Mead is an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey and water – and it’s delicious. I bought a bottle on a trip to Lindisfarne Holy Island in Northumberland and I was determined to do something more with it than just open my throat and neck the lot.
The taste is reminiscent of sherry so I figured it would work well as a substitute, for example in Spanish and Chinese dishes.
This is the first recipe I’ve developed using mead: a soft, succulent Chinese pork belly that I’ve cooked using three different methods. That sounds quite labour intensive, and to be honest, it is: but the results are spectacular. My wife declared it one of the best Chinese dishes she’s ever tasted.
In a nutshell, these are the processes: first marinate the pork belly; next, slow cook; then pan-fry to crisp; and finally, reduce the sauce.
Here’s the recipe:
500g pork belly, skin removed, and chopped into 2cm square chunks
100ml dark soy sauce
100ml Mead (or sherry, or Chinese shaosing rice wine)
1 tbsp caster sugar
2-3 dried red chillies
1-2 whole star anise
2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Golf ball-sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1. In a bowl, mix the pork cubes with all the other ingredients except the ginger, garlic and water and leave to marinate in the fridge for approx. 2 hours.
2. Transfer to a slow cooker or casserole dish and add the water. If using a slow cooker, cook on LOW for 4 hours until the pork meat is very soft and the fat is wobbly. If using a casserole dish, cook in the oven at 160C/Gas 3 for 2-3 hours.
3. When done, use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the pork from the stock. Drain on kitchen paper. Allow the stock to cool, then pour into a jar and put in the fridge. This will make it easier to skim off the fat which will have risen to the surface when it cools down.
4. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and gently cook the pork belly squares, fat side down, until they are blackened and crisp, approx. 5 mins.
5, Meanwhile, skim the fat off the stock and transfer the stock to a saucepan or frying pan. Add the garlic and ginger and bring the sauce to the boil and reduce slightly until it is rich and sticky. Add the pork belly cubes and stir through.
6. Serve with egg-fried rice.