Making a great crispy pork dish has been a daunting task for me for quite some time. Each attempt had always been a gamble as I tried many techniques to get the skin crackling successfully. I think I have found the right formula of achieving the perfect crackling effect. This is my second trial using a combination of 2 different techniques, and it turned out great both times. So I am confident now to share the recipe with you. It takes 2 days for this recipe.
1.5-2 kilo piece of pork belly, with skin on
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 big cubes of fermented bean curd
1 tablespoon five spice powder or any other spices you prefer (cumin or coriander, etc)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
The first technique I adopted is from this website http://chubbyhubby.net/recipes/crispy-roast-pork-belly/ . First clean the pork and then poke many holes in the skin using a BBQ skewer.
Then lay the slab of pork on a rack over a big pan and blanch it with about a litre of hot water. The slab is then immediately transferred into a tub of icy cold water to cool. This will shock the skin. After it cools down, pat it dry. At this point, the pork needs to be properly dried, I used the drying technique from this website http://www.gastronomydomine.com/?p=93 where a hairdryer is needed. Yup, a hairdryer ≥ω∂. Blow dry the pork skin together with a table fan (optional) until the skin is thoroughly skin deep dry. Lay a piece of paper napkin over the skin and press down with your hands, if no water soaks the paper, then its ready to be covered and put in the fridge for the second drying process. Leave it in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
Once the pork is completely dried out, take it out of the fridge. Have your marinade ready by mixing and mashing them.
Lay the pork belly skin side up and score the cold skin with a craft knife in lines about half a centimetre apart.
Then turn the pork belly skin side down, use a knife to make lots of small incisions into the flesh, or score it.
Spread the marinade into the flesh and give it a good rub and massage. Treat it with utmost care and don’t let the marinade get on the skin though.
Flip the pork belly back skin side up on the rack and pop it back into the fridge. Let it marinate overnight.
Ah… the final test. I followed the cooking process from Chubby Hubby’s website with a little tweeting.
When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Place the pork on a rack set over a roasting pan that is filled up between a third to half with water.
Brush some rice vinegar and sea salt over the skin before poping the pork in the oven for 20 minutes.
Lower the heat to 180 degrees Celsius and roast for another 40 minutes. Make sure the water does not dry out at all, add more water if necessary. After 40 minutes, take the pork out, turn the heat up to 240 – 250 degrees C. Brush more rice wine vinegar and sea salt over the top of your pork.(Be careful not to over salt the skin as it may become too salty, a sprinkle will do each time) Then pop it back in the oven for 15-20 minutes or so, until the top skin layer has bubbled up and looks all puffy, crispy and actually even a little charred. Please be vigilant at this point that the skin does not get burned, a little charred is fine. When ready, take it out and let it cool on a rack. If charred, use a knife to “brush” off the charred bits. Mine turned out great with the skin really crispy like craters forming on top and the meat was very moist, lightly pink and juicy. I do not want to overcook it as I am using them for the next few days for bento lunches where I need to warm them up again in the oven.
Try my technique and let me know if its equally successful for you. You can change the marinade according to your liking but the drying process is extremely crucial step. Don’t take short cuts or you will be crying over the bad outcome ΠÔΠ