Note: You can make your own five-spice powder by combining 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seed, plus 1 cinnamon stick and 1 clove star anise. If using whole pork belly, trim any bones from the slab of meat. Slice into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise, then slice each piece into 1/4-inch slivers.
About the Author: Cathy Erway is the author of The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove. She blogs at Not Eating Out In New York and hosts the weekly podcast, "Eat Your Words" on Heritage Radio Network.
- Yield:Serves 6 to 8
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:4 hours
- 2 cups vegetable or canola oil
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 6 medium)
- 2 pounds ground pork (or 2 pounds whole, fresh, skin-on pork belly, see note)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon five-spice powder (see note)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce
- 1 cup Chinese rice cooking wine
Line a large plate with a triple layer of paper towels. Heat oil to 325°F in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and adjust flame to maintain temperature. Add shallots and cook, stirring constantly with a slotted spoon or wire mesh spider, until shallots are a pale golden and barely turning brown in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately transfer to paper towel lined-plate to drain. Reserve 1 tablespoon oil and reserve the rest for another use. When shallots are cool, lightly crush. Set aside.
Heat reserved oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and the crushed fried shallots to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add the five-spice powder and sugar and stir to combine. Add both soy sauces, wine, and just enough water to cover, if necessary, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cover partially. Cook until pork is completely tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 4 hours. Serve with steamed rice.