Story of a Plate: Pork Belly at Black Sheep Restaurant

On the menu: Chinese 5 spice-hoisin Pork Belly w/sweet potato purée, Chinese cabbage & crackling

From chef Jonathan Japha:

“When we came about doing this thing I remember I was somewhere eating char sui bao – this is that hoisin and pork belly dumpling – and that’s the hoisin sauce and the pork belly, which for me is a real thing. I think that’s a really good combination, that sweet sticky thing, and it wasn’t anywhere near enough to that, but the idea is that when you glaze the belly with the hoisin sauce, you get that sticky caramelised thing; slightly blackened, like a lacquer, and that is really good, and sweet, and sticky, and Chinese, and all of that.

We have in the past served that pork belly dish with a much more Western spin, with braised cabbage, and apple compote, and Cumberland sauce, and the dish works perfectly well. But I think that this is the best of them: I think this dish hits every single one of those easy eating childhood fantasy pork dishes that you could possibly want. It’s not overly challenging; the belly is really soft; the flavours of the dish are the sweet and savoury that you find in the Asian world, and the whole combination really does work very well.

A final thing about the pork belly is the importance of the sprouts, and the weird musky, earth-like flavour that works off the sweet and the salty. The dish is not nearly as interesting or cool without the sprouts – [Like the rug in The Big Lebowski] they really tie the dish together”.

Where to get it: Black Sheep Restaurant, 104 Kloof Str., Cape Town. 021 426 2661

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