Monday, 23 December 2013

Spaghetti with Pork Belly, Fennel Seeds and Chilli

How's everyone doing? Are we all ready for Christmas?

We're just about ready I think at home... only few bits of food shopping and that will be it... as far as Christmas eve's dinner and Christmas day lunch.  Looking at my to-do list, tomorrow I only need to make dessert, prep the veg and brine the chickens.... nothing complicated.  In case if you're wondering, we're having chickens for Christmas not turkey... we'll roast a turkey for new year instead.

The past few days, mom and I have been baking and frying non-stop... we have lots of orders coming for homemade cookies and crisps.  Earlier today we baked trays after trays of cinnamon cookies and snow cookies (they're like shortbread but covered in icing sugar). And tomorrow we'll be baking pineapple cookies (nastar cookies) and kastangels which are Indonesian cheese sticks.  Fun day, I'm predicting :)

But even on the busiest day, I never skipped a meal... So, yesterday for lunch I made this spaghetti with pork belly, fennel seeds and chilli.  This is a real gutsy yet simple pasta dish... I love slow-roast pork belly with fennel seeds and I am a pasta addict; so borrowing the flavour elements of the pork belly and combining it with spaghetti, this is most definitely my kind of meal. 

Here's how I make it. In a heavy bottomed frying pan, heat up a splash of olive oil.  Then add in the pork belly slices and fry for a few minutes until the meat starts to colour and the fast has rendered slightly.  Be sure to use a big pan though, or otherwise the meat would braise and it won't colour nicely.

Whilst that cooking, make sure you start boiling the water in a big pot as well to cook the spaghetti.  Also, finely chop some shallots and garlic; and in a pestle and mortar, bash the fennel seeds, chili flakes and salt. Add these to the pork belly and cook until the meat becomes crisps around the edges, slightly caramelized and the spices form almost like a crust on the pork belly slices.

Season your water generously with salt and cook the pasta.  Stir in some dried oregano to the pork belly mix and if you have a bottle open, pour in some wine (I use red, but white is good too) and really scrape the sticky bits on the pan.  Turn the heat down. 

When the spaghetti has cooked to al dente, drain it in a colander, reserving some of the pasta cooking water. Toss the spaghetti around with the pork belly... if it's too dry, add a glug of olive oil and the reserved cooking water to give you a shiny finish.  The only thing I'm regretting is not having any fresh parsley... not only to sprinkle on for the sake of sprinkling/garnish but really to add bright flavour to the dish.  But it's not the end of the world obviously if you also don't have any. 

Anyway, I most likely won't be blogging again until after Christmas, so I want to say Merry Christmas to all of you... Have a wonderful time with family and/or friends with plenty of food and drinks.  And I hope Santa will bring you nice presents :)


  1. I miss pork belly :-( The pasta looks so mouthwatering!
    Happy Holidays!

  2. Pork belly, fennel seeds and pasta - you're definitely talking about my kind of dish there. Delicious - really delicious. Have a great Christmas.

  3. A big Merry Christmas to you Michael and I hope that you have a wonderful festive season full of good food and fun! :D It has been such a pleasure reading your blog!

  4. That is one delicious, and super rich spaghetti, Michael. Never...ever, have I made it with pork belly, although I've made the 'rabbiata' sauce...chilli sauce in Italian!
    Merry Christmas, my dear friend!

  5. That sounds amazing Michael. Pork belly, fennel, chilli - stunning combination, would go brilliant over more than just pasta I reckon. Hope you've had a great christmas!!

  6. Damn, i really missed pork belly a.k.a samcan,
    nver paired it with fennel seed insead chinese five spice before, sounds a great idea!!!
    Merry christmas and happy holidays, God blessed you all the way!