Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Belly Pork Roast/Siew Yoke - Step-By-Step

I have been getting too many questions as to why the cracklings are not so crackling although they follow my recipe to the 'T".  So, i have decided to create this Step-By-Step and hope that the cracklings will crackle like it should. 

There are many factors to achieve a good 'Siew Yoke/Roasted Pork Belly".  First is to get a good piece of belly pork.  Choose one that is 2 inches in height which is quite difficult as the Asian stores here tend to leave a lot of meat to the ribs thus leaving a very thin piece of belly pork.  Secondly, choose a piece which is level in height,  an uneven level piece will have to be adjusted with aluminium foil so that the skin will be level while broiling/grilling. As suggested in my previous recipes Roast Belly Pork , Roast Belly Pork II and Roast Belly Pork III, the marinated piece of belly pork would like a vacation in the fridge, uncovered, overnight to dry out the skin.  This process will allow shorter crackling time.  I have now become lazy and found that i can achieve good crackling without drying.  So, you can omit the vacation process. 

An important tip:  When you scald the meat, make sure that the water is boiling hot when you put to meat to cook.  This is to remove scum and the piggy smell.  If the meat is thick, you can par-cook the meat by boiling it longer and this will ensure that the meat will cook through when the crackling is done.

The oven used for broiling/grilling has to be considered.  Here i have chosen the wall unit oven of which most of you will have in your kitchen, but, i have used the grill function on my Microwave oven and the Turbo Oven and made pretty good Siew Yoke.  If you are using the Turbo Oven, use the lower rack so that the meat is furthest away from the fan and half way through the grilling, put a piece of aluminium foil under the meat so that the meat will not cook further and dry out.

I hope i have covered all the tips and now get started to crackle...............

In a large skillet, bring water, salt and vinegar,  to the boil, then add in the belly pork skin side down first(apologies - forgot to take picture of the skin side  cooking , so picture was taken after i have scored the meat )

Turn belly pork over and cook the meat side

Remove belly pork and place meat side on to kitchen towel, using kitchen towel, press all over the skin 

Press all over the skin to remove as much moisture as possible

Sprinkle generously with salt

Rub the salt on to the surface of skin and leave aside

Using kitchen towel, dab and press onto skin, as salt will draw out more moisture from skin

Turn over to the meat side and score the meat, by scoring, the marinate is more effective

Cut a few slits on the edges of meat, this will avoid the meat from curling when grilling

Cut slits on the edges  of the other end of meat

After scoring the meat, turn over and now score the skin with a very sharp knife.  Score as finely as possible but do not cut through, score only the skin. Score like you would score squid/sotong.

Scored skin

Prepare the marinate:  sugar, salt, pepper, 5 spice powder, garlic powder, onion powder, soya sauce and cooking wine

Use a pastry brush to brush marinate over the meat

Turn marinated meat over and place onto to cake rack which is place on to baking sheet which has been covered with aluminium foil.  Rub generously with vinegar over the skin

Put to broil/grill on low heat, on the lower third rung of oven. Broil/grill for at least 45 minutes until the skin crackles.  Check on meat every 15 minutes, if certain spot on skin is not crackling so well , adjust..............

.............use aluminium foil under the meat at the spot where the crackling is not so well done and continue to broil/grill.  If you find that there is oil collected on certain parts of the cracklings, use kitchen towel to dab away the oil,  this will allow to crackle better and not cooking in oil. 

When the crackling is satisfactory to your liking, sprinkle salt over the crackling and put back to broil for 5 minutes.

The salt will further dry the crackling.  Certain areas of the cracklings will be charred more,  this is inevitable and this shows that the cracklings are thoroughly crackled.  The over charred cracklings can be scraped away.  Turn meat side over and broil/grill for 5 or 10 minutes if you like it to be most roasted. (i like mine still moist and not charred)

Allow roasted belly pork to cool before chopping up into bite sizes and enjoy.

Meat is still luscious and moist


Fern Ng (Angie Khoo) said...


You are such a great and generous chef who shares very tips and ideas! And now everyone can enjoy his/her own piece of crispy Siew Yoke. Yummy.......

Thanks a lot!

Dinner with Jack said...

Looks amazing Lily, can't wait to try it for myself!!

Emma said...

Hi Lily,

Do I out the marinate on the skin too?

Wendy said...

I can't find any thick pork belly, only thin ones. How thick is yours before cooking? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right. I cannot find thick ones in Chinese market. How thick do you think yours is?

Unknown said...

anonymous and wendy

the thickess is about 1 1/2 inches and the thicker they are they tend to be of more fat.

Unknown said...


the marinate is only for the meat. the skin just salt and vinegar

Anonymous said...

my house had gas stove and gas oven so i just set it to broil setting too?

Unknown said...


yes, broil is the way to go

Misspressy said...

I tried your recipe but I did not parboil it. After salting the skin, scoring and marinating the meat side with salt, five spice and pepper, I did not use sugar and soysauce because sugar burns and soysauce darkens the roast, I treated the scored skin further with white vinegar and a little of baking soda, rubbed well on the skin, then I put
it in a 350F oven for 1hour and the result was perfect, very crispy skin. I even added scored extra pork skins, treated with salt, vinegar and baking soda which roasted alongside with the pork belly. The result was great, I got extra cracklings, good for parties.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lily for sharing. Roughly, how much will the meat weigh after cooking - about half the original weight? TQ!

Unknown said...


i have never weighed after cooking as usually it can't wait to be served. it does shrink alot but not necessary half.

Mak said...

Do I need to remove the pork belly hair? I bought few times and it has a lot of thick and hard hairs. The hair really spoilt the taste and texture.. I used few methods like plucking and This method:

But there are slow and not working well... please help.

Unknown said...


the belly pork is very clean and i did not have to remove a single hair at all, all i have to do is to scrape the skin to rid of more undesirables.

yes, removing hair from the pig's skin is tedious but it has to be done, passing the skin over the fire helps to remove most but not all but stubborn ones still require a tweezer.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the invaluable tips. I have made siew yoke a few times but your tips made a world of difference to the outcome. Having read the previous comments, I would like to share my experiences:
1. The usual pork belly from the market is between 1 to 1.5 inches thick. Tell your friendly butcher that you want to make Siew yoke and insist on a piece between 1.5 to 2 inches. Thinner than this it gets dry easily. 2 inches of even height is perfect.
2. I have tried par boiling the meat as well as without the par boil. Par boiling helps to keep the shape of the pork belly and the hydrated meat keeps the meat moist. Most importantly it removes the porky taste and smell which will happen if you don't parboil it first.
3. A good piece of pork belly is firm with clean white fat. A good butcher would have used a blow torch to burn the hairs and scrape off any hairs and dirt leaving a smooth clean skin.
4. I use coarse sea salt and place a layer on the skin punctured with hundreds of holes. The salt helps in the crackling as well as seasoning the meat. Having finished the roasting scrape off the sea salt and underneath is a layer of golden colored crackled skin. The layer of coarse salt prevents the skin from being charred.

Unknown said...


thank you for these valuable tips.

wishing you a happy new year

kennycat said...


just use a shaver de cheap type enough,yeah use a blowtorch to burn a bit then the rest use a shaver..i use to help my dad shave all his pork when im in me...

Unknown said...


thanks for this valuable tip

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the steps.

I have make siew yoke a few times but still not successful. Hope this time, I will get a cracking skin.

When you said " if you are using Turbo Oven." Is it Turbo Conversation Oven,what temperature should I use and also bake how long?

In Belly Pork Roast marinate recipe, is it for 1kg weight belly pork?

Unknown said...


yes, the marinate should be enough for 1 kg of belly pork.

the turbo oven is a convection with the fan on the lid of the oven.

use the highest of temperature available in your oven.

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