There is a fantastic chef called Samin Nosrat who talks about the basic elements of cooking - check out her book "Salt Fat Acid Heat", it's won loads of awards. She says that at the heart of good cooking lies good decision making and the primary decision regarding heat is whether to cook slowly over gentle heat or quickly over intense heat. Cooking food over charcoal or wood on a BBQ can be a combination of both, the skill lies in deciding the perfect moment to start cooking. It is a brilliant way to introduce an extra layer of flavour to your food.
This recipe relies on some good quality pork, our amazing Lemongrass Chilli Sambal Paste and moderate heat from the BBQ - you really don't want burnt pork with a raw centre! If you're not planning to barbecue then this recipe will work just as well on a ridged grill pan or just under a regular grill.
I've used pork belly in this dish as it stays moist on the BBQ and the fat crisps up perfectly, you can use tenderloin if you prefer leaner meat. Making a little Nuoc Cham - the Vietnamese dipping sauce - finishes this dish off perfectly and while there is a little effort required to make up the skewers, it certainly beats a burnt sausage or dried up burger.
For the Pork Belly
475g Pork Belly, cut into strips and then cubes
100g Lemongrass Chilli Sambal Paste
8 x 6'' Wooden Skewers
1. If you can, try to marinade the pork overnight but if that's not possible, then at least 3-4 hours. Cut the pork belly into 1'' cubes and mix the Lemongrass Chilli Sambal paste over the meat.
2. Soak the wooden skewers in cold water for around half an hour.
3. Divide the meat into 8 portions and thread the cubes into the skewers. You can get to this point well in advance.
4. To make the Nuoc Cham dipping sauce, melt the palm sugar in the hot water then mix in the rest of the ingredients. This is a very thin sauce, it acts like an super charged seasoning just before you eat the pork.
5. It's best to cook the pork on a moderate heat, you don't want to burn the meat. Wait until the coals have lost their most fierce heat and keep the rack on it's highest setting. You want the pork to develop some crispy bits, so you'll need enough heat for that caramelization process to happen. The pork skewers will take about 10 minutes to cook, depending on your heat, keep turning them to get an even cook on all sides.
6. Once cooked, let them rest for a few minutes before devouring them with the dipping sauce.
Enjoy! We'd really love to see your photos, so tag us @somerset.foodie (instagram) or @SomersetFoodie (facebook) if you cook this at home.
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The beauty of making a paella - NO STIRRING! Get it on and go and do something else, the results are stunning. There are so many variations of this Catalan classic and (just like a risotto) there are so many different ingredients that you can use. When by the coast, fish and shellfish rule, the further inland, chicken, rabbit, sausage are the key. To make a good paella, there are a few things that you need to get right, the rest will take care of itself.
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