A delicious combination of flavours, this dish can be teamed up with a lightly spiced salad, mash or coconut rice.
The night before cooking – or at least the morning before a supper – score the skin of your belly of pork with a sharp knife at 1cm intervals, or ask your butcher to do so. Place it on a trivet in the sink, skin-side up, and pour a kettle of boiling water over the top (this helps to make the crackling crisp up). Pat dry with kitchen paper.
Place the pork on a board, skin-side down and, using a fork, pierce the meat aggressively all over the flesh and sides – but not the skin – to help the marinade to penetrate. I pierce around 40–50 times in all.
Blend together all the ingredients for the marinade with 2 tbsp of water until smooth (I use a hand-held blender), then rub it all over the flesh, leaving the skin free of marinade.
Place the pork, skin-side up, in a roasting tray in which it fits snugly. Place in the fridge (unwrapped so that the skin can dry out) overnight, or for at least a good five to six hours, making sure all the marinade is on the underside.
When you’re ready to cook, return the meat to room temperature and preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Mix together the 3⁄4 tsp of salt and the ground fennel seeds, sprinkle evenly over the skin and rub in well. Pour 240ml of water into the tray with the pork (it should not come up to the skin) and place it in the centre of the oven. Cook for two and a half hours. Increase the oven temperature to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 and cook for a final 30 minutes, checking the water every 10 minutes and adding a splash more if it dries up.
Remove the pork from the oven and allow it to rest for 15–20 minutes, covered in foil. Spoon off any excess fat from the tray, then taste and adjust the seasoning of the juices, adding the maple syrup if you like, and reducing them over a medium heat if they seem too thin. Serve the pork with the remaining pan juices; there won’t be a lot but what remains will be intense.
You can find this recipe in Anjum's new cookbook Eat Right for Your Body Type.
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