Savory Cantonese Crispy Roast Pork Belly Delight

To the uninitiated, the Cantonese crispy roast pork belly might seem like just another dish, but those in the know recognize it as siu yuk, a highlight of many Chinatown restaurant displays. My younger self cherished its taste, equating it with comfort, even though I wasn’t versed in its exquisite preparation back then.

Thankfully, with guidance and collective wisdom from my parents, I managed to master it. Believe me, it’s not as daunting as it sounds. But let’s not unveil all the secrets here; dive in to uncover the simplicity behind this cherished dish.

Note: We opted for a pork belly with ribs, aiming to retain moisture. However, you can choose to eliminate the ribs for even cooking—either way, you’re in for a treat.

Can you believe the entire dish is crafted from such a straightforward ingredient list? Indeed, simplicity often yields the most authentic flavors.

Essential Ingredients:

  • 3 lb slab of pork belly
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coarse sea salt

Step-by-Step Delightful Process:

  1. Clean the pork belly and ensure it’s dry. With the skin facing down, apply Shaoxing wine to the meat. A blend of salt, sugar, white pepper, and five-spice powder comes next. Spread it generously, and then let the skin face upwards.
  2. Here’s a fun part! Grab a sharp metal skewer and start poking the skin—this technique guarantees that irresistible crispiness. Once done, let the pork breathe in the refrigerator for about 12-24 hours, uncovered.
  3. Heat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Lay a piece of sturdy aluminum foil on a baking tray and cradle the pork within, fashioning a 1-inch border all around.
  4. A gentle brush of rice wine vinegar on the skin preps it for the next step. The sea salt comes into play now, enveloping the pork skin uniformly. Pop it into the oven for a roasting session of about 1 hour and 30 minutes. If the ribs are still clinging on, give it an extra 15 minutes.
  5. Post roasting, initiate the broiler on a low setting. The top salt layer needs to be brushed away, and the pork is then ready for a crispy broil. Monitor closely to achieve that perfect golden hue without charring.
  6. Once crisped to perfection, let it sit for around 15 minutes. The final act: slicing and savoring!

Cantonese Culinary Heritage:

The passion for food runs deep in Cantonese culture, with each dish telling a story of its heritage, traditions, and the love of its creators. This crispy pork belly is no exception; every bite offers a glimpse into generations of culinary expertise.

A properly crafted siu yuk is not just a dish, but a testament to the dedication of the cook. With layers of flavors and textures, from the crispy skin to the tender meat beneath, it’s a symphony of sensations that dances on the palate.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re more than ready to embark on your culinary journey. And remember, every masterpiece starts with a single step. So, put on that apron, and let’s make some memories in the kitchen!

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