Take a walk down Chinatown in any part of the world and you’ll very likely see Crispy Roasted Pork Belly hanging in racks alongside Chinese BBQ Pork and Roasted Duck displayed in restaurant windows. This very popular Cantonese dish is often served with rice, but also can be enjoyed by itself (dipped in a little bit of Chinese Style Hot Mustard, of course). The skin on the roasted pork belly is super crispy and crunchy, while the meat is very tender and oh so flavorful.
Crispy Roasted Pork Belly might seem like a complicated dish, but it is really a snap to make. (Scroll to the bottom for the recipe or keep reading for a step-by-step walkthrough)
Here’s how to make it at home!
You’ll need a nice piece of pork belly with the skin on. A two and a half pound piece will serve 8 – 10 people. Rinse it well, pat it dry, then clean the skin by scraping the surface with a small knife.
Boil some water in a wok or in a large shallow frying pan. Your pan will need to be large enough to fit the entire pork belly piece. When the water reaches a rolling boil, slowly lower the pork belly (skin side down) into the water, then remove it after about 10 seconds.
I used a Steaming Rack turned upside-down to easily handle the pork belly in the water. If you don’t have a Steaming Rack, you can also use a pair of forks (stick one in each side of the pork belly), or a strong, sturdy spatula. Scalding the skin like this will make it easier for Step 2…
The secret to crispy crackling skin
Here’s the secret to the super crispy crackling skin. Lots and lots of tiny holes. Use a sharp knife with a very pointed edge and just start poking the ENTIRE surface of the skin. Poke as many holes as you can; the more the better. Yes, it’s tedious but your hard work will pay off! Poke just enough to puncture the skin, but not the meat.
If you’ll be making a lot of Crispy Roasted Pork Belly, you may wish to consider purchasing a special tool made just for this: the Pork Belly Skin Hole Hammer (pictured below). You can order one from Amazon by clicking HERE, or you may try your local Asian supermarket. This handy gadget will save you a lot of time an effort.
Prepare the marinade in a small bowl: 3/4 teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice powder, 1 tablespoon of Chinese rose wine, 1/4 teaspoon of ground white pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, and (optional) 1 cube of Fermented Bean Curd. I’ve included links to purchase the 5 spice powder, rose wine and fermented bean curd through Amazon as I know they can be hard to find at regular grocery stores. However, you should be able to find them at most Asian supermarkets.
Mix all these ingredients well, then rub them on the meat side of the pork belly. Don’t rub it on the skin!
As soon as you’ve applied the marinade, put the pork belly on a plate (meat side down) and let it sit in the fridge for about half an hour. About 10 minutes before you’re ready to start roasting, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then place a wire rack on top of the baking sheet. Place the pork belly on top of the wire rack. This will allow the oil to drip from the meat (and make clean-up a breeze). Before putting it in the oven, rub 1/2 a teaspoon of salt on to the pork skin. Place the pork belly in the oven on the center rack for 40 minutes.
Now, the fun part! We’re gonna watch the skin crisp up and crackle!
First, take the pork belly out of the oven and move the oven rack up closer towards the oven broiler. Put the pork back in, then increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Keep some aluminum foil handy so you can cover any parts that start to burn too quickly.
After just a few moments, you’ll see the pork belly skin start to bubble and crackle. So fun to watch it 🙂 This will take about 10 minutes and during this time, you’ll need to keep a very close eye as it could burn quickly. As soon as all of the skin surface is golden brown, and all bubbly and blistered, it’s time to take it out of the oven.
Let the pork belly rest for about 15 minutes before cutting into small bite-sized pieces. If there are any burnt parts on the skin, simply scrape the charred parts off with a knife.
Serve right away with steamed white rice, or with Chinese Style Hot Mustard (or both!)
Crispy Roasted Pork Belly (Siew Yoke)
- Add water in a wok or a large shallow frying pan to cover about 1 cm of the pork belly when submerged. Bring to rolling boil over high heat.
- Place the pork belly (skin side down) into the water, then remove after about 10 seconds.
- Using a pointed sharp knife or a pork belly skin hole hammer, poke tiny holes on the entire surface of the skin. Lots and lots of holes.
- Mix the marinade in a small bowl: Chinese 5-spice powder, Chinese rose wine, fermented bean curd (optional), ground white pepper, and salt.
- Rub the marinade on the meat side of the pork belly. Do not rub the marinade on the skin.
- Place the pork belly on a plate (meat side down) and let it marinade in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Take the pork belly out of the fridge and rub 1/2 a teaspoon of salt on the skin.
- Line a baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top of the baking sheet, then the pork on the wire rack (skin side up).
- Roast for 40 minutes on the center rack of your oven.
- Take the pork belly out of the oven to move the oven rack closer to the broiler (on the top). Put the pork belly back in the oven, then increase the temperature to 450 degrees F.
- The skin will start to crackle and blister. As soon as the surface of the pork skin is golden brown and all blistery (this should take about 10 minutes), take it out of the oven.
- Let it sit for about 15 minutes before cutting into bite sized pieces.
- Serve with steamed white rice, or with Chinese style hot mustard (or both!)