Ready in 2 1/2 hours (plus chilling), makes 12.
A little planning is needed here, but the satisfying results are well worth the effort. Serve these in small soft rolls, baps or slider buns.
- 1 cinnamon stick, snapped into pieces
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tsp white peppercorns
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 star anise
- 3 tbsp salt
- 1 litre water
- Fresh peel of 1 mandarin
- 800g pork belly, skin cut 5mm apart for crackling
- 400ml chicken stock
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 12 small bread rolls
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 2 spring onions, shredded
- 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp Sriracha sauce or hot Asian chilli sauce (from Asian supermarkets)
1. Put cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, peppercorns, chilli flakes and star anise in a dry frying pan. Toast over a low heat for 2 minutes. Use a pestle and mortar and pound until roughly ground.
2. Place ground spices in a saucepan with salt, water and mandarin peel. Bring to the boil and turn off. Pour into a large bowl to cool. Sit pork in brine, cover and chill for 12 hours.
3. Heat oven to 180°C fan bake. Discard brine and put pork skin-side up in a roasting dish. Pour in stock, oil and cover with foil. Roast 1½ hours. Remove foil and increase heat to 220°C. Cook 20 to 30 minutes until skin is golden. Rest for 15 minutes. Slice.
4. To serve, open up the buns, add pork, top with cucumber, spring onion, hoisin and a little Sriracha or hot Asian chilli sauce.