Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Chinese Crackling Pork Belly 脆皮燒肉

This week's recipe is one that has been on my to-cook list for a while now. I've been putting it off because that golden, bubbly layer of pork skin looks so intimidating and I didn't want any meat to go to waste in case I didn't succeed. I'm sure anyone who has been to Taiwan (or more specifically Hong Kong) will not be a stranger to this dish. You can most likely find these crispy slabs of meat hanging over the windows of the 燒臘 (Shāo là) stores all over the city. They can be bought in bento boxes for less than 100 NT, or served in high end restaurants for thousands more... and they will be worth your money either way. Just look at that layer of crackling roasted pork skin! So good, and so worth your time if you decide to make it yourself.

I started off small, with only 400~500 grams of pork belly to kind of test it out. The trick is the keep the skin as dry as possible: poke tons of holes all over the skin and leave it in the fridge (uncovered) overnight to get rid of all the moisture. The salt layer during baking further dehydrates the skin and once you remove it, your pork belly will crisp up nicely in the oven. It's a one day process, but definitely worth the effort. Things I would change next time is to use a thinner cut of meat. As you can see in the picture, the meat I used had a thick fat layer which ended up making my pork belly kind of greasy.  Still tasty though, so I'll definitely revisit this recipe some day or maybe just buy a thick roll of pork skin and roast it as is. Mmmmm, pure collagen, yum!

Chinese Crackling Pork Belly 脆皮燒肉
  • 400g pork belly 
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Generous amount of coarse sea salt (or regular salt is fine)
  1. Rise the pork belly and pat dry with paper towels. 
  2. With a spiked meat tenderizer (or anything sharp and needle-like), stab holes all over the pork skin. The more holes, the better. 
  3. Flip the pork belly skin-side down. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of rice wine and rub it in. 
  4. Next, add the salt, five-spice powder, black pepper and rub it into the meat.
  5. Flip the pork over (skin-side up) and wrap it snugly in aluminum foil, making sure the borders are higher than the meat to prevent the grease from overflowing. Pat the skin dry with paper towels. 
  6. Place the pork, uncovered, in the refridgerator overnight or 12 hours.
  7. When ready to roast, preheat the oven to 375'F or 190'C. 
  8. Remove the pork from the fridge and evenly distribute a thick layer of salt over the skin, making sure not to touch the meat or else your pork will be super duper salty.
  9. Place the pork in the middle rack and roast for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160'F (71'C).
  10. Remove the salt layer carefully and place the pork on the top rack of your oven and broil the skin for 30 minutes. Every oven is different, so check up on your meat regularly so it doesn't burn. 
  11. Once the skin is bubbly and crackling, remove from oven and drain off the excess grease on an elevated stand. 
  12. Slice or cube into desired thickness and serve. 

Chinese Crackling Pork Belly 脆皮燒肉


  1. Doesn't Pork Belly normally have a couple of layers of fat?
    My mom calls it like 5 layered pork belly or something XD so not sure if that's a common name or not for it.

    By the way, I'm glad you're back! I found your Dan Tat (Egg Tart) recipe a good few years ago, when you weren't active and I was so sad when I learned that you were no longer updating your food blog! But I still bookmarked your blog as it had alot of food I ate as a kid that my mom made and would love to try cooking them myself!

    1. Hi Serkunet! yes, we call it "3 layer meat" in Taiwanese! But i think the piece of meat i got was extra fatty, gonna find one a higher meat to fat ratio next time. And thankyou for stopping by again, it's very encouraging to get feedback after such a long hiatus. I'll try to keep it up with more traditional chinese food posts. If you have any requests, feel free to let me know, i would love to try new things out too!