Chinese New Year 2019

Year of the Pig

There are many myths and legends about the year of the pig.

One of the myths said that the pig was the last to arrive when the Jade Emperor called all the animals for an important meeting.

Eleven animals arrived for the meeting and just as the Emperor was about to end the meeting, an oink and a squeal announced the arrival of the pig.

It seemed that the "lazy pig" had become hungry on the way and stopped for a feast, after which he promptly fell asleep and so was the last animal to arrive at the meeting.

Another legend said that because of his weight, the pig was a very slow swimmer and could not beat the other animals.

This is the year of the Earth pig. The Chinese zodiac has five elements, fire, earth, metal, water and wood.

If you're born in the year of the pig, you're in good company.

Well known pigs include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hillary Clinton, Mark Wahlberg and Amy Winehouse.

Why not try this recipe from Australian Pork to celebrate this Chinese New Year?

Crispy Asian pork belly

½ cup reduced salt soy sauce

½ cup orange juice

1/3 cup Chinese cooking wine

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup honey

2 tsp sesame oil

3cm piece ginger, peeled, finely grated

2 garlic cloves, crushed

4 whole star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

1.5 kg piece boneless pork belly

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp sea salt flakes

Steamed baby bok choy and jasmine rice, to serve

    Combine soy sauce, ½ cup water, orange juice, cooking wine, sugar, honey, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, star anise and cinnamon sticks in a heavy-based baking pan.

    Preheat oven to 220˚C/200˚C fan-forced.

    Using a sharp knife, cut pork rind into a honeycomb pattern at 1cm intervals. Rub pork rind with oil and then rub in the salt. Place pork belly into the soy sauce mixture (ensuring that the pork rind is not covered by the soy sauce mixture).

    Roast for 40 minutes or until rind is golden and crisp. Add 1 cup of water to the cooking liquid. Roast for a further 30-35 minutes or until pork is just cooked through.

    Place pork onto a chopping board. Cover loosely with foil and set aside. Place roasting pan over a medium heat and bring the cooking liquid to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes or until slightly thickened and syrupy. Return pork to the hot syrup.

    Sliced pork and serve with the pan juices, steamed baby bok choy and jasmine rice.

      Note, for extra crisp pork crackling, the day before you cook the pork, place it rind side up, uncovered on a rack in the fridge and leave it overnight. Stand for 20 minutes at room temperature and dry with paper towel before roasting.