Crispy Roasted Pork Belly (Siu Yuk)
Crispy Roasted Pork Belly (Siu Yuk 烧肉) is a popular Cantonese dish that is mostly served in siu mei establishments. Siu Yuk is enjoy by many people around the world because of its crispy, crunchy skin as well as its juicy, succulent and tender meat. That combination is what make siu yuk one of the ultimate foodgasmic dish ever created in my personal opinion. If you ever bought Siu Yuk from Siu mei establishments, you will notice that the skin is crispy and crunchy but it is not hard to the point where your teeth will fall off.
If you look closely at the skin (epidermis), the skin should be puffy and airy, it should expand during the cooking process. The expansion of the skin is what make the skin crunchy and crispy but not hard. So what makes the skin expands during the cooking process? The answer is Baking Soda and vinegar. The Baking Soda along with a little bit of water seeps down into the punctured skin thus soften or loosen the connective tissue of the epidermis and the dermis. After the skin soften, the introduction of vinegar reacts with Baking Soda which produces CO2, the CO2 will expand the epidermis and dermis. The Sweetened Condensed Milk is there to mask the baking soda and vinegar taste, it also give the skin a subtle hint of sweetness. After that comes the drying process, the drying process is what makes the skin crackly and crunchy. To get that crackly and crunchy texture, the skin must be air dry (dry overnight in the fridge or use a fan to dry it) until there is no moisture present.
Most recipes I have seen, involves the use of salt to make the skin crackly and crispy. That is true to a certain degree, the salt will draw out moisture thus making the skin crackly. The problem here is that the salt will shrink the skin which means the skin cells will be more compacted thus forming a stronger (harder) skin. That is why when you bite into the skin it is hard and crackly which is why I do not recommend this method.
Pork Belly: 2.9 lb or 1320 g
Ginger: 2-3 slices
Green Onion Roots: 2
Salt: 1 tbsp
Sugar: 1/2 tbsp of Sugar
Five Spice Powder: 1 1/2 tsp
Garlic Powder: 1/2 tsp
Ginger Powder: 1/4 tsp
White Pepper: 1/4 tsp
Rose Wine/Rice Wine: 1 tsp (optional)
Baking Soda: 3/4 tsp
Vinegar: 1 tbsp
Sweetened Condensed Milk: 1 1/2 tbsp
Water: 3 cup or 710 ml and just enough to cover the Pork Belly
Ice water: To cool down the Pork Belly
Most restaurants will use this pork belly needle to pierce the skin to create the crispy texture. This is a useful tool but if you do not make Siu Yuk frequently than I do not recommend you getting it. In fact, using metal skewers is another alternatives that works, it will do the same job as the needle but probably it is not easy to use.
On a side note, the last 10-15 mins of cooking. Try to let the skin side face toward the heating elements or better yet move it closer, this will expand the skin due to the release of CO2 that has been trap inside and underneath the skin. Use a broiler if you have that function on your oven. Keep a close eye on Siu Yuk to ensure that it does not burn.