With Chinese New Year coming, I have been craving for Siu Yuk (in Cantonese) or Shau Rou (in Mandarin) or commonly known as Roast Pork. This sinfully, delicious, easy-to-make roast pork has been one of my go-to comfort foods whenever I miss home. It’s not just the sound of “roast” on pork but the “crackling” that is enough to make anyone’s mouth water.
When choosing pork belly for this dish, I like a nice layer of fat in the middle – so, when I have that first memorable bite, I would love to chew into the crackling crunch, followed by the soft, juicy fat and tender meat.
Roast pork is commonly eaten with Hainanese chicken rice, duck rice or wonton mee. Normally I would reserve some out and stir fry with chinese broccoli (gai lan) or with spring onion, chillies and garlic which is equally sumptuous.
Contrary to yesteryear’s belief, making roast pork at home is actually super easy – thanks to my beloved oven. I would normally marinade the pork a day before so the skin is dry by the next day and the marinade has seep well into the meat.
Roast Pork (Siu Yuk)
Serves 4 as part of sharing meal
500g uncut pork belly, if possible ask the butcher to make slits on the skin
2 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp five-spice powder (ng hiong fan)
dash of white pepper powder
sugar, to dip
mustard, to dip
1. Wash the pork belly slab and pat dry. Then use tweezers to remove stray hairs on the skin. The belly skin needs to be slit to be able to achieve that crackling so if there are some parts that are not slit, use a kitchen knife to make diagonal slits onto the skin as much as you can. Be careful not to cut into the meat.
2. Combine 1/2 tbsp sea salt with 2 tbsp five-spice powder and a dash of white pepper powder. Turn the pork belly around and begin to rub the marinade all over the meat – ensure that it doesn’t get to the skin. If it does, rub it off.
3. Turn the pork belly around so the skin is facing up now. Rub the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp sea salt onto the skin – making sure that it gets into the slits.
4. Transfer the pork belly to a plate and refrigerate with skin facing upwards uncovered overnight. This is to achieve that enough dryness on the skin to be able to crackle.
5. When ready to roast, remove the pork belly from the fridge and pat the skin lightly to remove all water remnants that seeps out of the skin overnight. Now, in a roasting tray, place a heat-proof ramekin in the centre and fill the tray with some water. Water is used to keep the meat moist. Place the pork belly (skin side up) on a roasting rack and place on top of the ramekin. Be careful not to wet the skin and meat.
6. Roast the pork in a pre-heated oven of 220C for 30 minutes. Place the rack higher but not too close until it gets burned. I normally put it on the 3rd level.
7. At this time, you can see that the skin starts blistering and the crackle starts. Funny as it seems, it sounded like fire cracker in the oven.
8. Remove after first 30 minutes and using a bamboo skewer, poke onto the area where the skin has not blistered yet. Then return the pork to the oven and roast at 180C for another 70-90 minutes. At every 30 minutes interval, ensure the pork is crackling evenly and if it’s not, repeat the bamboo action. Also make sure water level is good.
9. After 70-90 minutes, remove the pork from oven to rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to settle and keeps the meat moist and tender.
10. If the skin has been charred, scrap them away with a butter knife before cutting. Then place the roasted pork with skin side down and slice strip by strip before cutting into smaller pieces.
11. Serve with a small plate of sugar and mustard. It also goes very well with Hainanese chicken rice chilli. Yum!