Sunday, 15 September 2013

Crispy Roast Belly Pork (燒肉)

Yum. Yum yum yum. Just the thought of whole bellies of crispy pork in the window of a Chinese restaurant has me salivating. It took several attempts to get this right, and even now it doesn't always go to plan. For example, today I took the belly pork out of the oven and thought "Hmm. It looks rubbish, and I promised Mum and Dad I'd give half to them. They'll be disappointed." The skin had not bubbled up enough, and I thought it would be rock-hard, but surprisingly, it was not bad.

I ran into the fabulous butcher near work, Edge & Son in New Ferry, 5 minutes before closing time on Friday. Although the shelves had been emptied, I got a lovely belly of Gloucester Old Spot. Thing is though, and I'm not sure if it's the same with supermarket pork belly, there were still many bristles attached - not long, just stubbly. I scraped with a knife, but even after 2 hours with a pair of tweezers (and it was 2am by this stage), still struggled to get rid of them all. Apparently I need a blow torch! Suggestions welcome, anyway. The bristles weren't too noticeable in the finished dish, but I knew they were there.

I saw Larkin from Masterchef do interesting-looking things with a hair dryer to his belly pork, presumably because he only had 3 hours to dry the thing out, and I'm tempted to try this technique sometime - my usual method is just to leave it with a kitchen towel over the skin in the fridge, overnight. I poured a kettle of boiling water over the skin, as this shrinks it and is said to make the skin crispier. However, I wonder whether that's why it was so hard to remove the bristles - next time, will try without. A halogen oven seems to give a better success rate, but you can also roast the belly pork in a normal conventional or fan oven. You can crisp the skin up under a grill after cooking, but keep an eye on it, as it burns quickly.



  • Approx. 1kg pork belly (leave the rind unscored), ribs removed
  • 1 tbsp yellow bean sauce
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • A few pinches of salt



  • Scrape the pork rind with a sharp knife and remove any remaining bristles with a blow torch or a pair of tweezers. Place the belly, skin-side up, onto a chopping board or tray over a sink, and slowly pour a full kettle of boiling water over the skin. You will see the skin shrink and tighten
  • Dry the belly with kitchen towels, turn over, and score the flesh lengthways, making incisions around 0.5cm deep, approx. 3cm apart
  • Place the belly skin-side up. Take a skewer or a small, sharp knife, and stab the rind all over, several times (think Psycho shower scene). You want to have as many small holes as possible in the skin, as these will bubble and crisp when the belly is cooking. Although it isn't advisable to stab through the entire thickness of the belly, it's such a forgiving joint that I am not too careful
  • Prepare the marinade by mixing the yellow bean sauce, five-spice powder, light soy, honey and hoisin sauce in a bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush this generously over the flesh, working it into the incisions. Do not brush over the skin
  • Place the belly, skin-side up, in a tray. Sprinkle with salt and rub into the skin. Place a folded kitchen towel over the skin and leave in the refrigerator overnight to dry out

Pork Belly, Stabbed, Skin Salted, Marinaded and Ready for the Fridge

  • Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees fan. Remove the kitchen towel from the pork belly. Place on a rack on a baking tray and roast for 50-60 minutes - turn down the heat to 180 degrees if the skin looks as if it is burning
  • Remove from the oven and rest for at least 20 minutes. Cut off any burned marinade from the sides of the flesh. place skin-side down on a chopping board, and chop into pieces through the incisions
  • Serve with rice

Don't worry about burned marindade - the flesh will be moist and white underneath

Crispy Roast Belly Pork (燒肉)

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