February 13, 2005

Roast Crispy Pork 

Crispy pork is one of my favourite Chinese dishes, and I just tried to cook it at home: it was very good for the first attempt, and now I am so proud of my culinary accomplishment that I want to share it with my readers.


1 piece of pork belly (about 1 kg, with uncut skin)
Chinese Five Spices

First of all, place the belly, skin side up, on a chopboard and pierce a number of holes in the skin using a sharp and pointed knife. It's not so dull as it may seem; just think of the knife game scene in Aliens... or imagine that you are poking holes in your worst enemy, not an innocent piece of meat. Then mix 1 tablespoon of fine sea salt, 1 tbsp of freshly ground black pepper and 1 tbsp of Five Spices in a cup (you can use also mixed peppercorns, or rock salt... you get the idea); turn the belly meat side up, spread the seasoning evenly on the meat and massage it, pushing the seasoning into all the eventual cuts and cavities. Possibly, treat also the sides of the piece in the same fashion. Finally, place the seasoned belly in a plate, again skin side up, and massage the skin with a little salt. Put the whole thing covered in the fridge and leave there overnight so that the flavours of the spices will infuse into the meat.

To roast, preheat the oven to 220 C, then place a roasting stand in an oven pan and add water up to 1 - 2 cm below the stand level: during the cooking, this water will let off steam keeping the meat soft and juicy, and it will prevent the dripping juices from charring and sticking to the pan. Put the belly piece on the stand, meat side down, place in the oven and roast it without turning. I cooked mine for 35 min, but it was still rare in places. So allow 45 min to have it well-done throughout. At the end of this time, check the skin: if it's golden and sort of bubbly and crispy, it's done. But probably you will have to turn on the grill to full power and grill the piece for a short time - keep the situation under watch, because at this stage it's easy to char the skin.
When the meat is done, take it out of the oven, let it stand for a few minutes and then place on a chopboard and carve as you like - thin slices or more substantial chunks.

In the true Chinese style, crispy pork is served with plain rice and eventually stir-fried vegetables: enjoy!


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