1.8kg boneless pork belly, thick end
2L boiling water
3 1/2 Tbsp salt flakes
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra 2 tsp
4 cups water
3 star anise
4-6 whole gem lettuces
8 green onions
1/3 cup short or long grain rice, cooked
3 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted and freshly ground
Thai basil leaves and fried round rice paper wrappers, to serve
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp caster sugar
2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 1/2Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2Tbsp yuzu juice or lime juice
1 tsp sesame oil
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Put pork on a rack in sink. Pat dry with paper towel, then slowly pour boiling water over skin. Pat pork dry and transfer to a board (skin will be supple and easy to score). Using a sharp knife, cut lines into skin about 1cm apart and no more than 1cm deep. Rub skin with 2 tablespoons of the salt flakes.
Put on a rack and refrigerate on a tray, uncovered, for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. This will dry out skin and ensure great crackling.
Preheat oven to 150°C fan-forced (170°C conventional). Wipe salt and any moisture from pork. Rub oil and remaining 11/2 tablespoons of salt flakes all over. Transfer to a rack in a roasting tin, skin-side up. Pour 4 cups of water and star anise into tray, don’t wet top layer of skin on pork. Roast for 11/2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure tray doesn’t dry out, as it keeps meat moist and stops dripping fat from burning.
During last 30-40 minutes of roasting, increase oven to 230°C fan-forced (250°C conventional) to finish crackling skin. If skin is still not fully crispy by then, grill it for 5 minutes at end. Set pork aside for 5 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, for the dressing, mix all ingredients together and set aside.
Cut gem lettuces in half lengthways. Heat chargrill pan on high. Cook lettuce on open side only for about 2-3 minutes, set aside on a serving platter. Add onions to hot plate and grill for a couple of minutes to char. Remove and slice each onion into four on an angle and sprinkle over lettuce.
Toss rice in extra olive oil. Heat a frying pan on medium heat. Cook rice, tossing, for 5-6 minutes until toasted. Remove from pan and cool completely.
Top lettuce with rice, dressing and sesame seeds. Serve pork belly slices with Thai basil leaves and puffed rice paper.