This recipe is a work in progress, I believe most foodies are in pursuit of the perfect version of a dish. In this case, it’s trying to get the perfect cracking to what the Cantonese call siu yuk, literally translated as roasted pork.
Crunchy crackling on top, and succulent tender pork on the bottom, this elusive dish has been sending people hunting Chinatowns across the globe for generations, in search of the perfect Southern Chinese delicacy.
My mother could always make perfect siu yuk, making it look so effortless, unfortunately from what I could tell, she based alot of her measurements on experience, look and smell, something I’ve yet to master.
My approach was with a little research and inspiration from other culinary heroes (thank you Raymond Blanc for the salt skin method of roasting), I’ve tried a more emperical method to getting that delicious duality from our little piggy friend.
Let the belly rest
750 grams of pork belly
Chinese 5 spice
Salt… lot’s of it
Rice wine vinegar
Mmmm… pork belly
– The first thing we need to do, is to blanch the skin of the pig in boiling water. What this will do, is cause the skin to tighten, keeping it more taught and reducing the amount of liquid the skin will retain, this is very important as moisture is the enemy to making decent crackling.
– Boil some water and pour enough water to fill approximately 2 cm’s worth of the dish.
– Place our piggy friends belly skin side down into the water bath and let him sit in his temporary day spa treatment for approximately 20 minutes.
Another day spa session
– When this is up, pour out the water and pat down the pork belly with paper towels.
– Start pricking the skin with as many holes as you can be bothered making. What this will do, is with the skin taught from the water path, allow the skin to open up more in the oven, releasing that fatty goodness from Mr Piggy, allowing the skin to help render lovely little bubbles in the skin.
Feel free to go all Norman Bates on that pork belly, the more holes the merrier.
– Cover and pat down with more paper towels on the skin, soaking up again as much moisture as it can.
– While you let that happen, mix into a small bowl a little salt, Chinese 5 spice and white pepper which we’ll use as our dry rub.
The alchemy of roastpork rub downs.
– Massage this into the meaty portion of the pork belly only.
– Wrap a little kitchen foil around the marinated meat section and flip back, skin side up, this will trap some of the moisture into the meat while you cook it, so the skin stays dry but the meat moist.
Shiney wrapper for our little friend
– Massage additional salt onto the skin, to absorb more moisture and place in the fridge, allowing the dry rub to marinate into the meat until you’re ready to roast it.
Holy hardened arteries Batman, that’s alot of salt!
– Once you’re ready to roast the pork, preheat the oven to 250 degrees C, placing the meaty morsel on a rack to allow the air to circulate around the pork, which itself is placed on top of a roasting pan.
– Allow the the pork to roast in the oven for 20 minutes, before dropping the temperature down to 200 degrees Celsius for another 10 minutes.
– Once the time is up, take the pork out and turn the oven up again to 250 degrees, while you scrap off all the excess salt off the skin.
– Next baste the pork with a coating of rice wine vinegar, this will add a bit more flavour to the pork, while helping to blister the skin, before placing back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes
Salt and vinegar crackling
– Now you can sit back and relax as you watch the crackling form.
– When it looks ready, take it out of the oven, allow it to cool slightly for 10 minutes, before scrapping the crackling to unveil, delicious crackling with moist pork.
Let the belly rest
– Cut into pieces, to theoretically share.
Slices of Siu Yuk goodness