Poking around in my fruit bowl yesterday, I found a few peaches which needed using with a degree of urgency, so in trying to decide on my contribution for this week's Cookbook Sundays I turned to Nigel Slater's Tender, Volume II, A Cook's Guide to the Fruit Garden for inspiration.
This is a wonderful book, divided in to chapters according to fruit varieties. Each chapter offers: firstly, some general information about the seasonality, origins and history of the particular variety; secondly, some information about growing the particular fruit and available varieties; then, using the said fruit in the kitchen - how to ripen it, cook with it, and other great flavour companions; and lastly, a selection of recipes. Recipes are generally relatively simple and uncomplicated (my kind of food), photographs are gorgeous, and everything is written in Nigel Slater's inimitable style, which makes you feel as though he is right there in the kitchen having a chat with you.
Leafing through the chapter on peaches and nectarines, I found myself wishing that I had several kilos of peaches kicking around the house, as there wasn't a single recipe that I didn't want to try. However, as I had just three peaches on hand, I had to narrow the search somewhat and, given my weakness for porcine flesh, I just knew that I was going to love this Crisp Pork Belly with Sweet Peach Salsa.
Pork belly is marinated in a paste of garlic, soy, chilli and Chinese five-spice, then roasted in a hot oven until the skin is crispy. Nigel suggests marinating the pork for at least four hours, and maybe even overnight. As it turned out, I only had two hours, but the flavour was still exceptional. For the salsa, peaches (I used a combination of yellow and white peaches) and cherry tomatoes combine with chillies, limes and coriander, to make the perfect accompaniment to the pork.
Crisp Pork Belly with Sweet Peach Salsa Recipe
Adapted from Nigel Slater's
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1 to 1.5kg (2 to 3 lb) pork belly, skin finely scored
3x cloves garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 teaspoons salt
generous pinch dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
2x spring onions
1x small red chilli
3x peaches (white, yellow or a mixture of both)
(nectarines would be a good substitute if peaches were not available)
8x cherry tomatoes
small bunch of coriander (cilantro)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Put the piece of pork belly into a shallow glass or china dish.
Peel the garlic, put into a mortar and pestle, sprinkle over the salt, and crush to a paste. Add the soy sauce, oil, chilli flakes and Chinese five-spice, and combine everything well. Spread this paste liberally over the skin and underside of the pork belly, rubbing it in well. Cover with cling film and set in the fridge to marinate for at least two hours - longer if possible Overnight is good if you have the time.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Place the pork in a roasting tin, skin side up, and cook in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F), and cook for a further 40-50 minutes, until the skin is dark and crispy. Remove from oven, and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
Meanwhile, make the salsa. Finely chop the chilli (feel free to de-seed first if you don't want the heat). Finely chop the spring onions. Peel the peaches, slice the cheeks off the stones, and finely chop the flesh. Finely chop the cherry tomatoes and coriander. Gently mix everything together in a bowl. Squeeze over the juice of the limes and add the olive oil. Toss everything again to combine.
Serve with the pork belly. Steamed rice and bok choy make great additional accompaniments.
I'm sharing this recipe with Cookbook Sundays - do stop by and see what else is cooking. Maybe you'd even like to dust off some of your own cookbooks and join in.