Slow cooked sticky Chinese pork belly slices

Forget your favourite Chinese takeaway this week and give this a try. The sweet pork belly meat is balanced with a savoury and punchy marinade which is a surefire winner!

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Ingredients- serves 4
8 pork belly slices
1 tsp five spice
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns- ground (optional)
2 tbsp dark soy
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 garlic clove- finely grated

1. This pork benefits from being marinated in advance, even the night before if you can so the meat can take on the different flavours. To make the marinade, simply mix the spice and wet ingredients before massaging into the belly slices. Cover and keep in the fridge before you need it.

2. When you’re ready to cook the belly, preheat the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Place the belly slices onto a baking tray and cover with foil. Cook in the oven for 1 hour. As the pork cooks, check it occasionally and use the sticky juices to baste as needed. After the first hour, turn the oven up to 200c/ 180 fan, remove the foil and cook for a further half an hour.

Serve with long grain rice and a vegetable side dish. I served with a mixed vegetable stir fry of shredded pak choi, tenderstem broccoli, sugar snap peas and spring onion which was finished simply with soy sauce and sesame oil.

Unctuous pork belly- move over takeaways!

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Indonesian style stir fried rice

Perk up your tastebuds with this flavoursome rice recipe. It uses a crunchy combination of vegetables as well as succulent prawns and pork which go well with Indonesian spice. Ketjap manis features in this recipe to give a further tang- this can now be found in supermarkets and is a thicker, spiced version of soya sauce.

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Ingredients- serves 4
250g long grain rice- precooked as per pack instructions
1 red chilli- finely chopped
1 banana shallot- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
3cm piece of fresh ginger- finely chopped
50g sugar snap peas- sliced thinly longways
1 large carrot- grated
200g raw king prawns- deveined
200g pork loin or similar- cut into bite size pieces
3 tbsp ketjap manis
Handful of fresh coriander- chopped

1. Get a large wok and place a glug of vegetable or groundnut oil and heat. When the oil is hot, add in the chilli, shallot, garlic and ginger and cook for a minute. Next in goes the sugar snap pea slices and carrot for a further minute.

2. Pop in the pork and prawns for a two minutes before stirring the precooked rice in well to combine everything. Leave on the heat as you add the ketjap manis and keep it cooking. Taste as you go and adjust the amount of ketjap manis if needed. I also made a wafer thin omelette which I then thinly sliced and stirred through the rice. When the prawns and pork are cooked through finish with a final flourish of fresh coriander and serve.

A tasty stir fried rice- perfect to brighten up a dull January day!

Miso marinated salmon with udon noodles

Now’s your chance to broaden your culinary horizons and try tantalisingly savoury Japanese dishes. If you think Japanese is just sushi then read on and try something new.

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Ingredients- serves 4
For the miso marinated salmon:
6 tbsp white miso paste
2 tbsp sake or rice wine 
4 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
4 boneless salmon fillets

For the udon noodles
2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
1 garlic clove- crushed
3cm piece fresh ginger- grated
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine
4 tbsp dark soy
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
400g udon noodles
400g ribboned or sliced mixed vegetables of your choice

1. You need to start this recipe ahead of time so plan when you want to cook it and work back from there. Combine all the miso marinade ingredients and stir well to dissolve the sugar and then put half in a large dish. Take a piece of muslin or j cloth which is double the size of the dish and lay one half of the length in the dish with the marinade. Next, pop in the fillets skin side down and cover with the cloth. Add in the remaining half of the marinade and cook in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight if you can. The cloth allows the flavours to permeate but will minimise the risk of the salmon catching when cooked as without it the sugar will burn when cooked.

2. When ready, preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Remove the salmon from the marinade and shake off any excess marinade before placing on a baking tray. The salmon can also be grilled if you prefer. Cook for 15 minutes until just cooked through and get on with the noodles in the meantime.

3. Boil the noodles until they are two minutes from ready. In a small bowl add all the stir fry dressing ingredients. Heat a splash of groundnut or vegetable oil in hot wok and fry the garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add the vegetable for a couple of minutes before the dressing goes in and cook for a further minute. Next up goes the noodles and toss the wok so all ingredients combine. Cook until heated through and the noodles are tender.

Serve in large bowls with the salmon perched atop a bed of delicious noodles. 

Miso marinated salmon- a perfect taste of Japan!