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Comments 24

Crispy Roast Pork: Cantonese style


our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to encourage bloggers to try new food related things. Ash from Organic Ash is the host for this month’s event.

If you have a blog and you are eating or cooking something new this month, click below to join. More information here.

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Place pork on a plate and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next day, remove the pork from the refrigerator and preheat oven to 220°C (430°F).
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. 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.


Some tips:

  • 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.


  1. Content Catnip says

    Wow awesome. Almost tempted to stop being vegetarian with this yummy thing 🙂

  2. friend… are the reason why my eyes are getting fat (and probably not only my eyes) I can’t scroll down my blogs feed without seeing a fantastic recipe you upload and drooling over the keyboard

  3. Very impressive! Pork belly seems to be the ingredient of the month, with Audrey over at Rice and Kai smoking her own bacon too!

  4. YC. says

    Just wondering, your recipe says to throw all the seasoning in at the same time you cook the pork belly in boiling water, but will the pork belly have any flavour after it’s roasted? I noticed others marinate overnight.

    • Hello, I found the pork belly still had flavour and the spice visibly covers the meat once cooked. I like my roasted pork to be mildly spiced rather than full marinated in a rich sauce like you might for a braise or stew. Hope that helps!

  5. Yum! I love Chinese roast pork. Love the cook’s treat too! I usually help myself when I’m chopping it up too 😛

  6. Wow it looks so good and “neat”, way better than in the restaurants with the fat sliding all over the place. With the time difference, I”m having breakfast now but would love a piece in my breakfast 😉

  7. Oh my gosh. This looks AMAZING! And I never thought it was so EASY! Adding pork belly to the grocery list now… Thanks, Genie! Looks terrific!

  8. Sarah says

    I boiled and roasted for the amount of time in the directions and I was left with a very under cooked pork belly. I also raised the temperature of my oven to 450 instead of lowering it to 350. and it still was under cooked. I returned to the oven at 350 F for an additional hour.
    It did not puff up at any point. It is crispy but lacks the crunch. It does taste good.
    15 minutes is not enough time to boil a 1.75lb of pork. Did I miss something. If I were cooking it thru I would think it would need at least an hour in the boiling liquid. Then the 40 minutes in the oven might be enough. I went with this recipe as I was intrigued by the boil first method. I will try again in the future. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
    I should also mention I poked the skin verses scoring it.

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for your feedback. Was your pork belly around the same thickness of the belly in my photos? It’s been a while since I made this so I will try it out again and check the timing and temperature for a 2 pound pork belly, 40 minutes with pre-boiling. Comparing this recipe with my other roast pork recipe (4.5 pounds, no pre-boiling, 2 hours roasting) I think the oven should be a bit hotter and depending on the thickness of the pork belly, longer, though an extra hour might be too much. I do remember that the pork skin must be very dry and the oven very hot to begin or it won’t bubble and crisp. The autumn weather here is very conducive for a pork belly. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.

      • Sarah says

        After cooking my pork belly is about 2.5 inches(6.3 cm) thick. It was rather thick to start with too. Which might account for the extra cooking time. Thank you for relying to me.

        • Mine shrunk down to about 1.5 inches or 4cm after cooking so the thickness may change the cooking time. I wonder if pork bellies differ from region to region? I know there are cuts of pork that are popular in other countries that we don’t get here in New Zealand (especially rib cuts) so I’m not surprised if the size/thickness of cuts vary a bit too. I’ll update the thickness of the pork once I test out this recipe again.

  9. Sarah says

    Commercial pork bellies are thinner. I used a natural Pork belly that the bones had been removed but you could still see the meat that was between the bones. I get mine from the local Asian market. Our Supermarkets rarely have pork belly.

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