Tender, succulent braised pork sitting on fresh Asian-style greens

This wonderful Chinese 5 spice pork belly is perfect with stir fry and as a sharing, dinner party dish.

  • SERVES: 8
  • PREP TIME: 5 mins + 24 hrs marinating
  • COOK TIME: 2 slow-cooking, pretty hands off
  • DIFFICULTY: easy
  • IDEAL FOR: family, sharing dinner party, crowd-pleaser

Pork belly

It can be sold with bones in or boneless.

As well as with the skin on, or skinless.

And let’s not kid ourselves, the belly is probably the fattiest cut from the whole pig.

But that’s what gives it such sweet and succulent flavours.

And you’re allowed to treat yourself every now and again.

The beauty of the pork belly is it’s still one of the cheapest cuts, although it has gained a lot more popularity.

And it can be cooked in several different ways from roasting all the way through to smoking.

Ways to cook pork belly

With pork belly, you can have flavours of a traditional Sunday roast to the flavours of Asia.

But whichever technique or flavour you decided to try, the key to great pork belly is time and patience.

And with that, more often than not, slow and low gives more time for the fat to render and melt.

Giving you more intense, unctuous flavours.

Here are three cooking methods to enjoy pork belly.

  1. Braising: This method is slowly cooking meat or vegetables, covered, in an aromatic braising liquid.
    • A popular braised pork belly dish is chashu pork – a meltingly tender pork belly that’s been slow-braised in an intense blend of soy sauce, sweet mirin, ginger, garlic and green onions
  2. Roasting: Slow roasting allows the fat to render out of the skin slowly and adds moisture to the pork while at the same time browning the skin.
    • Roasted pork belly gives you a tender, fall-apart texture of pulled pork AND a layer of crispy pork crackling.
  3. Searing: Searing pork belly on a skillet over high heat on the stovetop or a grill is good for cooking thick slices of pork belly rather than large slabs.
    • It’s not as tender as slow-roasted or braised pork belly, but crispy pan-fried pork belly is still very tasty.
Chinese 5 spice pork belly

Tips for cooking pork belly

  1. Choose fresh pork belly
    • It should be a pale white colour throughout.
    • The skin of the pork belly should be smooth to the touch.
  2. Dry the pork out overnight.
    • If roasting or searing your pork belly, leave the meat uncovered in the refrigerator overnight for crackly, crispy skin.
    • A drier pork belly skin gives you a head start.
  3. Partially wrap the pork belly
    • To prevent the meat from drying out during the long cooking time, cover it with foil. This will keep the meat more juicy and then at the end remove it for crispy skin.

Chinese 5 spice pork belly

If you don’t have Chinese five spice, you can make it yourself.

What are the spices in Chinese five spice?

Apparently, Chinese five spice is based on the five elements – fire, water, wood, earth and metal.

It encompasses all five tastes—sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami.

It can vary greatly from region to region but the most common ingredients are:

  • Star anise
  • Fennel seeds
  • Szechuan peppercorns (or regular peppercorns)
  • Whole cloves
  • Cinnamon stick

And to make your own, simply place all the spices in a spice or coffee grinder and grind until smooth.

For more ideas on pork dishes, visit here



Recipes from The Ginger Pig Cookbook, page 78

Chinese 5 spice pork belly

Course Main Course
Keyword Asian, chinese five spice, one pan meal, pork, pork belly, slow cooking, stir-fry
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Marinating 1 day
Total Time 1 day 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 8 people
Cost £


  • 1.5 kg pork belly, skin on – cut into 8 equal squares
  • 3 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 6 cm fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 star anise
  • 100 ml soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed, peeled, diced
  • cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 150 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander and chives, chopped


Marinade 24 hours ahead

  • Place the 8 pieces of pork into a tray with sides and then add the five spice, star anise, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, cinnamon, and stock. Mix the pork so well coated and place in the fridge covered for 24 hrs – turn as frequently as reasonable.
  • In a pan that will hold the pork in a single layer, heat 100ml of water, then add the pork skin side down. Bring to a boil and then cover and cook on the lowest possible heat for 50 mins.
  • After 5o mins, turn the pork and add enough water to come halfway up the meat. Cover and cook very gently for another 50 mins. Add more water if necessary.
  • Serving: make a stir fry with rice, place on a large serving dish and place the pork on top, then sprinkle with chives and coriander.


Recipe from The Ginger Pig Cookbook page 78