If you take your time to lovingly cook it, preferably until melt-in-the-mouth tender, the aroma fills the house, a bouquet of dark soya sauce and spices. A couple of slices of this simple delicacy over steaming hot rice and you have a dish fit for both a momentous occasion or a simple sit-down dinner with the family.
Now take that traditional Chinese braised pork belly recipe and give it a decidedly French twist and what have you got?
Pork belly confit!
Conjured up by those evil gastronomic minds at La Petit Paradis, their pork belly confit dish is seasoned the traditional Asian way with star anise, cinnamon and cloves, then cooked slowly in duck fat for hours until meltingly tender.
|La Petit Paradis' Pork Belly Confit|
The cooking process also renders much of the fat away from the pork belly, so don't expect the familiar thick fatty layers of the Chinese braised version. But I can tell you that the almost liquified layers of fat that do remain are so smooth and delicate that you could slurp it up with a straw.
To finish off, the pork belly is placed in a high heat oven to allow the skin to crisp up for that all important crowning glory -- the crackling.
La Petit Paradis pork belly confit has everything you could ask of a good traditional braised pork belly -- fall away, tender meat you could pinch and pull apart with chopsticks and almost-melting layers of fat.
But that crackling. Now that's a masterful touch!
What really sets this version of pork belly confit apart from the French version is the combination of Chinese spices. If you grew up munching on Chinese-style braised pork belly, then this version will bring the familiar to whole new territiory.
La Petit Paradis serves their pork belly confit on a balsamic vinegar reduction spiced with cloves and star anise, with a side of mashed potatoes, salad and Béarnaise sauce. Given the richness of this dish, I felt that the Béarnaise was a tad overkill.
But I've learned not to question genius when it presents itself.
If you read my rave review about La Petit Paradis foie gras, their pork belly confit comes in a very close second on the scale of unctuousness.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your cardiac disposition, La Petit Paradis has taken their pork belly confit off the menu for the time being so you might have to wait a few weeks before you can sample this tasty morsel, if you haven't already.
Madness rating: 4.5/5 (0.5 points deducted for the fact that it's not a regular item on the menu!)
Le Petit Paradis
125 East Coast Road
Ali Baba Eating House