Smoked pork cheek with coconut sauce, finger lime & lychees

Smoked pork cheek with coconut sauce, finger lime & lychees

4 as part of a shared meal
Chris Middleton

I came up with this dish when asked to help prepare a welcome dinner for international guests for the 2012 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. It sums up some of the flavours and techniques I love.


Quantity Ingredient
100ml fish sauce
50g chopped palm sugar
2 large pig’s cheeks, skinned and trimmed, cut into slices 5 mm thick
wood chips, for smoking
30g flaked coconut, toasted
6 lychees, peeled, stoned and quartered
1 finger lime, podded, (see Note)
3 tablespoons picked thai basil
thinly shredded kaffir lime leaves, to garnish
snipped coriander cress, to garnish

Coconut sauce (Tom kha)

Quantity Ingredient
200ml coconut milk
3 thin slices fresh galangal, about 2 cm round
1 whole lemongrass stalk, bruised and chopped
1 garlic clove
1 red asian shallot, sliced
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1/2 lime, juiced


  1. In a saucepan, heat the fish sauce, palm sugar and 300 ml water until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool, then pour into a container large enough to hold the pig’s cheeks. Add the pig’s cheeks to the liquid, then cover and refrigerate for 6 hours.
  2. Heat the wood chips in a smoker or kettle barbecue until they start to smoke. Remove the cheeks from the brine and pat dry. Place on a rack in the smoker or barbecue. Reduce the heat to low, cover and leave to smoke for 2 hours.
  3. Towards the end of smoking time, preheat the oven to 110°C.
  4. Place the smoked cheeks on a baking tray, then transfer to the oven and bake for 6–8 hours, until very soft. Remove and cool in the fridge.
  5. For the coconut sauce

    Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan with 50 ml water. Cook over medium heat for 20–30 minutes, until the sauce is just thick and all the flavours have come together. Strain and cool.
  6. To serve

    Fry the pig’s cheeks in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat until just lightly crisp and warmed through.
  7. Warm the coconut sauce and place on the bottom of a plate. Top with the pig’s cheeks.
  8. Mix the coconut, lychee and lime in a mixing bowl. Tear in the Thai basil, toss together, then sprinkle over the dish. Serve garnished with the shredded lime leaves and coriander cress.


  • Finger lime is an Australian native fruit. The size of a thumb, it is filled with caviar-like segments of intensely fragrant lime flavour that pop in your mouth.
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