Chinese crispy belly pork has often been on the dinner table in my family for many occasions. The pork crackle is always the show piece if done right where family and friends would give an ‘oooo’ and an ‘ahhh’. As a child, I grew up eating this cantonese dish like my friends growing up eating fish fingers or chicken nuggets.
Mum’s crispy crackle would be bubbly and light with that textured layer of creamy, flavoured fat and pork underneath. However, there have also been times where the outcome of the pork crackling has not been up to scratch. My mum’s quick approach was to splash hot oil on top to encourage the bubbling of the skin to near perfection.
Over the years, I have spoken to many friends and family where we debate over dinner about achieving the porcine holy grail . Lemon juice?, Pre salting?, Salt and oil? the scoring depths? Needling? We can go and on.
There are many methods out there on the internet but I strive to keep it simple using less gadgets and straight to the point of delivering a good looking dish. As such, instead of using a taped up bundle of bamboo skewers to pierce the skin, I have gone for the western approach of scoring the skin.
- 3 lb Pork belly with ribs
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
- 2 tbsp coarse sea salt for the skin
The basic requirements for a good crackle is drying out the skin and a good layer of fat. To make the skin dry you have to score the skin 1/2cm apart to allow the heat to penetrate the fat and blister the skin evenly. Too deep and into the meat, you run the high risk of juices getting to the skin and ruining your chances of lovely crispy skin.
The pork belly that I’ve bought has the ribs which will keep the meat moist whilst it’s roasting. As such, I’ve made cuts in the direction of the ribs. Ribs or without, scoring the meat is for allowing the marinade to penetrate.
Place all the ingredients into a bowl and stir before evenly spreading into the cuts.
Turn the meat into an oven dish and rub 2 tbsp of salt into the skin pushing into the scored skin. Place into the fridge for 24hrs to allow the skin to dry out. When you are ready to roast the pork belly, you need to take the pork out of the fridge and leave at room temperature for 1 hr.
Set the oven for 200 degrees (Gas mark 6) for 1 hr. This will start the skin to dry further and begin to blister. After 1 hr, increase the temperature to 230 degrees for a further 30 minutes before removing and cool down.
Before serving carefully remove the ribs and set aside for snacking. Cut the pork belly into strips and lay on its side before cutting into cubes.
Serve with sugar or with hoisin sauce.