It seems that there are endless recipes and methods on making a crispy roast pork belly, both Asian and Western. There seems to be a fascination with pork crackling. It is like the creme de la creme of roast pork. The crispy skin of the roasted pork belly is complemented well with layers of succulent fats rendered to perfection, alternating with juicy tender lean meat.
Whilst all crispy roast pork bellies are created crispy and crunchy, I do prefer the Chinese-style roast pork belly. It has not only a crunch but a brittle texture as well that is easy to the bite. Siu yuk, as it is more fondly known, has been a Southern China delicacy for ages. Unlike the western style that scores the skin, the Chinese crispy roast pork belly requires you to labourously prick the skin until the skin is completely punctured with holes. This step is of utmost importance and there is no short cut if you want that brittle skin. It also requires skills as you have to poke it deep enough to loosen the skin but not into the layers of meat. Once you touch the meat, juices would flow into the skin when cooking, preventing the skin from getting crispy. To get to that level of brittleness, use a smaller needle. There is this pork skin pricking tool that seems to be invented specifically to make pricking fast and fine. It makes life a whole lot easier.
Coming back to my crispy roast pork belly, I did not have this the pork skin pricking tool when I made this. I used barbecue skewers as replacement and the skin turned rougher than I want (but still very crispy). I used the salt crust method in cooking my pork belly. It worked beautifully to give me that crispy and crunchy skin. Not my best work per se, but my family does love it and it is all that counts.
Crispy Roasted Pork Belly (Siu Yuk) 脆皮烧肉Ingredients
800 g pork belly
1 tsp vinegar
enough coarse salt to make a crust
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cube nam yue (red fermented beancurd)
2 tsp five spice powder
1. Rinse pork belly and remove all impurities and hair. Blanch belly in boiling water for 2 minutes on both sides. Strain and pat-dry pork with kitchen towel.
2. Poke as many holes on the skin as possible (recommended to use a pork skin pricking tool).
3. Turn pork skin side down. Make slits across the grain to the pork. This would prevent your pork from curling and the skin to crisp evenly when cooking. It is also recommended (but not necessary) that you skewer the pork along the sides to prevent curling.
4. Apply your marinade evenly on the slits, top and sides of the meat. Do not rub on the skin.
5. Turn slab over and pat dry the skin. Put belly into the fridge overnight for the skin to dry out. You could also air-dry your meat in front of a fan if you are in a hurry.
6. Preheat oven to 200C. Rub salt on the skin making sure that the salt goes into the holes as well. Use aluminium foil to wrap around the belly. Apply salt evenly onto the skin.
7. Put into the oven and cook for 30 - 35 minutes (cooking time depends on how thick the slab of pork is).
8. Remove pork from the oven and scrape off the salt which has now formed a crust. Increase your oven temperature to 250C. Apply a thin layer of vinegar on the pork skin and put pork back into the oven. Cook for another 15 minutes or until skin becomes bubbly and crispy. It is ok if the skin gets a little charred. Just scrape off the blackened area with your knife. Cut into bite-size pieces and serve with your choice of sauce.
If your skin doesn't get crispy, do not panic. Just leave it longer in the hot oven. It will get there although the meat might be a tad drier.
Also check out my Asian Style roast chicken here: