One thousand layer pork belly

One thousand layer pork belly

Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong
Stuart Scott

In the back alleys of Lijiang’s old town, I stumbled across a gem of a restaurant serving traditional Naxi cuisine. It had a great kitchen, which opened out onto the streets, so you could see the chefs in action. Wok-burners were roaring, chopping boards were drumming, and steamers were busy slow-cooking this Naxi favourite. Although it doesn’t literally have 1000 layers of pork, this dish does look impressive with its many layers of finely sliced pork belly. You can buy pickled mustard greens at your local Asian market in vacuum-sealed bags; choose the Chinese variety, which has a bit of chilli through it. The mustard greens are essential to this dish, cutting through the richness of the pork belly.


Quantity Ingredient
500g boneless pork belly, skin scored
250g pickled mustard greens
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
coriander leaves, to garnish, optional
steamed jasmine rice, to serve


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
4cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
2 teaspoons brown sugar


  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Coat the pork with the marinade, then cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, soak the pickled mustard greens in cold water for 1 hour, or until very well chilled and firm. Strain well and slice finely. Set aside.
  3. Remove the pork from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Brush off any garlic or ginger pieces from the surface of the pork and pat the pork dry with paper towels.
  4. Heat a deep, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil, then place the pork skin side down in the pan and brown for 4 minutes. Turn over and brown the other side for a further 4 minutes.
  5. Pour just enough hot water into the pan to cover the pork. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10minutes.
  6. Now submerge the pork belly in an ice bath and leave to cool for 5 minutes — this will make it much easier to slice it finely. (Alternatively, you can cool it, then cover and place inthe freezer for 1 hour.)
  7. Slice the pork as finely as you can, using a large sharp knife. Arrange each slice in a heatproof bowl, overlapping the slices neatly, with the fat end on top, creating a ‘1000 layer’ effect across the bowl and up the edges.
  8. Arrange the mustard greens on top of the layered pork, then pour in the reserved marinade.
  9. Half-fill a steamer, wok or large saucepan with water and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Place the bowl of pork in a steamer basket, then set over the pan of boiling water and cover. Steam for 1½ hours, replenishing the hot water as needed every 30 minutes or so.
  10. Remove the bowl from the steamer. Place a serving plate upside down over the bowl, then angle it until the liquid from the pork pours out, catching the liquid in a bowl. Allow the pork to cool for 10 minutes.
  11. With the plate still on top of the bowl, quickly invert the bowl, so that the bowl is now on top of the serving plate. Remove the bowl and pour the liquid over the pork.
  12. Garnish with coriander, if desired, and serve with steamed jasmine rice.
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