Roast pork belly is the classic Cantonese recipe that will satisfy even the most critical connoisseur. Chinese roast pork is famous for its crackling skin and aromatic meat.

Chinese roast pork belly is so popular in Asia that chefs specialize in roasting pork in restaurants. However, it is already a daunting task to roast pork on the barbecue pit, not to mention to cook the whole pork belly over an open fire as in the Chinese restaurant.

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Roast pork belly
Chinese roast pork (siu yuk)

Chinese roast pork belly with oven

I want 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, the result is comparable to any roast pork belly from the Chinese restaurant.

The allure of roast crispy 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, leave it in the fridge overnight, and then roast it in the oven to toast. After all, you will be rewarded with the irresistible aroma of the roast pork belly, enjoy the crackling, firecracker-like music as you slice the meat and eat it.

Note: The Chinese roast pork belly is called 烧肉 in Chinese, translated into English as siew yoke, siew yuk, or siu yuk, which means the same thing.

Step-by-step guide- How to make the Cantonese style crispy roast pork

1. Use pork belly to make siu yuk

Choose the right cut of meat

The best part of the pork for making roast pork is the belly.  The pork belly has plenty of fat with layers of lean meat in between, which is ideal for roasting. 

You can request your butcher to cut the pork belly to a square or rectangle for you, making it easier to handle.

Always leave the skin on the pork belly. This skin is the best part of the roast pork, which is crispy and crackling.

Blanch the pork

Bring a pot of shallow water to a boil, which is enough to submerge at least half of the pork belly. Blanch the pork belly in water for 10 minutes, skin side down.

There are two purposes of this step:

  • It softens the skin so that it is easier to prick holes on it in the following step. It is difficult the poke through the skin before blanching.
  • The meat absorbs the water and will not dry out after roasting. 
  • It removes the undesirable meaty smell. 

After blanching, remove the pork and let it cools.  The pork’s skin will shrink slightly after blanching, and the meat may bulge out a little at the side.  You can trim off the uneven sides to make it nice looking.  Keep the trim off parts for other dishes such as stir-frying.

Check the skin whether there are still any hairs.  Scrape the skin with a knife to remove any dirt and remaining hairs.

2. Prick plenty of holes on the skin

Now it comes to the critical part to create crispy skin- prick holes on the skin.

There are s few reasons why you need to prick multiples small hole on the skin:

  • Skin with small holes helps the skin to pop, forming small blisters and become crispy. It helps to let the fat render out onto the skin.
  • After pricking, the air will escape from the holes to prevent the skin from bulging. This step effectively prevents the skin from separating from the meat during roasting, which will detach from the meat when you cut it into small pieces.

Note

  • There is no undesirable consequence of pricking too many holes on the skin. On the contrary, too few holes will not produce crispy skin.  I keep poking the skin with my small fork non-stop for five minutes for the pork I use in the video to give you an idea. (about 800g).
  • The goal is to make holes in the skin but not penetrate the fat down to the first lean layer. Otherwise, the juice will exude from the meat beneath during roasting, drench the skin to become wet and unable to form a crackling layer.

You can prick the holes with a small fork or a meat mallet (those with many sharp needles.)

freshly from oven - siu yuk
Roast pork (siew yoke) with crackling skin

3. Marinade the meat

  • Make a few shallow cuts on the flesh side of the pork. 
  • Rub the marinade into each cut to let it penetrate the interior of the meat. The cuts should be about halfway through the meat.
  • The seasoning ingredients for the Cantonese-style roast pork are salt, sugar, ground white pepper, Chinese five-spice powder, Shaoxing wine, and hoisin sauce.  This combination is not a fixed formula, as you can omit the hoisin sauce if you prefer.
  • Combine the seasoning in a small bowl, then massage it all over the meat, particularly between the cuts.  
  • Keep the skin clean from the marinade, as it can burn quickly during roasting.

4. Keep the skin as dry as possible

The most crucial step to make the skin crispy is to keep it as dry as possible. I use a few techniques to make it very dry.

a. Use vinegar and baking soda

Mix one tablespoons of white vinegar with a half teaspoon of baking soda in a small bowl. Apply a thin layer of the mixture on the skin.

Note: Baking soda helps make the skin crispy by allowing the proteins to break down and promote crisper and more evenly browning. The air (carbon dioxide) that releases reacts with the moisture, forming tiny bubbles that increase the surface area and create crispier skin. The vinegar helps to draw out the water and neutralize the baking soda.

b. Apply some salt

Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt on the skin just before it goes in the oven. It will cause more water leeches out of the skin. 

I used to make the roast pork by placing a thick layer of sea salt on the skin, forming a salt crust that draws out the excess water to make it crispy. However, I cannot reuse the salt, and it is quite wasteful.  I can achieve the same result with less salt with the combination of vinegar and baking soda.

c. Keep the pork in the fridge overnight 

There are two reasons to keep the pork in the fridge for at least 4 hours (better if overnight). There is enough time for the marinade to penetrate the pork’s interior so that it becomes flavorful. Secondly, the surface of the skin is dry enough to produce crispy skin.

Keep the pork uncovered and chill for at least half a day.  Some roast pork belly recipes suggest chilling the pork overnight or even up to two days.  The skin’s surface will become very dry (feel like leather), and the flavor will have enough time to penetrate the inner part of the pork.

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 to make a large batch of siu yuk. 

I remove the pork belly from the refrigerator until it returns to room temperature before putting it into the oven.  Otherwise, the interior of the pork may not fully cooked when the skin has turned crispy. 

5. Roast the pork belly

I do not wrap the pork with aluminum foil which turns out to be equally good. Since I roast it at 150°C/300°F for the first 1.5 hours and only increase the top heat to broil it subsequently, the pork belly is still tender and moist. 

Here are the steps :

  • The next day, remove the pork belly from the refrigerator at least one hour before roasting so that the pork returns to room temperature.
  • Apply half a teaspoon of salt on the skin. Spread it evenly on the surface. You will see plenty of water on the skin due to the condensation at room temperature and salt’s effect to draw more water from the skin.
  • Wipe off the water with a paper towel to keep it dry.
  • When it returns to room temperature, apply a thin layer of oil on the skin. 
  • Roast the pork on a medium rack for 1.5 hours at 150°C/300°F.
  • Now place the pork on the top rack. Change the oven setting to 250°C/480°C, top heat and 150°C/300°F bottom heat for forty minutes (depends on the oven). 
  • You can extend the roasting time until the skin has turned to golden brown with multiple blisters. 

Note: The highest temperature of my small oven is only up to 230°C/445°F.  It is not hot enough to effectively erupt the skin to create a crackling texture.  As a result, I reverse a metal plate and put it on the highest rack to closer the heating element.

Other related recipes to the roast pork belly recipe.

Note: If you like roast pork belly, you will also be interested in trying other related recipes:

Braised pork belly with taro is a favorite home-cooked dish among the Hakka clan. This dish is exceptional. Why? Because the pork belly is served up-ended, Check it out.

Braised pork belly or Dong Po Rou (东坡肉) is an iconic traditional Chinese braised pork belly recipe. The prolonged stewing with wine breaks down the fat to make the braised pork belly flavorsome, succulent and give it the tender “melt-in-the-mouth” texture.

An interesting news

After analyzing more than 1,000 raw foods, researchers ranked the ingredients that provide the best balance of your daily nutritional requirements – and they found a few surprises.

According to a report by BBC published on 29 January 2018, pork fat is a good source of B vitamins and minerals. Pork fat is more unsaturated and healthier than lamb or beef fat.

Rich in oleic acid and monosaturated fat, it is beneficial to our heart, artery, and skin.

Sources: World of Buzz and BBC

Yield: 3 servings

Roast pork recipe- Chinese style (烧肉/ siew yoke)

Roast pork recipe- Chinese style (烧肉/ siew yoke)

This video will show you how to make Chinese roast pork at home. Chinese roast pork is famous for its crackling skin and aromatic meat.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours

Ingredients

Marinade

Others

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of shallow water to a boil. Blanch the pork belly in water for 10 minutes, skin side down. After blanching, remove the pork and let it cools.
  2. Scrape the skin with a knife to remove any dirt and remaining hairs.
  3. Prick multiples small hole on the skin with a small fork.
  4. Make a few shallow cuts on the flesh side of the pork, halfway through the meat.
  5. Mix all the marinade ingredients. Combine the seasoning in a small bowl, then massage it all over the meat, particularly between the cuts.  
  6. Keep the skin clean from the marinade.
  7. Mix one tablespoons of white vinegar with a half teaspoon of baking soda in a small bowl. Apply a thin layer of the mixture on the skin.
  8. Keep the pork in the fridge overnight. 
  9. Remove the pork belly from the refrigerator at least one hour before roasting so that the pork returns to room temperature.
  10. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt on the skin just before it goes in the oven. Wipe off the excess moisture.
  11. Apply a thin layer of oil on the skin. Roast the pork on a medium rack for 1.5 hours at 150°C.
  12. Now place the pork on the top rack. Change the oven setting to 230°C, top heat only for thirty minutes, or until the skin has turned to golden brown with multiple blisters. 

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 789Total Fat: 57gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 35gCholesterol: 210mgSodium: 1766mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 58g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 3/10/2021

Chinese roast pork with rice

    36 replies to "Roast pork recipe(烧肉/ siew yoke)"

    • KP Kwan

      Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment section. I ‘m glad to reply any questions and comments as soon as possible.

      • Peter Au

        Hi, So the final broiling at 480 for 15 mins and 390 for 10 is using the broiler setting or just regular roasting setting? The broiler will only be the top element.
        thank you!

        • KP Kwan

          Hi Peter,
          I only use the top element for the final step.
          KP Kwan

    • Ce

      So delicious ! Crispy crackaling, the meat most juicy and fat just melts in the whole mouthful 🙂 Super easy when following your detailed instructions, very please with the result. Both thumbs up!

      • KP Kwan

        So happy that you make it and enjoy Have a wonderful day.

    • Zach

      I want to make the dim sum dish of bean curd skin around ground pork, mushrooms. And recipes that you could share.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Chef Zach,
        I do not have that recipe right now but will consider it as one of the topics for my future posts.
        Thanks.
        KP Kwan

    • Robin

      Don’t they put Hoisin sauce and oyster sauce on the meat side?

      • KP Kwan

        Dear Robin,

        The recipe is the traditional Cantonese-style roast pork, and therefore Hoisin sauce is not used. There are many versions of roast pork, and the use of Hoisin sauce is something interesting to look into indeed.

        KP Kwan

    • Lim Kian Hin

      Hi Mr Kwan.

      Is Lim again.

      Your Pork Belly is at 700 grams.
      If I use a 1 kg cut.. am I correct to say that the whole recipe marination preparation to cooking time to increase proportionately.

      Sry to take up of your time.

      Thanks n Best Rgds , Sunny Lim.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Sunny,

        Certainly. Just increase the amount of all the ingredients in the recipe proportionately.

        KP Kwan

        • Lim Kian Hin

          Mr Kwan.

          Thanks for your fast reply.

          Since bigger cut heavier.. the duration in the Oven should be increased too.heat temp remain same.

          Please advise. Mr Kwan. Thx.

          Rgds. Sunny Lim

          • KP Kwan

            Hi Sunny,

            You will expect a longer time in the oven. However, each oven behaves differently. The timing in the recipe is only for reference only. I suggest you can decide when to stop roasting in the oven by observing the color of the skin.

            You can read my note on this issue in another post “Complete Guide- How to make the best butter cake (8 simple steps)”. Look at Step 7 “Baking temperatures and the duration.”

            KP Kwan

    • Lim Kian Hin

      Dear Mr Kwan.

      This is a Good Point that you had mentioned. By observation n visual if is still not too ready then needs more time in the Oven.
      I did tried twice on this recipe the results were quite acceptable happy. Am just trying to improve further.
      WI’ll read up further on what you had highlighted.

      Big Thanks Mr Kwan… Cheers.

      • KP Kwan

        You are welcome 🙂

    • […] Roast pork recipe- Chinese style (烧肉) […]

    • […] Roast pork recipe- Chinese style (烧肉) […]

    • […] Roast pork recipe- Chinese style (烧肉) […]

    • […] Roast pork recipe- Chinese style (烧肉) […]

    • […] Roast pork recipe- Chinese style (烧肉) […]

    • […] Roast pork recipe- Chinese style (烧肉) […]

    • franz aliquo

      This is the first time I’ve ever commented on a recipe anywhere…must say this recipe is simply amazing.

      I’m a huge fan of Siu Yuk but, finding a good one in a restaurant isn’t an easy task in NYC. This scratched my itch and totally blew me away. It’s exactly the flavor I dream about when I think of roast pork and SUPER easy to make.

      This is 100% joining my repetoire of dishes and will be made again soon.

      THANK YOU!!!

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Franz,
        Thanks so much for reading my recipe. I hope you will enjoy the siew yok / Chinese roast pork as much as I do.
        KP Kwan

    • paul chin

      i will try it thank you for the share

    • S Ling

      Very intrigued and can’t wait to try this recipe but am a little confused. In the beginning text you wrote baking POWDER and in the recipe itself it mentions baking SODA. I was wondering which is the correct ingredient to use.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi S Ling,
        Thank you for pointing out the inconsistency, which is an error. The correct one is baking soda. I have corrected the text.
        KP Kwan

    • Maxine

      Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I have made this several times and it time it was a success. Looking forward to trying your other recipes!

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Maxine,
        It is my pleasure to share the recipe. I upload new recipes regularly and hope you will try some of them too when free.
        KP Kwan

    • Leo

      Hi Mr Kwan,

      Thanks for sharing this recipe! I also crave siu yuk, and will use your recipe when I can buy some relatively lean pork belly. About the use of sea salt for the skin, will it make the skin too salty? If I don’t use the sea salt, but use just the 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda for the skin, will the skin become crispy enough?

      Regards,
      Leo

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Leo,
        Salt will not make it too salty because it is on the surface only. I think the rough salt can keep the temperature high on the surface and make the skin to become very crispy. This effect is not happening if you apply a layer of fine salt on the surface.
        KP Kwan

        • Leo

          OK. Thanks Mr Kwan 🙂

    • Joni Wong

      Hi Mr Kwan,
      For the initial bake at 250 degree Celsius for 30 mins, we should put the pork at which rack? My oven has 5 rack levels . As for broiling, do we need to move to the lowest rack to avoid burning the skin? Thanks in advance ya.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Joni,
        There are no two similar ovens, so it can be hard to give you an answer. However, I would suggest trying to put on the second rack counting from the top. My reason is you need more heat for the top to get crispy.

    • Joni Wong

      Thanks for your reply. Am trying it again today. The first time I did, I put it on middle (3rd) rack n broil on lowest rack as I have yet to hear from u when started roasting. Let’s see what happens today. Thanks for your easy to folo recipes with precise instructions n explanations.

    • Elaine Leong

      Hi,
      My oven has only the top heating element and with the fan function. It has 3 levels in the oven with Max 220 deg. For this roasted pork recipe , at which level and temp setting should I place the pork for the initial 1.5 hr and also the final stage of the 30 mins.? Shall I use the fan function during roasting? Looking forward to your response. Thanks

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Elaine,
        My biggest problem is to get the skin to erupt with multiple blisters at the final stage. Mine is maxed at 230°C, and I could not make it crackle until I raise the pork close to the top element by putting a plate on the top rack so that the pork was just about 1 inch from the element!
        I suggest you switch on the fan throughout so that the temperature is more even since there is only one heating element. Try to put it on the top rack throughout, and I think it should be fine for the initial low temperature. If you can’t get the crackling after the last 30 minutes, try to roast it longer and find ways to keep the pork close to the heating element to get the maximum heat.
        Good luck, and I hope it works 🙂
        KP Kwan

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