Chargrilled Chiang Mai pork belly

Chargrilled Chiang Mai pork belly

Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong
Stuart Scott

Chiang Mai is at its best after the sun sets, as the night markets come alive. The energy is buzzing, the aromas and colours trap you there for hours, and it’s the perfect place to discover true authentic Thai cooking. I learnt a lot from the cooks at the night markets: I moved from one barbecue stall to another, picking their brains trying to get the perfect marinade for their chargrilled pork belly. This is the recipe I ended up with after talking to four different cooks. I decided to prepare this dish among all the action of the night markets. It was so much fun — I felt like a real local. Try to buy your pork belly from an Asian butcher and ask them for young pork belly, suitable for chargrilling. For the very best flavour, marinate it overnight.


Quantity Ingredient
4 garlic cloves, diced
4 coriander roots, scraped clean and ­finely sliced
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
60ml oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
400 g piece pork belly, bone removed

Tamarind dipping sauce

Quantity Ingredient
125ml tamarind water, (see note)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh galangal, pounded
1/2 teaspoon garlic, pounded
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 tablespoon coriander, finely sliced


  1. Using a large mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, coriander roots and coriander seeds to a ­fine paste. Transfer the paste to a large mixing bowl, stir in the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce and pepper and mix to dissolve the sugar. Add the pork and coat it all over. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or overnight for the best ƒresult.
  2. Bring water to a rapid boil in a steamer, wok or large saucepan that will hold a steamer basket. Transfer the pork to a steamer basket or bamboo steamer and place over the pan of boiling water. Cover and steam for 30–40ƒ minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pork to cool slightly.
  3. Heat a barbecue chargrill or chargrill pan to medium–high. Cut the pork into slices 1 cm thick, then chargrill on each side for 3 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the tamarind dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Cut the pork into 2ƒcm pieces and serve hot, with the dipping sauce.


  • To make tamarind water, soak 100 g tamarind pulp in 400 ml boiling water. Break it up a little with a whisk, then leave until cool enough to handle. Using your hands, break the mixture into a thick paste. Pass the mixture through a sieve; you should get about 375 ml tamarind water.
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