Roast pork is the classic Cantonese recipe that will satisfy even the most critical connoisseur. Chinese roast pork is famous for its crackling skin and the aromatic meat.
Chinese roast pork is so popular in Asia that there are chefs specialized in roasting pork in restaurants. However, it is already a daunting task to roast pork on the barbecues pit, not to mention to cook the whole pig over an open fire as in the Chinese restaurant.
Chinese roast pork with oven
I would like to introduce a much simpler way to do it with just the oven. It is hassle free and easy to replicate. Although oven-baked is not the method used in restaurants, it just needs a few easy steps. The result is comparable to any roast pork belly from the Chinese restaurant.
The allure of roast pork belly lies in its simplicity. You only need several ingredients and follow a few steps, and the result is almost guaranteed and fail-proof. The crackling sound of biting into the crispy skin fresh from the oven is sufficient to make you drool nonstop.
The oven will do the bulk of the work. And best of all, most of the work is passive cooking. You can marinate the pork and leave it in the fridge overnight, then roast it in the oven tp toast. After all, you will be rewarded with the irresistible aroma of the roast pork, enjoy the crackling, firecracker like music as you slice the meat and eat it.
Watch this video (2.42 min)
Chinese roast pork recipe
Note: There are many small steps in the instruction section. However, each one is relatively quick and easy to accomplish.
- 1 piece (about 700g) of pork belly
- 20g of spring onion
- 30g sliced ginger
- 2 teaspoons (10g) of table salt
- 1 teaspoon of five spices powder
- 1 teaspoon of white pepper powder
- ½ tablespoon (7g) of sugar
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) of light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon (30ml) of rice wine
- 1 teaspoon (5g) of table salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 200g of coarse sea salt
- Wash the pork belly. Place the pork, ginger and spring onion in a pot. Add enough cold water to just cover the pork. Heat it up over medium heat and boil until the color of the meat starts to change. At this stage, there will be no blood oozing out when the meat is pressed with a pair of chopsticks. At this stage, the meat is about 70% cook. It takes 10 to 15 minutes.
- Pat dry the pork with a kitchen towel.
- Scrape the skin with the knife to remove the impurities and hairs.
- Use a fork, bamboo stick or the tip of a sharp knife to prick holes on the skin.
- Rub ingredients in C on the skin.
- Make a few shallow cuts on the flesh side in a crosshatch pattern.
- Rub ingredients B into the meat and the sides of the pork. A simple marinade is sufficient to let the flavor of the pork stands out. Use light soy sauce always. Dark soy sauce is not suitable.
- Leave the pork in the fridge and let it sits for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove it and discard the remaining marinade.
- Prick more holes on the skin if necessary.
- Place the pork skin side up on a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the sides but leave the skin side exposed.
- Cover the entire skin surface with sea salt.
- Bake it at 250°C (480°F) for 30 minutes.
- Remove the salt crust on the surface. Broil for another 15 minutes at 250°C (480°F) without the sea salt and then 10 minutes at 200°C (390°F) until the skin is puffy and crispy. You can hear the crackling sound!
- Let the pork rest for five minutes. Carve it into bite-size pieces, arrange on a platter. Serve.
Important notes to prepare an excellent Chinese roast pork
(Do not skip this section before attempting the recipe)
Blanching and pricking holes
- Always purchase the pork belly with the skin on. This skin is the best part or the pork, which is crispy and crackling.
- The purpose to cook the pork belly in water for 10 to 15 minutes is two folds. First, the pork will absorb the water and become moist and tender after roasting. Secondly, it removes the undesirable meaty smell. Prolonged cooking will shrink and distort the shape of the pork.
- There is no undesirable consequence of pricking too many holes on the skin. In contrary, too few holes will not produce crispy skin.
- Prick shallow holes. Do not penetrate the fatty layer.
- The holes must be small to produce crispy skin. You can do this with the tip of bamboo sticks, a small fork or a meat tenderizer (those with many sharp needles).
- Baking powder helps to make the skin crispy. It is slightly alkaline which helps the proteins to break down and promote crisper and more evenly browning. The air (carbon dioxide) that releases when it reacts with the moisture forming tiny bubbles that increase the surface area, and help to form a crispier skin,
- Make a few shallow cuts in the crosshatch pattern on the flesh of the pork. The marinade can penetrate easily into the interior of the meat through the cuts.
- Seasoning B is for the flesh and the sides of the pork. Avoid the seasoning from wetting the skin as wet surface and it will take a longer roasting time to become crispy.
Drying and roasting the pork
- There are two reasons to keep the pork in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight. There is enough time for the marinade to penetrate the interior of the pork that it become flavorful. Secondly, the surface of the skin is dry enough to produce a crispy skin.
- If you prefer the conventional method, dry the pork by hanging it upright with a hook and place it in front of a fan for a few hours. Air dry is the preferred method used by traditional chefs to dry Peking duck.
- The sea salt that covers the skin seals the moisture and gently steams the pork in its juices. It also helps to season if but will not yield pork that is too salty. This method can produce pork that is invariably moist, succulent and bursting with flavor.
- Start baking the pork at a high temperature will make the skin crispy. Reduce the heat later to roast the pork slowly to cook off most of the fat, leaving the soft and tender pork marbled with velvety fat.
- In the first 30 minutes, the aluminum foil protects the sides of the pork from overheating by direct heat. Subsequent roasting without the foil will turn the side to brown. The final stage of broiling is to help making the skin puffy and crispy.
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