Five Spice Caramel Pork

I’ve wanted to cook this dish for so long after first seeing it on What could possible be better than pork belly and sticky caramel?! Pork belly has to be up there as one of my all time favourite cuts of meat. Every time I see it on a restaurant menu I just have to order it! This dish takes around 2 hours to cook so it’s not something to start straight after work. I decided to shop for the ingredients just a few hours before dinner time and couldn’t find pork belly anywhere so had to substitute some free-range pork spare ribs. This ended up turning out really well so is an economical alternative. But be warned, this is not a dish for people on a diet!

Five Spice Caramel Pork

Adapted from Recipe originally printed in Good Taste – December 2006, Page 69. Recipe by Sarah Hobbs.

Serves 8 as part of a banquet, or 4-6 people as a main.


  • 1 tbs peanut oil
  • 1 (about 1kg) pork belly or pork spare ribs, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 8 eschalots, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 125g finely chopped or grated palm sugar
  • 250ml (1 cup) water
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 8 green shallots, ends trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally
  • Steamed jasmine rice, to serve
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves

Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok or deep frying pan over high heat then cook the pork in 2 batches till browned. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium then heat remaining 2 tsp oil in wok. Add eschalots and garlic then cook till golden. Return pork to wok, along with palm sugar, five spice, star anise and water.

Increase heat to high and bring to boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 1 hour 30 minutes,  or until pork is tender, stirring occasionally.

Remove cover, then increase heat to high and cook for a further 10 minutes to allow sauce to thicken.

Add half the shallots and fish sauce to pork.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice topped with cucumber slices and coriander leaves.

The star anise flavour comes out really nicely. It is a very sweet dish, due to all the palm sugar, so the cucumber and coriander leaves are really essential in order to add a fresh element to the dish and help cut through the sweetness.

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7 Responses to Five Spice Caramel Pork

  1. Mark says:

    I had this recipe cooked for me and I was very impressed!

  2. Michael says:

    If you love pork belly, next time you’re in Sydney you MUST go to La Mint, a French-Vietnamese restaurant. Does the most amazing slow-cooked (six hours) pork belly I’ve ever had.

    You should also try cooking pork cheek! (yum yum)

  3. monique says:

    Sounds yum! I miss Sydney restaurants! I’ll have to try to go there soon.

  4. Miffy says:

    Wow! I’m so impressed! Looks good enough to eat.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You don’t mention when you put in the soy?

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