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Vietnamese Pork Roast

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  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp annatto seeds
  • 3 lbs center-cut pork belly, skin removed (about 6 inches wide and 9 inches long)
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • Kitchen twine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil



    Marinate the pork.

    1.  Crush the bay leaves and break apart the star anise pods and add them to a small sauce pot. Add vegetable oil and, over medium heat, gently toast the spices for 5 minutes.

    2.  Add the annatto seeds to the pot, then turn off the heat and cover. Let the spices steep together for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    3.  Place the pork belly in a large resealable bag and add the minced garlic, fish sauce, black pepper, and sugar. Strain the cooled spiced oil and add it to the bag, too. Seal and massage the marinade into the belly.

    4.  Place the bag onto a baking pan and transfer to the fridge. Marinate the belly for at least 24 hours, or up to 3 days. Flip the pork belly every 12 hours.

    Truss the pork.

    5.  To truss the pork, begin by cutting 9 strings of cotton twine, each 18 inches in length.

    6.  Lay the strings in vertical, parallel lines across a 9x13 inch baking pan, about ½ inch apart.

    7.  Remove the pork belly from the marinade and place, fat-side down, on the 6” side across all 9 strings.

    8.  Carefully roll the pork belly into a tight log and secure it with the strings underneath. Cut the excess twine and discard.

    Roast the pork.




    9.  Place the trussed pork onto a wire rack-lined baking pan that’s the closest in size to pork.

    10.  Put the pan on the middle rack of a cold oven. Set the oven at 250°F and roast until the temperature of the pork on a thermometer registers at least 145°F, about 2 hours. 

    11.  Remove the pork and increase the heat to 425°F. When the oven comes to temperature, return the pork to the oven and roast until the pork is well? browned, 15 to 30 minutes.

    12.  Turn off the oven, but keep the roast there to finish cooking for another 30 minutes in the oven’s residual heat.

    13.  Remove the baking pan from the oven. Baste the roast with sesame oil, and transfer to a platter.

    Make a sauce with the drippings and serve.

    14.  Remove the wire rack from the baking pan and add ½ cup water. Carefully place it on the stovetop over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

    15.  Use a spatula to lift up all the drippings stuck to the pan. Continue simmering until the drippings dissolve into a sauce, about 5 minutes.

    16.  Pour the sauce into a measuring cup. If there’s a lot of fat, carefully tilt the cup to remove as much (or as little!) fat as you’d like.

    17.  To serve, carve the roast into ½-inch medallions. Finish with a generous pour of the sauce over the medallions.


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