I don’t know of many people who’ve been to Singapore and don’t like it. The ones who scoff at its well-reported intolerance for everything that interferes with its harmonie communitaire – like chewing gum, litter or Western pluralist democracy – have never been there. Despite what my Guardian-reading brain dictates, my heart commands me otherwise: I love this place.
John Malathronas, Singapore Swing
Six weeks out, and we’re really starting to miss Singapore. The cool order of our little apartment, the convenience of our gorgeous swimming pool, the pure unbridled deliciousness of the food.
And so this weekend we decided to bring a little bit of sunny Singapore to dreich old Scotland, in the form of a rather nice bit of pork belly. My inlaws were staying. They happen to be hopeless with chopsticks and have a pathological fear of fat – even the slightest hint of rind turns them into picky toddlers – so this was going to be a test for them. But the rest of us fully intended to enjoy every mouthful.
Ever on the lookout for recipes to use up my triffid-like rhubarb patch, I decided to brave this peculiar Jamie Oliver recipe: hot and sour rhubarb and crispy pork with noodles. A friend had found it on the internet and almost dared me to give it a go. Out came the chopsticks, the noodle bowls, the Chinese spoons and the cleaver: pork belly is something that I want to do properly.
I wanted to write just a short blog post about this recipe because, if your rhubarb patch is getting out of control like mine, you must give this a go as an alternative to the ubiquitous rhubarb crumble. Not only does it contain the most obscure ingredient ever in the form of “interesting cresses” (sorry Jamie, I could only find cress cresses, but I’ll keep searching) but the rhubarb marinade cooks down into a spicy, tart, savoury, utterly fabulous sauce, almost like a mild rhubarb sambal - you could cook and jar this for so many different things (I have rhubarb ketchup with lovely sausages in mind).
The twice-cooked pork belly is obviously fabulous (except if you’re my MIL who refused to eat any – ho hum). An hour and a half roasting in the marinade followed by a quick, smoky wok fry rendered it both crispy and melting soft (as I set off the smoke alarm my husband rubbed his hands together shouting “wok hei!” in delight). And who knew that rhubarb and fresh coriander is a match made in culinary heaven? J-to-the-O-Dawg, we salute you. Especially after your lovely interview in the Observer Food Monthly at the weekend.
Totally bonkers recipe, totally seasonal major ingredient from the end of the garden, totally fabulous dinner.
Rounded off with cones of mango frozen yoghurt from JO’s 30 minute meals book (if you have the book and haven’t made this yet, you’re not going to believe how good it is), we all felt a little essence of sunny Singapore in our patch of grey British sky.