1kg/2lb 4oz pork belly, rib bones removed
3 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tsp sugar
750ml/1 pint 7fl oz chicken stock
1 whole star anise
1 stick cinnamon or cassia bark
7.5cm/3in piece fresh ginger, unpeeled
3-4 tbsp Shaoxing wine (substitute dry sherry if unavailable)
125ml/4fl oz dark soy sauce
pinch freshly ground black pepper
Blanch the pork belly. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the pork belly to the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes (this will remove the excess fat).
Remove the pork, drain and refresh. Cut into bite-sized chunks.
Heat some of the oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole dish and add the pork. Brown the pork pieces (you may need to do this in batches, adding more oil as you go). Be careful because it may spatter a bit.
Remove the browned pieces with a slotted spoon and keep to one side.
Drain off the fat, leaving about two tablespoons' worth in the casserole.
Add the sugar to the pan and stir. After a few minutes, the sugar will turn brown and begin to caramelise. When it's a pale brown colour, add the chicken stock and stir, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add the star anise and the cinnamon or cassia bark. With the flat side of a knife, bash the ginger, to reveal the inside. Add to the pan.
Add the Shaoxing wine and soy sauce and stir.
Return the pork to the pan. The stock should just cover the pork, so add more or less according to the size of your casserole, or top up with a bit of water. Add a pinch of black pepper.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and turn the heat to low. Simmer for about two hours.
For the last half-hour, remove the lid and reduce the sauce. The sauce should be rich and reduced and the pork meltingly tender.
At the end of the cooking time, slice the spring onions on the diagonal into 5cm/2in lengths and add to the pork. Simmer for another five minutes or so.
Serve the pork in a bowl with some boiled white rice.
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