asian-flavoured loin adds a new spin. With crunchy crackling and a super-tangy, quick cucumber pickle, it ticks all the boxes in terms of flavour and texture. Better still, you can cook it a couple of hours ahead if you like - it's as good at room temperature as it is straight from the oven. Start a day ahead to dry out the pork skin.
- 2.2 kg piece of pork loin, skin on
- 100 gm ginger
- 4 garlic cloves
- 100 ml each dark soy sauce, fish sauce and lime juice
- 100 gm raw caster sugar
- 2 birdseye chillies, finely chopped (or to taste)
- 6 spring onions, trimmed to the length of the pork
- For rubbing: grapeseed oil
- 250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock
- 50 ml each lime juice, fish sauce and rice vinegar
- 1½ tbsp raw caster sugar
- 2 Lebanese cucumbers, halved, seeds scooped out, thickly sliced
- 2 golden shallots, thinly sliced
- ½ garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1Carefully score pork at 1cm intervals, cutting partway into the fat, but not into the flesh. Place loin skin-side up on a wire rack in a roasting pan and pour on boiling water until the incisions open up, tipping the water out of the pan so it doesn’t touch the flesh.
- 2Coarsely chop half the ginger and bruise half the garlic, then, in a roasting pan large enough to hold pork snugly, combine with soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Place pork, skin-side up in marinade, then refrigerate uncovered (this helps dry out the skin) to marinate (overnight).
- 3Preheat oven to 220C. Remove pork from marinade and pat lightly with paper towels to dry, then place skin-side down on a work surface. Finely grate remaining ginger and garlic, and combine in a bowl with chillies. Rub all over pork flesh, then arrange spring onions lengthways along the centre of the pork and roll to form a cylinder. Tie at intervals with kitchen string to secure, place skin-side up on a wire rack in a roasting pan, rub skin with oil and salt, then add stock to pan and roast until crackling starts to form (30-40 minutes). Reduce oven to 200C and roast, basting occasionally with pan juices, until a meat thermometer reads 63C for medium rare or 71C for medium (45 minutes to 1 hour; or insert the tip of a sharp knife into the centre of the loin through an incision in the crackling for 30 seconds, then touch it against your lip – the knife should feel hot). Remove from pan and rest for 20 minutes, then pour pan juices into a jug and scoop off excess fat.
- 4For pickled cucumber, stir lime juice, fish sauce, vinegar and sugar in a bowl to dissolve sugar and season to taste with sea salt. Add cucumber, shallots and garlic, stir to coat well and set aside to pickle (30 minutes). Refrigerate until required. Pickle can be made several hours ahead.
- 5Carve pork into thick slices and drizzle with pan juices.
Drink Suggestion: Perfumed gewürztraminer. Drink suggestion by Max Allen