This dish is a version of surf and turf which turned out extremely delicious and nicely balanced; it has fatty, juicy meat with a very crisp skin, smokiness from the fish, acid from the white currant, ozoney salinity from the caviar and earthiness from the potato. The herbs bring some freshness and zing. To get the perfect glass-like crispy skin I use a method adapted from Peking duck.
500g pork belly with skin
Caviar – as much as you can afford. This is baeri caviar which is very good but won’t require you to remortgage your house.
Ratte potatoes – handful
Smoked fish – this is smoked trout but mackerel would also work very well
Mint – bunch
Pea shoots – bunch
White currants – punnet
Lemon balm oil (optional) See previous posts about how to make herb oils
Sous vide / Blender/ Sieve
1. Prepare the pork belly. Having experimented quite a lot to get the perfect combination of crispy skin and juicy flesh with all the fat rendered, I settle on a method which is adapted from Peking duck. This involves a few steps designed nicely cook the meat and to tighten and dry the skin to maximise the chances of it getting beautifully crisp in the final oven blast.
First you need to cook the belly in the sous vide – It will need at least 4 hours at about 60c/140f.
Take the belly skin side up and cut evenly spaced lines with a very sharp knife. I use a Stanley knife but any craft knife would also work well. If you want to use a kitchen knife that’s also possible but it will really need to be very sharp. When you are finished with the striped cuts, also put a few perpendicular cuts across (this will let you later cut perfect little squares out of the belly to help presentation). Depending on the belly you can now press it flat with something heavy on top in the fridge for a few hours, or if its nice a flat already simply skip this step.
Place the belly, again skin side up, on a wire rack above the sink or a large bowl and (carefully) pour boiling water onto it. You will see the skin tighten up and the cuts you’ve just made become more distinct. Now let cool briefly and place skin side down on some kitchen towel. Depending on how much of a hurry you are in, you can now speed up the drying process by using a hair dryer. In any case the skin needs to be completely dry before you move onto the next step or it will never go crispy in the oven.
I’m salivating even as I write this
2. Blend the fish with a dash of cream and season to taste. If you want it super-smooth you can put it through a sieve but it’s not really necessary.
3. Make the vinaigrette of white currant by blending a handful of currants with a splash of olive oil. It will not look particularly pleasant, but should taste amazing.
4. Put the potatoes whole into some well salted water and bring to the boil – they will be cooked in about 10 mins. Remove from the water, and whilst still warm toss in the vinaigrette of white currant. Season.
5. Get your oven as hot as it will go. Place the belly skin side up in a roasting dish and get into the oven. After about 10-15 mins you will see the skin turn white, then brown, then start blistering. When it is uniformly mahogany brown and bubbled remove. You’ll need to keep an eye on it because the period between perfectly cooked and burnt to shit is very, very brief.
Place on a plate/ chopping board and let rest.
6. On a warmed plate, from a squeezy bottle pipe a swirl of the fish cream and then a spoonful of caviar on one side. You can use a pastry cutter to get it nice and round if you can be bothered.
Cut the pork belly using a serrated knife (bread knife) into nice squares and place on the plate opposite the caviar.
Make a little pile of the warm potato salad behind and toss some herb garnish and a few more white currants.