Crisp, Aromatic and Delicious...
Spike the skin of the pork with a pointed sharp knife as many times as you can, going through into the fat but not so deep that you go into the flesh.
Place meat on a rack over the kitchen sink.
Pour a kettle full of hot water over the skin, leave it to drain and then dry it off well.
Heat frying pan over a high heat.
Add the Sichuan and black peppercorns and shake them around for a few seconds until they darken slightly and start to smell aromatic.
Transfer them to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Transfer them into a bowl and stir in the sea salt, five spice powder and sugar.
Turn the pork flesh-side up on a tray and rub the flesh all over with the spice mixture.
Set it aside, skin side up, uncovered, in the fridge to marinate for 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
Place marinated pork belly skin-side up on rack resting on top of a roasting pan of water.
Roast the pork for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 180˚C and roast it for a further 2 hours, topping up the water in the roasting pan now and then when necessary.
Increase the oven temperature once more to 230˚C and continue to roast the pork for a further 15 minutes.
Remove it from the oven and leave it to cool and rest for 20 minutes.
Please do not tent it with foil.
Serve with rice or noodles.
Sichuan peppercorn (xanthoxylum peperitum) is native to northern China and is not related to black pepper (peper nigrum). This pepper is quite aromatic but not very hot. Before Asian cultures were introduced to chillie pepper, Sichuan peppercorn was used along with ginger to give heat to many dishes. Now, in this present time, the heat in modern Sichuan cooking comes instead from red chillie pepper (capsicum annum), introduced to Asia in the 15th century. Sichuan pepper is still called for in many traditional Chinese recipes.