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Vietnamese Pork Belly & Lychee Salad

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I have a serious weakness for all sorts of Asian food and in summer I seem to develop an even bigger weakness for fresh Asian salads. Those classic combinations of fruit, coriander, chilli, lime juice and the saltiness of fish sauce is enough to get me dreaming up a range of concoctions for our next meal. So, when you combine that love of Asian salads alongside my husbands obsession with pork belly, you have the inspiration for this meal.

The beauty of these salads is how easily ingredients can be substituted to suit your own tastes or simply what is available in the grocery store. Instead of pork belly try pork fillet, beef, lamb, prawns or chicken - keep the same marinade, ditch it, or change it to suit the meat you've chosen or your personal taste. If lychees aren't available use mango, nectarines or even watermelon. Feeling like a more filling meal? Toss through vermicelli or bean thread noodles. Don't like cashews? Use peanuts or macadamias. The options are endless.

Make sure you give this recipe a go for a simple mid week meal or to entertain your friends with something amazingly delicious.

After you've tried it once, make sure that whatever you do you try a few combinations over time ~ I don't think I've eve made the same salad twice!

Vietnamese Marinated Pork Belly

Marinade Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

500-600g pork belly (or belly rashers)

6 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 1/2cm piece of fresh ginger, grated

Lychee Salad

1/2 cup coriander leaves

3 lebanese cucumber, halved lengthways, de-seeded and sliced

1 punnet baby roma tomatoes halved lengthways

1 can lychees, drained and roughly torn

To Garnish: A sprinkling of raw or roasted cashews per person

Dressing

1-2 tablespoons fish sauce

1-2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

Juice of 2-3 fresh limes (or 1 lime and 1 lemon)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

METHOD

1. Vietnamese Marinated Pork Belly (STEPS 1, 4 and 5) - Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a ceramic dish. Add the pork and toss to coat. Cover and refridgerate for at least 2 hours. Remove the pork from the fridge about 20 minutes prior to cooking.

2. Lychee Salad (STEPS 2 and 5) - Prepare all of the salad ingredients (except cashews) and place in a salad bowl.

3. Dressing (STEP 3 and 5) - Add all ingredients to a jar and shake to combine. Set aside.

TIP: In regards to dressings I generally stick to the 'taste till it's right' rule of thumb, so I suggest you do the same. I recommend you do the same. Each ingredient for this dressing represents an important element in the combination of traditional Thai/Vietnamese flavours. Fish sauce is salty, lime juice is sour, caster sugar and sweet chilli are sweet, while the sweet chilli also helps to add a subtle heat for the spicy element. If you love heat, add some fresh chilli as well. Be careful adding additional rice vinegar and sesame oil as both of these ingredients only need small amounts to alter flavour - use a dash at a time! Whatever flavour is lacking, simply add the right element and continue tasting until it is perfect for your personal taste.

4. Vietnamese Marinated Pork Belly - Heat a frypan, grill pan or BBQ to medium high. You should not need oil in the pan if using a frypan, but if necessary use a vegetable based oil. Once your pan or BBQ is heated, cook the pork belly, searing all sides and turning often to avoid burning the mariade. Baste the meat continually with excess marinade during the cooking process. Once cooked, remove from heat, cover and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

TIP: Watch the marinade as it burns easily due to the sugar content. You can use baking paper as an additional layer between the meat and pan to assist with this, or turn the heat down slightly to reduce it burning quickly.

5. Vietnamese Marinated Pork Belly, Lychee Salad and Dressing - Toss the dressing through the salad and arrange on individual plates. Cut the pork belly into bite sizes chunks and place on top of the salad. Sprinkle with cashews and serve!

Vietnamese Pork Belly & Lychee Salad served with Coconut Rice.

Tablescape: Gorgeous table runner by Fatto Col Amore by Wendy - visit her Facebook Page HERE to view more designs and find out what market she'll be at next!

TIP: I made a coconut rice to serve alongside this salad. It is easy to make and tastes devine. If you don't have sticky rice, use a short grain rice instead.

Coconut Rice

Soak 100g sticky rice in cold water for 30 mins. Drain and tip into a saucepan, along with 2-3 kaffir lime leaves and a good pinch of salt. Pour over 165ml can coconut milk, use 1tbps water to rinse out the can and pour this over the rice, too. Pop on the lid, bring to the boil, then turn the heat to its lowest setting and simmer for 10 mins. Turn off the heat and leave to steam for 10 mins more. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

NOTE: Keep a close eye on the rice while it is simmering, as it can stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir it occasionally to avoid it burning on the base. After fluffing with a fork you can add a little extra coconut milk or water, dash by dash, to loosen the rice if necessary before serving. You can also add a little bit of extra flavour by adding some chopped coriander and/or a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

WINE SUGGESTION

Asian food could not possibly be more perfect than it is with a riesling or a gewürztraminer. So, quick, go get one (or 3) and throw it in the fridge to chill ASAP. Yum.

Follow @tippleandfodder on Instagram for more inspiration to tickle your tastebuds.

If you have any variations or recipes you'd like me to feature, please pop onto Instagram and follow @tippleandfodder to leave suggestions on my posts, or send me an email letting me know what recipe you'd love to see on the blog.

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for recipes, dinner parties and as I eat my way around Sydney's Inner West and beyond! All Blog previews will be advertised via Instagram.

For all enquires please email: hello@tippleandfodder.com

People who love to eat

are always the best people.

- Julia Child