Known as siu yuk, this roast pork belly is a classic Cantonese dish. Its characteristically crispy skin is often what separates the best siu yuk from the rest, and can be elusive to obtain. This recipe here uses a tried and true salt crust method that my mom swears by. It has never once failed to satisfy her three ravenous kids, plus one ever-hungry husband. —Yi Jun Loh
slab of pork belly
salt, coarse or kosher (for the salt crust)
five spice powder
ground white pepper
(20g) fermented red bean curd, optional, can be substituted for 1 tablespoon of shaoxing/rice wine
Using a small, sharp knife or skewer, poke little holes all over the skin side of the pork belly, around ½ -inch deep, 1-inch apart. This will help the fat render out as it roasts.
Mix the five spice powder, ground white pepper, two teaspoons of salt and fermented bean curd together to form the marinade. Rub the marinade on the meat sides of the pork belly, leaving the skin marinade-free. Then pat the skin dry with a piece of cloth or a paper towel. Keep the pork belly in the refrigerator uncovered for at least a day, or for up to 3 days, to further dry out the skin.
On the day of roasting, take the pork belly out of the fridge an hour before roasting to get it to room temperature. Stick skewers horizontally through the pork belly to help it stay flat during the roasting process. (Two skewers along and two across would be ideal.) Then, pour the kosher salt onto the skin of the pork belly and spread it around, making sure the whole skin is covered evenly in salt.
Preheat your oven to 390F, and place a deep tray with about two cups of boiling water on the bottom of the oven. This serves two purposes - first, it creates steam which helps cook through the meat without causing it to burn too quickly, and second, it helps to catch all that fat drippings from the pork belly and saves you from cleaning up a potentially scorched tray!
Roast the pork belly on a wire rack raised above the tray of water for 40 minutes. Remove the pork belly from the oven immediately, crack the salt crust and remove all the salt from the pork skin. Return the pork belly into the oven.
Turn the oven up to 430F and roast for a further 20-30 minutes until the pork belly skin is completely blistered and crispy. If there are some parts that has yet to puff and crisp up, reduce the heat to 350F and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, careful not to let it burn! Remove the pork belly from the oven and let it cool enough to handle.
Cut the pork belly into ½-inch square pieces. The best way to do this is to flip the pork belly over and start cutting from the meat side down to the skin.
It’s best eaten warm right after roasting. Be prepared for a food coma from all that porky goodness!