Udon noodle and pork-belly soup

U is for Udon and slow-roasted pork belly soup

After the last few weeks of splurging (is that a real word? well…over indulging in any case) I attempted a healthier tack this week, hence the asian themed food, which, by default is usually a low-fat starting point for supper. I say attempted, as I decided the keep the fat on the pork belly so that I could get some crispy skin…well it is the tastiest part after all!

If you’re more restrained than me, you can always cut away the fat from the pork belly before you start….or not, it’s up to you. This dish is deeply warming and delicious either way, with layers of flavour and surprisingly filling.

The slow-roast pork belly can be prepared earlier (even the day before and kept wrapped up in the fridge) to be re-heated in the oven before you assemble the soup.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 3 hours for the pork + 15 minutes for the soup itself


For the slow roast pork belly

  • 700g joint of pork belly (I use about 175g per serving of soup)
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp dried crushed chillies
  • 1 inch of ginger, cut into fine sticks
  • 120ml low-salt soy sauce
  • 600ml water

For the udon noodle soup

  • 1 packet of udon noodles (inside the packet they are separated into individual portions)
  • 1 portion of slow roasted pork belly (as per the below recipe)
  • liquid reserved from slow roasted pork belly
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 2 medium carrots – cut into fine match sticks
  • 1 red pepper – cut into fine match sticks
  • 1 handful green beans (optional)
  • 2 spring onions
  • handful of fresh coriander – chopped.


For the slow roast pork belly

  1. Pre-heat the over to 200°C
  2. Drizzle a little sesame oil in a frying pan, then over a medium heat brown the pork joint on all sides to seal in the flavour. I leave the skin side down for an extra minute to ensure it goes as crispy as possible without letting it burn.
  3. Whilst you’re browning the joint, put all the other ingredients for the pork belly in a bowl and mix together.
  4. Once browned, transfer the meat to a baking dish and pour the marinade over the top. Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes to allow the skin to crisp up even more. Then turn the temperature down to 150°C, cover the dish with tin foil and allow to cook slowly for another 2½ hours.
  5. After cooking, the meat should have taken on some of the flavours of the marinade and be really tender and ready to eat (but not yet). Remove the meat from the marinade, wrapping in tin foil and keeping both for the soup below.

Slow roast pork belly in marinade


(cooking enough pork belly for 2)

For the udon noodle soup

  1. This soup is more of an assembly job. Start by boiling the Udon noodles in boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Whilst you’re doing this, pour the left over pork marinade in a saucepan with the chicken stock and boil on a high heat until slightly reduced, adding the carrots, peppers, spring onions and green beans if using for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  2. Drain the Udon once cooked, and transfer to a soup bowl. Pour over the liquid and vegetables, and cut the pork belly into ½cm slices and add to the bowl. Garnish with fresh coriander and you’re ready to serve.

You can also soft boil an egg and add this now as is traditional in many asian soups, but having had enough protein today I decided to leave the egg out this time.

Udon noodles


Udon noodle and pork-belly soup

Roast Duck - serving

D – mid-week roast Duck

It is true, roasting meat does take a long time to do, but I promise this dish takes literally minutes of preparation and then you can leave it to do its thing until it’s ready to eat (if you don’t mind the waiting). I had a couple of friends (“handy volunteers” as they called themselves) round for dinner mid-week. They normally finish work slightly later than me, so this was perfect.

In this recipe for Roast duck with thyme, I use duck legs (including the thigh). This does not compromise on flavour (compared with duck breast) and is cheaper too. You can of course use duck breasts if you wish, just make sure they have the skin on too. You won’t need any extra fat/oil in this meal, as there’s already plenty in the duck, which oozes out, permeating the potatoes and makes everything golden crisp.

Roast Duck - serving



Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 1.5 – 2 hours


  • duck thighs – one per person
  • baking potatoes – one per person
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salad leaves
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil (for the salad dressing)
  • 1 tbsp Cider vinegar
  • A spritz of lemon juice
  • Salt
  • A few turns of pepper

Roast duck - prepped for the oven



  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Put the duck thighs in a large roast dish – you’ll need one with nigh sides as lots of duck fat will ooze out. If you don’t have a large enough dish, split over two.
  2. Chop the baking potatoes (skins left on, but given a quick wash) into 2cm squares and scatter around the legs, so they’re a snug fit.
  3. Sprinkle over a large pinch of salt and coupe of turns of freshly ground pepper. Top with a few sprigs of fresh thyme and put in the oven and leave to cook.
  4. After an hour of cooking, I usually take it out for a minute and turn the roasting potatoes around to ensure they’re evenly coated in the duck fat and juices. I also put the oven up to 200° C for the last half and hour of cooking to ensure everything is extra crispy. If it needs a little bit longer, leave it in the oven until it’s crisp enough for you.

Roast duck - fresh from the oven


I served my duck and potatoes with some shop-bought salad leaves (mid-week time saving). In a small bowl I make a dressing, by whisking together olive oil, cider vinegar, a spritz of lemon and a small pinch of salt.

This could not be easier to make, and I’ve yet to find anyone who can resist duck!

Making the salad dressing