Roast Chinese 5 Spice Pork Belly with Green Peppers

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Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: December 13, 2012

One of the first times I had Pork Belly was at a Chinese restaurant following a funeral (I know, not exactly where you would expect to have memorable food experiences) but I was about 10 or 12 years old and I couldn’t get enough of this pork belly.  Crispy skin, melt in the mouth fat, moist and tender pork meat, no little salt and the taste of those spices; It took several more years to discover that those spices were in fact the chinese five spices – star anise, clove, cinnamon, fennel and Szechuan peppercorn.

When I first started to cook for myself it was one of the first things I tried to recreate just from tasting it in a restaurant.  I could get the flavour right but I could never quite get the crispy skin and perfectly cooked pork, either the skin was crisp and the meat was dry or the meat was great but the skin wasn’t quite crispy enough!  But after trying various different methods, the easiest seems to be the best and most consistent in terms of results.  In the oven for an initial blast of very high heat and then roasted for nearly two hours at a slightly lower heat.  The fat turns crispy, without turning completely solid like crackling, it melts into the meat and in turn you don’t overcook the meat.  The key thing I have found to do, is to keep the marinated meat in the fridge for as long as possible, as the salt and cold air of the fridge will dry out the fat.  Wet fat, doesn’t go crispy when fried!

In many ways this is close to my favourite dish, Chinese Roast Pork Belly (Sau Nyuk) but the proper preparation for that is time-consuming and difficult to do outside of a restaurant, Phoebe has a near perfect way to make it at home and I’m sure she will do the recipe one day.  This dish on the other hand is much simpler to make and the aromatic flavours of the five spices and the salted pork belly really make the mouth water.  Given the time of year and passion for roasts, this could be an interesting Chinese alternative to turkey, if you are tired of having the traditional Christmas meat.  I have so many pre-Christmas meals with work or friends that I get pretty bored of turkey long before Christmas day!

To accompany the roast pork I have suggested green peppers in oyster sauce as it will cut through the fatty pork meat.  Onions, green peppers and red chilli add a bit of heat to the whole dish as well as cutting through the fat.  You could possibly go with green peppers and black bean sauce but I think that would overpower some of the flavours in the meat.  Likewise, other chinese veg with fish sauce or just soya sauce would be too salty or would clash with the meat.


Ingredients (Serves 2):

500g Boneless Pork Belly / 700g Pork Belly Joint

2 tbsp Chinese 5-Spice

1 tbsp Sea Salt


2 Green Peppers

2 Red Chillies

1 Large Onion

1 Clove Garlic

2 tbsp Oyster Sauce

1 tbsp Hot Water

2 tsp Light Soya Sauce



1.  Score the pork belly’s fat by crisscrossing with a sharp knife, don’t cut into the meat.

2.  Mix the sea salt and chinese 5-spices together, then rub into the fat.  Any leftovers can be used on the other side of the belly.  Then place in the fridge for at least 30mins or ideally overnight.

3.  Pre-heat your oven to 250C (or as high as it will go).

4.  Now place the meat in the oven for 30mins, then turn it down to 180C and leave it to roast for an hour and a half.

5.  Check the meat, if the fat isn’t crispy after the first hour and a half, then whack up the oven back up to max for the last 30mins.  Alternatively, if the meat is looking a little too dark you can cover it with tinfoil for the last 30mins.

6.  Cut the green peppers and onions into large chunks, then slice the chillies and garlic.

7.  Heat some groundnut oil in a frying or saute pan, once it is nice and hot add in the onions and chillies and fry until they begin to soften.

8.  Next add the garlic and peppers.  Fry for about 5mins.

9.  Now add in the oyster sauce and soya sauce and mix well.  If the sauce looks too thick then add in the hot water.  Fry for another 2mins then serve with the meat and some steamed rice.



– You want chunks of veg, not thin slices as you want a mouthful of crunchy veg.  Otherwise it will be too much like a sauce.

– I recommend some plain boiled or steamed rice as a serving suggestion.


Drinks Matching:

Cocktail: Gimlet or White Lady – A Gin based cocktail will work well with the spices and help clear the palate from the fattiness of the pork belly.  The citrus in the Gimlet or White Lady will further add to the effect but prevent the taste of straight gin overpowering the dish. Use a more botanical gin, Bombay Sapphire or perhaps Hendricks?

Regular Drink: Red Wine – A well rounded red like a Pinot Noir from Chile will work with the spice and salt/sweet of the pork.

Non-Alcoholic: Jasmine Tea – Tea works with almost any asian dish. Here I recommend Jasmine tea as the floral notes will combine well with the spices.

2 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. Deb says:

    There’s nothing better than crispy pork belly and nothing worse than soggy pork belly. Tried this at the weekend and it was fabulous, thanks for the tips.


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