Prawn and pork belly-It’s not an odd combination if you think about it. The two according to me would marry well in a paella too, and in this recipe-a simple appetiser really, you get some real punchy flavours coming through because of the caramel that the marinade reduces to.
It should come as no surprise that this marinade has fish sauce, which as you may or may not already know, I absolutely love. Equal parts fish sauce, soy sauce and Demerara sugar create a treacley-thick caramel, which because of its hot temperature, cooks the pork belly rather nicely. The prawns are added right at the end and tossed to finish. I prefer to use prawns with the heads on because obviously, that’s where all the flavour is. Any liquid released from the prawns helps wash up any bits of flavour at the bottom perfuming the dish with sweet flavours of the sea. Use the freshest prawns you can find and get in there with your hands to eat. This one’s quick to make, but yields tons of flavour.
Prawns and Pork Belly
Yield 4 servings
Cooking this in a cast iron pan ensures a good even caramelisation throughout, but regulate the heat so nothing burns. Remember that both soy sauce and fish sauce are salty enough and you might not need to add any extra salt to the dish. If necessary, adjust with one of the two.
Pork Belly 300g (I used Yorkshire from Joseph’s Cold Storage in Bandra), chopped into small dices
Prawns 300g heads on, the freshest you can find
Demerara sugar 2 tbsp
Fish sauce 2 tbsp
Soy sauce 2 tbsp (try to use Kikkoman)
Black pepper 1 1/2 tbsp, freshly ground
Vegetable Oil 1/4 cup, divided
Onions 3 medium-sized, finely chopped
Garlic 6-7 cloves
Lemongrass 2 stalks, bashed in and finely chopped
Thai bird’s eye chillies 2, finely chopped
Spring onions 1 cup, green parts only to finish
Start on the marinade first by mixing together the sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, black pepper, half of the vegetable oil and onions. Mix a quarter of the marinade into the prawns and the rest into the pork belly and let this marinate for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.
When it’s time to cook, heat a cast iron skillet or a kadai with the reserve oil and add the garlic, the chopped lemongrass and the bird’s eye chillies. Saute this until the garlic and lemongrass begin to change colour. Add in the pork belly and turn the heat up, cooking the pork belly by moving it around every once in a while, splashing in the pork belly marinade bit by bit so the contents of the pan don’t dry out and burn. Keep doing this until the pork belly is almost done.
Add in the prawns towards the end of the cooking process, frying this together with the pork belly for 2-3 minutes, or until the prawn has cooked and everything has a good shiny brown colour on it. Shower with the chopped spring onions and serve with sticky rice.