Rhubarb is such a diverse plant that does not always have to be used in sweet dishes. Its bitterness can work in a variety of recipes and can really enhance the flavours of other ingredients. My Five Spice Pork Belly with Rhubarb Compote combines sweet, savoury and spicy flavours to make a truly unique summer recipe. Paired with a cold glass of TIME Winery’s White Meritage, and you have the perfect elegant meal for summer!
The Best Way to Cook Pork Belly
After many recipe trials, I have found that the best way to cook pork belly is a combination of steaming and broiling.
The first step is to steam the pork in the oven. Before cooking, I use a sharp knife to score the top layer of fat and skin, making sure to not cut all the way through. After that, I simply add the pork belly to a baking dish and add enough water to the dish to come 3/4 of the way up the side of the pork. You want to make sure that the water does not come into contact with the fat and skin layer on top, or else this makes the pork excessively soggy and less likely to crisp.
Adding some spices to the water works to impart delicious flavour to the otherwise bland pork belly. I love pork and Chinese five spice, so I added in whole cloves, fennel seeds, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns and star anise. A few bay leaves also help to round out the flavours throughout the dish.
Covering and steaming the pork for three hours at a low heat of 300 degrees F really helps to make the pork belly tender and also renders out a significant amount of fat. Once the pork belly is steamed and tender, I drain off the water and spices and set it under the broiler. The high heat from the broiler really helps to crisp up the skin and fat on the top of the pork belly, which adds great texture to this dish.
A Sweet and Spicy Rhubarb Compote
To bring some light and refreshing flavours to this recipe, I made a refreshing rhubarb compote. The bitterness of the rhubarb really cuts through the fattiness of the pork and a touch of sweetness really helps to make this dish sing!
I combined fresh rhubarb (from my garden), brown sugar, a cinnamon stick and a whole star anise in a pot along with water and a splash of the White Mertiage. I’m a huge fan of cooking with the wine that you will be pairing with the recipe as it creates a really cohesive dish.
After simmering for a few minutes, I also add in some large chunks of rhubarb. These pieces will stay nice and soft and add a great texture and look to the final presentation of this recipe.
The Perfect Wine Pairing
The perfect wine pairing for this Five Spice Pork Belly with Rhubarb Compote is a bottle of TIME Winery’s White Meritage. This wine has fruity notes of honeydew, pear, and tangerine but is not too sweet. These flavours really compliment the sweet rhubarb compote and are enhanced by the Chinese five spice. It is also great at cutting through the fattiness of the pork and provides your palate with a nice refresh between bites of pork belly.
You can order TIME Winery’s White Meritage online on their website for $29.99.
Get the Recipe!
Five Spice Pork Belly with Rhubarb Compote
For the Five Spice Pork Belly:
- 1 piece pork belly 2.5 to 3 pounds
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt divided
- 6 cloves whole
- 2 star anise whole
- 2 bay leaves whole
- 1 cinnamon stick whole
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds whole
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns whole
For the Rhubarb Compote:
- 4 stalks fresh rhubarb 4 cups; 2 stalks cut into 1-cm slices, and 2 stalks cut into 6-cm slices
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup brown sugar packed
- 1/8 cup TIME White Meritage
- 1 star anise whole
- 1 cinnamon stick whole
To Steam the Pork Belly:
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
- Remove the pork belly from the packaging and place it on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to score the top of the pork belly skin vertically. Space the scores 1 centimeter apart making sure to not cut all the way through the layer of fat underneath the skin.
- Flip the pork belly over and trim the meat (if needed) to ensure the pork belly sits completely flat and is an even thickness. This will help the pork belly cook and crisp evenly.
- Transfer the trimmed and scored pork belly to a 9x12 inch baking dish. Pat the top skin of the pork belly dry with a paper towel. Once dry, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and use your hands to rub the salt into the scores in the skin.
- Add enough water to come up ¾ of the way around the pork belly, making sure to not let the water touch the top layer of fat and skin.
- Add the cloves, star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, and Sichuan peppercorns to the water in the baking dish, making sure to spread them around the pork as much as possible.
- Cover the pork belly tightly with a layer of parchment paper and then a layer of aluminum foil to allow the pork belly to steam in the oven. Carefully transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 3 hours in the center of the oven, covered.
For the Rhubarb Compote:
- While the pork belly is cooking, make the rhubarb compote. Add the 2 stalks of 1-cm thick rhubarb slices to the pot, along with the water, wine, brown sugar, star anise and cinnamon stick.
- Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, or until the rhubarb has softened and is falling apart.
- Add the 2 stalks of 6-cm long slices and simmer for 5 minutes, until the rhubarb has slightly softened. You want to ensure these larger pieces stay whole and don’t fall apart.
- After 5 minutes, remove the rhubarb compote from the heat and let cool.
To Broil the Pork Belly:
- After 3 hours, remove the pork belly from the oven. Discard the water and spices, keeping the pork belly in the baking dish.
- Set your oven to broil and move an oven rack near the top of the oven to bring the pork belly close to the broiler.
- Use a paper towel to pat the pork belly skin dry and sprinkle with another ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Place the pork belly in the oven under the broiler. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the top skin of the pork belly is crisp, puffed, and golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing into 2-cm thick slices. Serve with the rhubarb compote and a glass of TIME White Meritage and enjoy!
• You can steam the pork belly the day before and keep it in the refrigerator overnight before broiling.