Crispy slow-cooked pork belly with pumpkin mash and black sesame

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Dive into Rosana's sublimely crispy slow-cooked pork belly recipe, braised in a dashi stock made from kombu and bonito for an extra umami depth of flavour. Served with a sweet, nutmeg-spiced pumpkin mash, this is a beautifully warming twist on a Sunday roast. To save time, you can use a good-quality instant bonito dashi stock for this recipe.

First published in 2016

Dashi is usually used in Japanese dishes like miso soup, noodle soup, and tempura dipping sauce. However, with a bit of imagination, it can be used in Western recipes, much as you would use any other stock in your cooking.

Generally speaking, the use of dashi to steam meat and keep it succulent is not very common, but it's an excellent way to add fragrance and depth of flavour to meat, as is the case with this dish. The liquid from the roast can then be used to make a sauce or gravy as you would when making a roast dinner.

In this recipe, the classic dashi made from kombu and bonito flakes enhances the dish and gives the meat and pumpkin mash a beautifully intense flavour. Enjoy!




Pork belly

Classic dashi

  • 10g of bonito flakes, (katsuobushi)
  • kombu, a sheet around the size of a postcard
  • 1l water, filtered if possible

Pumpkin mash

For the gravy

To serve


The night before serving, prick the fat of the pork belly with a knife to create many holes. Add the lemon juice and peel, pepper sauce and minced garlic to a bowl and mix well
Spread the mixture all over the meat and finally sprinkle the coarse salt on the skin only. Leave covered overnight in the fridge
Now make the dashi. Wipe the kombu down with a slightly damp cloth to remove any impurities and residues from the surface, but keep the white film as it gives the umami flavour to the liquid
Add the kombu to the cold water in a medium pan and leave immersed for about 20–30 minutes
After this time, turn on the heat and allow the water to boil very gently. Just before the water boils, remove the kombu (if you leave it in the stock will turn slimy and bitter). Now add the bonito flakes to the hot liquid
Simmer for 5 minutes then switch off the heat
Remove the bonito flakes from the pan and strain through a very fine sieve into a clean container. The stock is now ready to use and should be completely clear
When ready to cook the pork, preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2 for 30 minutes
Place the meat in a clean ovenproof tray on top of the onions and add 425ml of the dashi. Bake on low temperature for 3 hours, occasionally checking there's enough dashi to keep the meat succulent
About 2 hours or so into cooking, place the pumpkin or sweet potato in a lined ovenproof tray (with the skin left on), add a little oil, season with salt and pepper, and place in the oven with the meat for about 50 minutes, or until pumpkin or sweet potato is golden and tender
Remove any skin and using a potato masher or a fork, thoroughly mash the flesh until smooth and fluffy. Add the butter, milk, and 50ml of dashi, mixing until smooth (add a little more dashi if needed)
Sprinkle in a little nutmeg, mix well and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm while the meat finishes cooking
When the pork has been cooking for 3 hours, raise the heat of the oven to the maximum to make the fat crispy. It's ready when the skin puffs and is super crispy and golden. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before slicing
While the meat is resting, make the gravy. Add all of the ingredients to a pan, along with the pan juices from the pork and a little more dashi if needed. Simmer for approximately 5 minutes, until reduced
To serve, place the mash onto a large serving platter and slice the pork belly. Place the pork on top of the mash and garnish with spring onions, black sesame, and a few sliced red chillies. Serve the gravy on the side
First published in 2016

Brazilian food and travel blogger, living in London.

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