Vietnamese Pork Belly Salad

Okay, admittedly I’ve made this one up. I haven’t followed a recipe – I’ve simply combined the essentials of Vietnamese cooking; sweet, sour, salty, and spicy.

Pork belly was on special at my local butcher’s, and it had been a while since I’d had it, so I jumped at the chance to take these succulent looking fingers of pork home with me.

Vietnamese cooking is always so fresh and light, so I felt that a salad packed full of mint, coriander, and bean sprouts would be an ideal backdrop to the fatty richness of the pork. It did not disappoint.

I’ve used kale for this salad, purely because that’s what I had floating about in my fridge. It would be equally good with any other leafy green, or combination of greens.

Kale is a delightful member of the brassica family, which also includes the likes of broccoli and cabbage. It is an excellent source of Vitamin A (providing 194% of the RDA in one cup), Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, manganese, calcium, potassium, Vitamin E, and dietary fibre. Whew!

Let’s get cracking.

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Ingredients:

Marinade:

3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 inch lemongrass, minced
2 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp 5 spice powder
1-2 tsp raw honey or palm sugar, depending on preference
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp coconut aminos, or gluten free soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil

500 grams fresh pork belly, cut into strips. (Mine was already in slices)

Salad:

Salad greens, such as kale, spinach, or rocket
Freshly steamed green beans
Bean sprouts
Fresh mint
Fresh coriander
1 stalk spring onion, finely sliced
Yellow or red capsicum, sliced
Toasted cashews, or peanuts, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Red onion, thinly sliced
Carrot, either turned into ribbons using a peeler, or grated

Salad Dressing:

3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp palm sugar (or raw honey)
1/2 c water
2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 bird’s eye chili, minced

Directions:

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1. Mix all marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Place pork strips in a baking dish, and spread marinade evenly on top. Wrap in cling film, and place in the fridge to marinate for as long as you wish. I would say a minimum of two hours should do it.

2. Mix all salad dressing ingredients together in a jar, and set aside.

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3.Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and spread pork fingers out evenly on a lined baking tray, or in a cast iron skillet. Ensure the tray has a lip on it, as you don’t want the fat to run off. We’re going to be grilling these suckers to get the fat nice and crispy, so move your oven rack close to the top.

4. Put pork into oven and grill for 30-40 minutes, turning every 15 mins, until the pork is cooked through, and the fat is crispy golden brown.

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5. While the pork cooks, prepare your salad ingredients and place into a large mixing bowl.

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6. When pork is done, pull out of oven and allow to cool for about 10 mins. Slice into bite sized chunks, and add to your big bowl of salad greens.

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7. Drizzle dressing over the salad greens (be moderate – you don’t want to drown it!) and spoon over a little bit of fat from the bottom of the pork’s cooking dish. Toss to coat, and serve.

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Bon appetite!

Paleo-ize It! Leave out the honey and palm sugar, and instead add fresh orange wedges for some sweetness.

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