Chef's Recipes

Yama Kitchen & Bar's thousand-layer pork belly

Sink your teeth into a thousand layers of flavour with this pork belly recipe from Yama Kitchen & Bar.

By Hamish Nugent, Rachel Reed & Michael Ryan
  • 40 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs cooking plus cooling
  • Serves 6
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Thousand-layer pork belly


  • 500 gm boneless pork belly, skin on
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp salted black beans (see note)
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 250 gm ya cai (see note)
  • Steamed rice, to serve
Seasoning sauce
  • 60 ml Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp crushed rock sugar (see note)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water


  • 1
    For seasoning sauce, gently heat rice wine, soy sauces, sugar, garlic and ginger in a small saucepan over low-medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar (1-2 minutes). Add cornflour slurry and stir until thickened (1-2 minutes). Set aside.
  • 2
    Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Reduce heat to medium, add pork belly and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove belly and set aside skin-side up to cool briefly (5 minutes), then pat pork dry with paper towels.
  • 3
    Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat, then fry pork skin-side down until skin is golden brown (3-4 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Cool pork, then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until firm enough to slice (1 hour).
  • 4
    Place pork belly skin-side down and slice across the grain as thinly as possible, with a bit of skin on each slice. Layer pork in a shallow 1-litre bowl that fits in a large steamer, overlapping each slice by about half a slice to the bottom of the bowl and up the sides. Sprinkle salted black beans, spring onion and chilli on top. Add the ya cai, spoon seasoning sauce over the top, cover bowl with plastic wrap and steam in a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water, topping up water as necessary, until pork is very tender and easily pierced with a knife (1¾-2 hours). Remove from steamer and keep warm.
  • 5
    Carefully pour the pork juices into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced by a third (2-4 minutes).
  • 6
    Turn pork out onto plates, spoon reduced juices over and serve with rice.


Salted black beans, ya cai, a Chinese preserved vegetable (if it’s unavailable, use coarsely chopped preserved mustard greens), and rock sugar, are available from select Asian supermarkets and Chinese grocers.
Drink Suggestion: 2015 Willem Kurt Vermentino, Beechworth, Victoria or 2015 La Maldicion Tempranillo Malvar, Madrid. Drink suggestion by Rachel Reed