Crispy Pork (Siu Yuk)

There once was a wee strip of a pork belly. One day, a hungry wombat picked up the pork belly and… ok, you know what, this is not going where I imagined it would.

The husbear (Girlie, I hope you don’t mind – I am so stealing this from you. I LOVE the name) and I picked up some pork belly (i.e.: raw, uncured bacon) for something like $2.69/lb at the Asian Food Market on Colvin. It’s a cheap price, but the suckers are around 70% fat, so they don’t exactly have a lot of meat on them.

I decided to make siu yuk (or siew yuk), that delightfully fatty, crispy, crackly pork dish. I had no clue it was called siu yuk – I usually just call it “the crispy skinned pork” and have whoever I’m with order it in Chinese. Or point. Pointing works, too. If you have never had this, it’s really simple, but really good (like bacon) – it’s the pork belly with the skin on, cooked until the top layer is golden and crackly. The bottom layers of fat and meat stay moist.

I looked at a lot of recipes and just kind of picked ones that looked good out of a had and went with it. Some call for rice wine vinegar brushed on the top to help crisp the skin up and others don’t. I used the vinegar and was worried the skin would taste vinegar-y, but the pictures DID look crispier, and crispy always wins over potentially-soggy.

I think this pork could have cooked a little longer. Then the skin would have bubbled even more and been even crispier! The timing isn’t really vital – there is so much fat in pork belly that there’s no threat of drying it out. But it was about 10 pm, and I could NOT wait any longer for dinner, so out it came.

I grabbed a cleaver and hacked away at it. FYI – it’s a lot easier to hack away when it’s on the side, as opposed to skin side up. I had fun hacking at the meat – I felt like those Chinese butchers in NYC that throw their arms into the chopping when you order it (which was a good sign my pork belly was halfway decent).

It was more than decent. Not to toot my own horn (if I had a horn, I would make sure it played some really annoying song, not just ‘toot toot’), but I am getting fairly decent at whipping up non-sucky dishes. They’re still meat-centric, but oh well. At least it’s not cookies or cake, right?

These porky bits were greasy, artery-clogging bites of heaven. I’m sure 2 people aren’t supposed to eat a ½ lb of the stuff, but we did. If you can’t tell, there’s the top layer of skin, a hearty later of fat, some whiter pork meat, another thinner layer of fat, and a bottom layer of darker pork meat. If I had cooked this longer, more of the fat would have also cooked down. Next time.

My whole apartment smells like pork now, and there’s a cookie sheet FULL of liquid pork fat. I can’t wait to figure out what to do with it. Some of the bottom bits of the pork got crispy as well. Sometimes I just want to eat all the skin, but when both top and bottom are crispy – oh heavenly porky bits, it is good!

Here’s what I did:

Insanely Addictive Crispy Skinned Pork:

Rinse off your pork belly and dry it out as much as possible.

Flip it over so the meat is up and the skin side is down.
Score the meat a bit.

Mix together a dry marinade:
5-spice powder, white sugar, and white pepper.
That’s it. Make it to taste. I only like a hint of 5-spice powder, so I was probably heavier handed on the sugar. The white pepper adds a peppery flavor with a nice zing that I like.

Rub the dry mixture all over the meat. Use as much or as little as you want. For you fellow nerds out there – the 3 exposed sides. Leave the skin alone. If you get some on the skin, just wipe it off with some paper towels.

Flip the meat skin side up and stick it in the fridge, uncovered. Yes, uncovered. You want to dry the skin out as much as possible. I left mine in there for about 2 hours marinating and drying out, and I thought it was good. You could do more or less. As in, 30 minutes to 2 days (although 2 days seems a bit much, given that my piece wasn’t very wide).

Turn the oven on to 400F, put 2 of your oven racks in middle/lower end of oven (or higher end, whichever is closest to your heat source).

Salt the pork skin with 1-2 T kosher salt.

Put pork strip on the top rack, just as is. Then put a cookie sheet or pan underneath it to catch the drippings. We want to really blast this with heat from all sides and have it drain grease – not sit in tons of fat.

Cook for 20 minutes, then prick the skin all over, as much as you can (I used a fondue fork) and then brush the skin with rice wine vinegar.
Put back in the oven and cook 40-60 more minutes. The skin will be crisp and bubbly looking. If some minor sections of the skin are blackened, this is OK – you can scrape it off and the skin will all be insanely crispy.

  1. wow, I can smell the fatty deliciousness of it from here. Do you make some veggies to go w/ it to offset the fat calories? : )

  2. llcwine said:

    looks divine

  3. Sandor said:

    AJ… you are a genius. Also, salmon alert: $7.99/lb for sockeye at the East Greenbush Hannaford!Phairhead: For veggies, I’d layer diced onion and root vegetables in the drippings pan. Or maybe some cabbage leaves to wilt them and use as a wrapper for the pork.

  4. josie said:

    Wow! Those look yummy. I usually just do the basic, salt and pepper at 350 for 1 hr. The fun is in the dipping sauce when eating. Mixture of vinegar, crushed garlic, touch of soy sauce, salt and pepper. You can make it sour or a bit saltier to taste.I do have a suggestion for the fat. Those are the ones that really make good fried rice. It will smell heavenly.

  5. Mr. Dave said:

    Why thank you Albany Jane, nary a week ago I was pestering all of my friends as to where I could procure me some pig belly, now I know. What devilry I will get up to with it is still up in the air.

  6. Grace said:

    a wombat, eh? i liked where that was going. 🙂

  7. Anonymous said:

    That looks awesome. I was meaning to go to Lee’s and get some porgy, but now I might choose pig belly instead…decisions.It took me a while to begin to like siu yuk. The first few times I had it, I was made to dip it this really salty salt mixture that overpowered everything else. A subtle dipping sauce sounds so much better.

  8. phairhead – uh, I had some bean sprouts before hand… heh heh.llcwine – thanks!Sandor – yum, yum!josie – I’ve never had it with a dipping sauce – sounds awesome!!(And now I am so making fried rice with this – great idea!)grace – Hee hee, thanksAnon – ohhh, is it that super salty salt? With the big crystals? Again, I usually just eat these out of the metal container sans dipper, but yummy salt!

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