Chinese Roast Pork (Sio Bak)

I love Sio Bak (not to be confused with Char Siew – the red color barbecued pork). The best part of Sio Bak for me, is of course its super crispy skin. I’ve always thought it’s a complicated process to get the skin crispy like it should be. It wasn’t until I saw this recipe on Delicious Asian Food blog – how simple and easy the cooking method appears to be that I finally decided to give it a try. I had a rather hard time finding pork belly, even in Chinese grocery stores (couldn’t find it in regular grocery stores in my area for sure) and I ended up with a leaner cut of pork than is normally used. The skin itself and the layer of fat under the skin was thinner than usual and I was a little worried that the meat would end up kind of dry because of that. However, it turned out well – the skin itself was crispy and the meat, nice and tender. In fact, I think I prefer this leaner cut because I don’t like the layer of fat under the crispy skin to be too thick.

For this trial, I used:

1¾ pounds pork belly
1 tablespoon table salt
2 to 3 tablespoons coarse salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a small knife, pierce the skin all over. Line a roasting or sheet pan with foil and place a wire rack in it. Rub the meat (not the skin) with the table salt and place it on the wire rack. Cover the top of the skin with the coarse salt. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the coarse salt and continue to bake for 45 minutes or until the meat is cooked and tender. Turn on the broiler and broil the meat (with the oven door slightly open) for 10 to 15 minutes or until the skin is crisp. Allow the meat to cool slightly before slicing.

Note to myself: Next time, I think I will reduce the table salt used to ½ or ¾ tablespoon, and maybe add a little white pepper. I wonder if it’s possible to get a piece of pork belly that is uniformly thick? This will probably help the skin crisp more evenly (which it didn’t this time) rather than having the part that is nearer to the broiler totally burnt before the other lower parts are crisp yet.

Update: Came across a slightly different cooking technique on making this delicious dish in the Happyhomemaker88 blog. May use her method next time. We’ll see what happens.

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