Cooking with Alison

Best Chinese Roast Pork Belly

In Meat and Eggs on April 26, 2010 at pm

This is incredibly easy to make and tastes just like the siu yuk (roast pork belly) that you buy at the Chinese restaurants and grocery stores.  I suggest buying the meat from an Asian grocery store because it is much much cheaper there.  Make sure you buy the boneless pork belly with the skin/rind on.  Pork side also works.  You want to choose a cut of meat that has an even thickness so that the rind cooks evenly, otherwise sections of the skin will burn.  But if this happens you can always scrape the burnt parts off with a knife before serving.  I tested three different methods of making crispy siu yuk.  The simplest method involved brushing oil onto the rind prior to baking; the second method involved brushing the skin with vinegar before drying it out in the fridge; and the third method involved scalding the rind with vinegar and boiling water prior to refrigeration.  From my experience, the rind that had been brushed with vinegar crackled the soonest.  Scalding the rind resulted in a very crunchy, but tough, skin.  I have posted the method that, in my opinion, was the best.

Chinese Roast Pork Belly (Siu Yuk) Recipe

1 kg (approx.) pork belly or pork side, skin on (Note:  Try to get a cut that has an even thickness and ratio of meat to fat throughout.  It is very important to buy the freshest piece that you can find.  Any pieces of skin that look dried or tough will not crisp up after roasting.)

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 1/2 tbsp coarse salt (sea salt)

1/2 tbsp five-spice powder

1/2 tbsp garlic powder

2 tbsp white vinegar or rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Wash pork belly under cool running water.  Pat dry.  Score the surface of the skin well with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern (don’t cut through the surface of the skin).  Rub the soy sauce on the meat side of the pork belly.  Combine 1/2 tbsp of the salt, five-spice powder and garlic powder and rub it into the meat side of the pork.  Brush the vinegar over the skin.  Then rub the remaining salt into the skin side of the pork.  Set the meat side down on a rack over a cookie sheet.  Refrigerate uncovered overnight.

Set the rack so that it is in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Pat dry any moisture that develops on the skin.  Rub the oil into the skin side prior to baking.  Roast for 20 – 30 minutes until the meat is almost cooked through.  Do not overcook.  Turn the oven to broil and continue roasting until the skin is crispy, about 10 to 20 more minutes.  Watch the skin carefully so that it does not burn.  You will be able to hear the sound of the skin crackling.  Expect some smoke.  You can open the door to release some of the smoke every now and then.  As soon as the entire rind has crackled, remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes.  Using a knife, scrape off any burnt parts of the rind.  Cut the pork into pieces using a cleaver and serve warm with rice.

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  1. That sounds really awesome! I prefer it crip rather than braised, although I don’t think I’d ever turn down either dish!

  2. Like you, I looked at a number of recipes in preparation for doing it myself in a few days and wondered what method net the best results. Wonderful to know that you already took the guesswork out of it, and I’ll just follow what you posted. Thanks a million!

  3. Hi Alison…thanks for posting this, can’t wait to try this recipe. I have an oven that doesnt have the Broiling function. Pls advise what other method i should use?

    • Hi Angie,
      Thanks so much for your comment :) I feel bad that I don’t have a good
      answer to your question. Here are some thoughts:
      1. Do you own a blow torch? If you keep the flame low and hold it far
      enough away from the skin, you might be able to crackle the skin that
      way. Keep in mind, you would need to use your blow torch carefully so
      as not to burn the skin before it even started to crackle, because the
      crackling takes a few minutes under the broiler.
      2. Another option for the last step is to turn your oven on to the
      highest temperature and raise the oven rack close to the top heating
      element. The only concern here is that the high temperature would
      overcook the meat and dry it out. So maybe you could wrap the meat in
      tin foil and only expose the skin before raising the oven rack? I would
      also reduce the initial cooking time if using this method.
      3. Finally, do you have a toaster oven? Some counter top toaster ovens
      have broiler functions. I think this would work best.
      I wish I had a better suggestion for you. Let me know if you figure
      something out! Good luck and I would love to hear about how it works for
      you!

  4. agreed! nice way of puttin’ it man

  5. Hi, I cooked the roast the first time. It souned so easy. Followed every step except my oven is the LG SloarDOM. I used the SC 6 for roast pork. It looked only 28 minutes. The meat is cooked throught; however the skin crackling is very tough. It’s hard to cut through by a knief. Any idea about the hard skin? Wonder if you know a way to improve it. The taste is great but I’ll use less salt next time.

  6. I’ve tried again for the second time today. Similar size of meat and longer marinated time (30 hours). Same equipment was used. The skin turned out just as hard as the first one. Could it be the excessive vinegar being rubbed on the skin?

    • Hi Alice,

      I’m so sorry that you found the skin to be tough! I tried three different methods using pieces that had been cut from the same pork belly and found that this method resulted in the least-tough crackling. I have a few thoughts that might explain why your crackling was tough:

      1. I noticed that some areas of the pork rind that I used were tougher and more dried out to begin with. Those pieces resulted in very tough cooked skin no matter what technique was used. Is it possible that the majority of your pork rind was too tough/dry to begin with? I had my butcher bring it in fresh from a local farm. Who was your supplier? Also, certain sections of the pig’s underside may be better than others. I’m not sure which sections are actually better but I note that my cut of meat had nipples on it that I had to remove.

      2. I wonder if maybe your skin wasn’t scored deeply enough or not as extensively? I apologize for not making the instructions more clear on this step. I noticed that more scoring resulted in crispier skin, so I scored my rind a lot more than other people recommend. When you were scoring the skin, did you notice that it was very hard to actually pierce the skin? If so, then the rind was likely too tough/dry as mentioned above. When I was doing this, I noticed that some sections (usually around the other edges) were like this and those areas were almost too tough to eat.

      3. I don’t know anything about ovens, but I suspect that the oven temperature may have had something to do with it. It sounds like you didn’t finish the rind with the broiler function even though you had the same cooking time that I had. When experimenting with techniques, I noticed that the texture of the crackling was affected by the temperature and by the time it took for the skin to crackle. To clarify:
      – If the skin started to darken and crisp too soon during the cooking process, then my rind became unpleasantly tough in the end. Perhaps your oven temperature was too hot to begin with and perhaps your skin started crisping up too soon?
      – Ideally, you don’t want the skin to start crisping up until the very end under the broiler. So the meat will be cooked through and then at the last minute or two, the skin will suddenly start puffing up into crispy balls of crackling instantaneously. This resulted in a delicious crispy rind that wasn’t tough.

      I really hope that was helpful! Once again, I’m sorry that it didn’t work well for you. Thank you for commenting and letting me know!

      • Thanks Alison for your prompt and thorough reply.

        Reply 1: I got the meat from a local butcher. The belly has a nipple on it. I cut it out prior to marinating. The skin is quite tough to begin with. Wonder chich part of the belly has softer skin…

        Reply 2: I didn’t scored the skin deep enough the first time. The second time, I made sure the skin was scored deep enough to expose fatty tissue (white bit hanging).

        Reply 3: Hot oven might be the answer to the tough skin. SolarDom uses two types of energy (microwave + convention) to cook the meat. The dual energy quicken the cooking time, yet may not be suitable for roast pork. I will try to use only the conventional heat method.

        Crackling didn’t happen at once. It gradually started and there was no smoke coming out. I collected a big cup of grease (lard) at the second attempt. Wonder if the temperature was right to take the grease but too high to roast pork.

        Hope I will have softer and crisper roast pork.

        Thanks.

        • Hi Alice,

          Sounds like it was the tough skin and the oven. It’s important to have the Very high heat at the very end so that the skin doesn’t crisp until the very end and so that the skin crisps Very quickly. If you try this again, I hope you have more luck!!! Let me know! And thank you again for your comment!

          Alison

        • Also, I scored the rind a LOT with diamond patterns very close to each other. Hopefully that will help if you get another piece that has tough and dry skin.

  7. I love this way of cooking pork, it’s absolutely delicious. Thank you for the recipe! :D

  8. Hi Alison, I tried your recipe last night. It turned out perfectly well, including the crispy skin! Tasted just like what I buy in Chinatown. I was so proud I took photos, lol.

    Your instructions were clear and precise. I think the key is in keeping an eye on things, as you mentioned. I’ll definitely make this again in the future.

    Many thanks!

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