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

C is for Caribbean Chicken

This Caribbean Jerk Chicken recipe is a great dish to cook when you’ve got a good few mouths to feed. It takes a bit of preparation, but you can do this in advance. The coconut ‘rice n peas’ that I’ve served with it takes about 5 minutes of preparation, 5 minutes of cooking where you need to pay attention and then just leave to cook by itself whilst you chat to your guests.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

Preparation time: 15 minutes + minimum 2 hours to marinate (can be prepared up to 24hours in advance).

Cooking time: 1 hour


  • 6 chicken breasts (without skin or bones)
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 ½ thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, chopped up
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 60ml dark rum (and a dash extra for good measure)
  • 60ml lime juice
  • 60ml soy sauce
  • 120ml cider vinegar
  • 2 fresh red chiles, whole
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
Caribbean Jerk chicken - preparing the marinade

Caribbean Jerk chicken – preparing the marinade


  1. Put 3-4 small slashes into each chicken breast. This will allow the marinade to flavour to permeate the chicken.
  2. If you have a large food processor, get this out, else if you just have a hand blender find a container which wont have marinade flying out of (something tall).
  3. Put all the spices, garlic, fresh ginger, dark brown sugar, rum, lime juice, soy sauce, cider vinegar, chillies and onion in your container and blend until everything is a fine paste.
  4. Put the chicken breasts in a sealable container and pour the marinade over the top. Leave for 2 – 24hours.
  5. When you’re ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to 200°C
  6. In a tin-foil lined dish put the chicken and marinade. Cook for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, prepare the ‘rice n peas’ recipe (below). Then take the chicken out the oven and pour out the majority of the watery marinade, then put back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
  8. The chicken should have a marinade crust on it and still be juicy in the middle.
Caribbean Jerk Chicken - marinated and ready for the oven

Caribbean Jerk Chicken – marinated and ready for the oven

Caribbean Jerk Chicken - just out the oven

Caribbean Jerk Chicken – just out the oven

Rice n peas

The peas are actually ‘gungo’ peas (also known as pigeon peas). If you can’t get hold of them, you can use red kidney beans or a mixed beans instead. I’ve also added sweetcorn as I’m a big fan of getting in as many of your 5-a-day as possible.

The stock can be made up using hot water and one vegetable stock cube or you can use pre-made stock, either will work equally well.

'Rice n peas' preparation

‘Rice n peas’ preparation

'Rice n peas' - preparation

‘Rice n peas’ – preparation

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes


  • 1 can gungo peas (pigeon peas) or black-eyed beans if you can’t get hold of them.
  • 200g sweetcorn
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red chile, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 400g long grain rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Large pinch of salt
  • A few turns of freshly ground pepper


  1. In a large pan, add the oil and fry the onion over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes until translucent and starting to get a bit of colour. The add the chopped chilli and garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.
  2. Pour in the rice and slick with all oil, onions, garlic and chilli.
  3. Pour over the vegetable stock, coconut milk, thyme, salt, pepper and gungo peas and bring to the boil. As soon as the rice is boiling, turn the heat down low, put a lid on and simmer for 15 minutes (by which time all the liquid should be absorbed)
  4. 5 minutes before the rice is ready, add the sweetcorn and put the lid back on, then the rice should be sticky and ready to eat.

Serve both together and it should be a pretty good combination.