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Pierce the rind side of the pork (a roasting fork is good for this) until the skin is covered with fine holes. Put the joint rind side up on a rack over the sink. Bring a pot of water to the boil and, using a large ladle, pour hot water over the rind side of the pork several times. Set the pork aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is very hot. Add the salt, peppercorns and five-spice and stir-fry for about 30 seconds until hot and well mixed. Remove from the heat, stir in the sugar, then allow to cool slightly. When it is warm enough to handle, rub this mixture on the flesh side of the pork. Leave, flesh side up, on the rack at room temperature for a minimum of 3 hours (overnight is ideal).
To roast Sichuan peppercorns: heat a wok or heavy frying pan to a medium heat. Add the peppercorns (you can cook about 140g/5oz at a time) and stir-fry them for about 5 minutes until they brown slightly and start to smoke. Remove from the heat and let them cool. Grind the peppercorns in a pepper mill or using a mortar and pestle. Seal tightly in a screw-top jar until required. Alternatively, keep the whole roasted peppercorns in a well-sealed container and grind them when required.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/ fan 180C. Turn the pork rind side up on the rack and put the rack over a roasting tin with 2-3cm hot water in the bottom. Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C/gas 4/fan 160C and continue to roast for 2 hours, checking every now and then that your tin is not dry – splash in some hot water from the kettle if it is. Increase the heat to 230C/gas 8/fan 210C for the last 15 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and leave it to rest (about 20 minutes). Serve carved into large cubes.