Big Call: The Best Pork Belly Dish Ever

11.12am, Wednesday, 23rd June, Royal Street, East Perth, Western Australia
It’s a really nice day across here in Perth, and last night we did our second wine dinner at The Silver Spoon– right on the infamous kidney-shaped roundabout in Victoria Park – with Stephen the owner and Michael Illari the chef. This time last year when we did our first wine dinner with the Spoon, they had only just opened, and it was their first-ever wine dinner. Whilst everything that night was great, they’ve gone to seriously new heights 12 months on.

The Silver Spoon pork belly

One dish that seems to be having a big run wherever we’ve worked these past 18 months is pork belly. And last night, Michael’s version of the dish is THE best I’ve seen, anywhere that I’ve worked in the world over the last six months. See the picture I put in with the 2008 FDW[7C] Adelaide Hills Chardonnay (100% wild ferment). I tried to get a good side on view of the Chilli Glazed Pork Belly, Celeriac and Apple” so you could see exactly what Michael did that was so special – and resulted in us being able to shred it by just waving a fork gently through it.

I had a long chat with Michael afterward to get the details, and here’s how it went:

He put the whole strip of pork belly into a ‘master stock’ loaded up with Chinese herbs and aromatics to soak for two days. Then he cut the top layer of skin off to ensure that the fat layer got the attention it needed, sealed it up and cooked it through, crispy grilling the skin and chilli glazing it before adding it back to the meat before serving it up. The master stock had chicken stock added and was reduced to a sweet salty syrup the consistency of honey, which was dribbled around the pork, celeriac puree was added, and the shredded apple and apple juice foam sat on top of the crispy skin to take the sting out of the chilli.

With the flavours and acid levels in the Chardonnay – magic!

And it stayed the same from there on into the Grilled Snapper, Shitake Broth, Coriander and Nouc Cham, which was set up with the 2008 Virgilius Viognier – and as you shifted your nose from the glass of Viognier and went across to the broth – the aromatic lift was almost identical with a  lemongrass and ginger thing going on.

Goat cheese and beetroot

Let alone the Goat Cheese, Candied Beetroot and Pistachio with the 2005 The Octavius Shiraz – basically beetroot done three ways and making a neat creamy sweet and savoury finish to the evening.

 With the sharp bar, excellent local (Western Australia) and ‘imported’ (rest of Australia) wine list, and the extremely talented Michael Illari at the stove , The Silver Spoon is hammering now and destined for great things! And we love our annual outing there – wouldn’t miss it for anything!

PS Nice to see more Coffin Bay oysters from our South Australian (Eyre Peninsula) part of the world served three ways last night as a starter with the 2005 Vintage Jansz. These shellfish are being used more and more as the premium oyster of choice for chefs across Australia – and it’s great to see the little town making big foodie waves.

4 responses to “Big Call: The Best Pork Belly Dish Ever

  1. Hi Jane,

    The Silver Spoon sounds incredible. The next time Val and I are over I reckon a trip to WA will be a must…

    My cousin lives in WA and I’d love to direct her to one of your wine dinners. Are you over there for much longer? If so, are there any dinners I could recommend she attend?



  2. Great article. Sounds like an awesome night! It’s nice to see Michael is getting reconized for his talents. wish I could have been there for the oysters and pork belly! Its funny, I was just asking Michael about the Adelaide Area and will start looking for it in the states. Michigan says Hi.

  3. Elizabeth Violet

    Not only does the mouth watering Pork Belly sound unique but also the chef Michael must be pretty innovative & inimitable in his style to produce such a dish. Just add the well chosen wines & you must have a night to rember. I’ll be there (as long as Michael is the chef still)! See you LizzieViolet

  4. I kid you folk not about how good this was, and only wish we could incorporate the ‘scratch & sniff’ technology to catch the aromas – which would have spoken for themselves. But it was the way the apple cut the chilli and worked, and that it wasn’t tough in parts or greasy – which can happen . And Michael the chef is very low key – just a bit of a magician with simple tastes and textures – not trizzy but they really work. Like the old saying goes – you’ll never do anything harder than to make something look easy”. And Michael makes it look easy – by getting everything right!

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