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Slow-roast pork belly with pickled plums

Serves: 6
timePrep time: 30 mins
timeTotal time:
Slow-roast pork belly with pickled plums
Recipe photograph by Kris Kirkham

Slow-roast pork belly with pickled plums

These fragrant plums, pickled with ginger and star anise, are the perfect foil for the richness of slow-roast pork belly in a Chinese-style sauce, but they also work brilliantly with roast duck

Serves: 6
timePrep time: 30 mins
timeTotal time:

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Nutritional information (per serving)

Rebecca Woollard

Rebecca Woollard

Rebecca Woollard started her culinary career as a chalet cook. She is now a food stylist and recipe writer with 10 years of magazine experience.
See more of Rebecca Woollard’s recipes
Rebecca Woollard

Rebecca Woollard

Rebecca Woollard started her culinary career as a chalet cook. She is now a food stylist and recipe writer with 10 years of magazine experience.
See more of Rebecca Woollard’s recipes


  • 2 pieces (about 700g each) boneless pork belly, skin scored
  • 2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt, plus extra
  • 4 heaped tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • sticky rice, to serve
For the pickled plums
  • 6-8 firm, purple skinned plums, halved, stoned and thinly sliced
  • 2 echalion shallots, sliced into rings
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125ml rice wine vinegar
  • 1 star anise
  • 40g root ginger, coarsely grated
For the stir-fried greens
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
  • 600g Tenderstem broccoli, cut in half, stems cut in half again lengthways
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced (deseeded if you prefer)
  • 20g Thai basil, leaves picked
  • sesame oil, to drizzle

Step by step

Get ahead
Cook the pork a day in advance. Cool in whole pieces, then shred once it’s at room temperature (this stops it drying out), toss with the juices and sauce, then chill. The next day, reheat in a saucepan, adding a splash of water and a little extra hoisin sauce if you like. The pickled plums can be made up to 3 days ahead. Keep them in their pickling liquid in the fridge until ready to serve.
  1. The day before cooking, cut some deep scores into the flesh of the pork belly pieces. Mix the Chinese 5 spice with the salt and rub it all over the meat, getting it right into the slashes, but avoiding the skin. Put the meat on a baking tray, skin-side up, and leave overnight uncovered in the bottom of the fridge to dry out the skin properly.
  2. The next day, preheat the oven to 260°C, fan 240°C, gas 10, or as high as it will go. Wrap the belly pieces in individual pieces of foil so that the meat is completely enclosed in a parcel but the skin is left exposed, and place on a baking tray. Season the skin with fine salt and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the skin has crackled. Turn the oven down to 130°C, fan 110°C, gas 1 and cook the pork for another 4 hours, gently closing the foil up around the meat as it shrinks. If the juices start to leak out of the foil parcels, refold them to keep them watertight.
  3. Meanwhile, put the plums and shallots into a wide, shallow heatproof container. Heat the sugar, rice wine vinegar, star anise and ginger in a small pan over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, swirling occasionally. Pour the mixture over the plums, then cover with a layer of clingfilm or baking paper directly touching the surface of the plums. Press them down to submerge them fully in the liquid, then leave to pickle at room temperature while the pork cooks. Give them a gentle stir every now and then and re-cover.
  4. Once the pork is cooked and the meat comes away easily when prodded with a fork, remove it from the oven and carefully pour all the juices from the parcels into a saucepan. Spoon off and discard as much of the fat from the cooking juices as you can, then add the hoisin sauce and Shaoxing wine to the pan and heat gently, stirring. While it’s heating, remove the crackling from the pork and roughly shred the meat with two forks (see ‘Get ahead’, opposite, if preparing the day before serving). Tip the shredded meat into the saucepan and stir to coat in the hoisin mixture. Cover with foil and keep warm. Cut the crackling into shards and drain the pickled plums.
  5. Heat a large wok over a high heat, add the oil and when smoking, throw in the broccoli and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes, adding a splash of hot water halfway through, until the broccoli is just tender but still with a good bite. Add the garlic and chilli and stir-fry for a further minute, adding a little more oil if needed. Once it’s fragrant, turn off the heat then stir through the basil and a generous drizzle of sesame oil and season well with salt. Briefly reheat the pork until sizzling, then serve with the broccoli, plums and sticky rice.

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