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Crispy roast pork (siu yuk) can be found hanging among roast ducks and slabs of shiny red BBQ pork in the windows of Cantonese BBQ restaurants everywhere. Traditionally, pork is roasted with seasoning in a charcoal furnace and is served as an appetiser* with your choice of dipping sauce. Soy sauce and hoisin sauce are popular but I love it dipped in mustard. Served with a bowl of rice and some Chinese greens, it’s a simple and delicious dinner.
It’s interesting to note that the words “siu yuk” directly translates to roast meat, not roast pork. I guess pork is so ubiquitous in Cantonese cuisine that meat equals pork by default.
While I have made English-style roast pork on many occasions, I’d never considered cooking the Chinese version, even though I’ve eaten siu yuk all my life. Both The Koala and I love siu yuk so I figured it was time to try to make it at home.
I’ve made this recipe a couple of times in the last few weeks, tweaking the recipe a little as I go. I hope you enjoy this as much as we have.
Pork shrinks on cooking and this recipe may sound like a lot of pork, but trust me, you will be happy with the generous quantities!
Crispy Roast Pork Belly
Serves 2 with rice and greens for dinner or 4 as an appetiser*
- 1 piece of boneless free range pork belly 700g to 1kg (about 2lb) and about 40-50mm thick.
- 1 teaspoon 5 spice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sake or Chinese cooking wine (optional)
- 1.5 litres water
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened (optional)
- Coarse sea salt
- Take a large saute pan and half fill with hot water (I used about 1.5 litres). Bring to the boil and add all the seasonings except for the sea salt. Carefully add the pork belly, skin side up. The pork should be completely submerged. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat, drain and discard the cooking liquid and allow pork to dry in a colander. The heat of the pork will aid the drying process.
- Once cool enough to handle, prick the pork skin all over using a bamboo or metal skewer. This will allow the fat to crispy up nicely, similar to the method of scoring English style roast pork. You can also score the skin if you wish (my pork was already scored by the butcher).
- Place pork on a plate and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, remove the pork from the refrigerator and preheat oven to 220°C (430°F).
- Place a layer of foil on a roasting tray (for easy clean up) and add the pork belly, skin side up. If using butter, brush a layer over the pork skin and then generously sprinkle all over with sea salt.
- Roast at 220°C (430°F) for 30 minutes, then turn down to 180°C (355°F) and roast for a further 1 to 1.5 hours (depending on the thickness of your meat).
- Remove pork belly from oven and place onto a chopping board, once cool enough to to cut without burning yourself (when it’s stopped sizzling), cut into bite sized cubes and serve immediately or at room temperature with your choice of sauce. Soy sauce and hoisin sauce are typical, I prefer mustard.
*Please note: appetiser means starter or entrée, which is a small course served before the main course.
- Always score pork skin immediately after blanching. If you score prior to blanching or after refrigerating, the skin will be tough and make your job more difficult.
- When pricking the pork skin, you can tie several skewers together to save time.
- The pork skin must be very dry before roasting. If you don’t have time to refrigerate overnight (which dries out the skin), you may use a hairdryer to dry the skin.
- If you are in a hurry, you can skip step 4 above and move directly to step 5. The flavours won’t be as developed but still very good.
- Oven must be very hot so make sure you pre-heat properly.
- Some people add butter or oil to the skin but I have found it is not necessary. Pork belly is fatty enough. Butter does add a lovely flavour though. I’ve done both so up to you!
- Rub salt into the skin. Plenty of salt. Don’t be shy. You won’t be salting the rest of the meat, so the skin will hold all the seasoning. Don’t worry, it won’t be too salty.
- The pork belly will spit and hiss in the oven so place it on the middle of the oven (not too close to the top elements) and use a roasting tray that is generous in size so that it can spit and hiss onto the foil and not onto your oven.
- The Cook’s Treat: The cook is legally obliged to eat any odd shaped pieces of crispy roast pork prior to plating.
- If your pork belly is thicker than 40mm that I used, please cook for longer.
Recipe updated June 2015.