Micky’s marvellous marinated pork

Nothing makes my good friend Michael Gordon happier than a dirty apron, a wok, a bench loaded with spices, and a large crowd anticipating a good feed from the Orient. Micky once did a Chinese cooking course which had the unexpected side-effect of turning his intimate dinner parties into banquets for twenty to thirty people. This is the Great Hall syndrome of Chinese cooking.

And so it was that we fronted a Gordon dinner party and couldn’t find a park within 200 metres. The house was stacked when we arrived but Michael was remarkably cool as he bent before the oven and pulled out a steaming hot, brilliantly red slab of meat.

‘What’s that?’ I said, full of doubt.

‘That,’ said a friend more used than I to Micky’s grand style of catering, ‘is Micky’s world famous Chinese pork fillet.’

The chef himself sliced vigorously. The pork was perfectly pink throughout.

‘Want to try some?’ he said, a little nervously.

It was magnificent. I tried another and another. I dipped it into the fiery chilli sauce which accompanied it. It was, and still is, magnificent.

This is enough for 10 fillets

½ cup soy sauce

½ cup sherry

180g Hoi Sin sauce

3 garlic cloves, chopped roughly

cup water

3 pieces of ginger, chopped thickly

3 dessertspoons five spice powder (a combination of star anise, fennel, cinnamon, cloves and Szechuan pepper)

30g brown sugar

¼ cup sesame paste (tahini)

¾ cup olive oil

½–1 pork fillet per person — Remove the sinew and any extra fat from the fillets.


Combine all ingredients and beat loosely until it all comes together. Cover the pork, working the marinade into the fillets with your fingers. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator. You can leave them longer, but the longer the marinade works, the more intrusive its flavour becomes. We are not attempting to create a slab of meat which tastes like a marinade: the marinade is to tenderise the pork and to bring out its flavour. (If you do leave the pork in the marinade too long, it will need little cooking, and is best served cold, thinly sliced, as a sandwich filling.)


Remove the pork fillets from the marinade, and leave at room temperature for about an hour before cooking.


Heat the oven to its maximum and roast the pork. It will take 10–15 minutes, depending on its thickness. When you think it is done, take it from the oven and slice a fillet half through. It should be warm to touch and pink in the middle. If you think it is right, feel it with your fingers and get to know the ‘cooked feeling’.


Allow the pork to rest in a warm spot, perhaps the open door of your oven. The retained heat will maintain the cooking process for several minutes.


Serve as simply as that, or with a fiery chilli sauce; or tossed in a little olive oil, garlic, bacon, and whatever vegetables you have; or tossed through a salad of old-fashioned vegetables in a thick garlic-flavoured dressing.

The richness of the pork is set off very well by the slightly acidic garlic dressing and the slightly sweet marinade. If you think it needs more sweetness, Michael’s original recipe calls for the pork to be brushed with honey when cooked. If you are serving the pork cold, and perhaps on a buffet, you can really have people gasping by dressing it with some red food colouring as the Chinese like to do. I can’t be bothered. You may also want to try an excellent chilli sauce with the pork.