Nothing beats a good roast pork belly. It’s soft, subtle, flavorful, and yet crispy. To many, its the golden crispy skin that defines between good and excellent. For me, it doesn’t need any condiments to go along with it, but for some, they’d prefer it with either chili sauce or mustard. I’d prefer wrapping this in a steamed fresh bun with hoisin sauce together with spring onions. Of course, you could just have it plain crispy roast pork belly and chased down with a dark beer or two!
To make this dish, its actually quite simple, but it requires patience, as this is done over two days. Firstly, get your butcher to cut a block (and not a strip) of pork belly without the rib bones. Next, clean and pat dry the pork belly. Poke holes all over the skin now as the skin is still soft and pliable. Make sure the holes do not go through the meat. It's just to break the skin. Turn the pork belly over and massage the Shoaxing wine into the meat. Shaoxing wine will tenderise the meat, and retain moisture. Do not do this for the skin side, as it will cause the skin not to crisp up. Mix the rest of the ingredients and massage it on all sides of the pork belly, except for the skin. When you're done, let it rest uncovered in the fridge. Skin side up. This is to further reduce moisture on the skin while marinating the meat.
The next day. Remove the pork belly from the fridge to bring it up to room temperature. The skin is quite tough to work on, but try to poke holes on it again. The more holes you create, the more chance the skin will crisp up. If you can’t penetrate the skin, it’s OK. You can do this later. Preheat the oven to 374F or 190C.
When the pork belly is at room temperature, place it on to a sheet of aluminum foil and create a border around it with a fence about 1 inch higher than the meat. Baste the meat with rice wine vinegar. When heated, the vinegar will further dry out the skin, thus promoting it to crisp. Place the salt on top of the skin, carefully making sure as little of the salt gets on to the sides of the pork belly. This is because the meat will absorb the salt. Now, you’re ready to roast your pork belly!
Roast the pork belly for approximately 50 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and remove the salt crust. Open up the aluminum foil and spread it. Lift up the pork belly and place it on to a grill above the aluminum foil (so that it sits above the pan). Now the skin is very soft and pliable. Poke holes on the skin again. Turn up the oven to 437F or 225C, and place the pork belly on the lowest level of the oven. It will crisp up and blister almost immediately. Remove from the oven (it will continue to cook for at least the next few minutes), and rest the crispy pork belly for at least 30 minutes.
Now the fun part! Cutting it. Invert the pork belly so that it’s skin side down. With a sharp knife, cut through the meat in one direction, and when you get to the skin, press onto it. Don’t saw through the meat as it will disintegrate.
!One Day Before
Rinse the pork belly and pat dry. Poke holes all over the skin.
Place it skin-side down on a tray, and rub the shaoxing wine into the meat (not the skin).
Mix together the salt, sugar, five spice powder, red fermented bean curd and white pepper. Thoroughly rub this spice mixture into the meat as well. Flip the meat over so it’s skin-side up. Let it dry out in the fridge uncovered, for 12-24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375F or 190C. Poke holes over the skin again.
Place a large piece of aluminum foil onto a baking tray, and fold up the sides around the pork snugly. Brush the rice wine vinegar on top of the pork skin. Pack the sea salt in one even layer over the skin, so the pork is completely covered.
Remove pork from oven. Turn up the oven to 225C or 437F, and position the oven rack in the lowest position. Remove the sea salt from the pork belly, unfold the foil, and place a roasting rack on the pan.
Place the pork belly on the rack and put it back in the oven to crisp up. This should take 10-15 minutes.
When the skin has puffed up and gotten crispy, remove from the oven. Let it rest for about 30 minutes and then slice.