Friday 26 February 2010

Crispy Chinese Roast Pork Belly (Siew Yoke/Siobak)

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I made this for lunch the other day for the first time after comparing tons of online recipes, and I must say- never have I experienced an atmosphere so electric with anticipation in this house as at the possibility of achieving hawker-standard siew yoke at home.

Thankfully to our collective yelps of delight, the results were just totally, unbelievably perfect! Crisp crunchy golden-orange crackling and succulent just-fatty-enough layers of pork, the entire toppling pile of siew yoke was wiped out between the three of us in no time.

Be warned however- the whole kitchen will smoke up and your entire oven will be covered in oil splatter. It is totally worth it though if you don't mind a bit of cleaning up- the meat truly tastes like it does back home and if Arivind is anything to go by, your nearest and dearest who get to eat it will hail you as God. Funny how much street cred crackling can get you :)

Crispy Chinese Roast Pork Belly (Siew Yoke/Siobak)

Clean 1 kg pork belly and dry thoroughly (I do this by putting the meat skin side down on some kitchen towels after washing).
Stir together the following ingredients to form the marinade:
½ tbsp salt
½ tbsp sugar *optional*
1 large or 2 small cubes nam yue (red fermented/preserved beancurd-available in jars or tins in Asian shops)
½ tbsp five-spice powder
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

Score the flesh part (not the skin) of the pork belly lightly in diagonal lines and rub in the marinade well. Place the joint in a foil-lined roasting tin, marinated side down so it can sit and absorb the flavours.

Score the skin part this time, using a sharp knife and being as thorough as possible. Rub in lots of salt all over, deep into each cut.

Leave the joint uncovered overnight to dry completely. Room temperature is fine in cold climates like London, but you should refrigerate the meat if it's hot where you are.

When ready to cook, lift the joint up and place a flat wire rack underneath to enable fat to drip off into the pan. Pat dry if there is any moisture left on the skin and bake in the middle of a 200C/395 F fan-assisted oven.

After 20 mins, remove and stab the skin all over as much as possible using two forks, one in each hand (I find this much steadier and faster than just using one hand). Drizzle the skin all over with a few tablespoons of rice vinegar.

Return the pan to the oven and switch it to grill/broil setting (upper heat only) at very high heat, about 250C/485 F. You will see the crackling start to bubble and pop wherever you poked with a fork. Grill for a further 30 mins, opening the oven door intermittently to let smoke escape, until the skin gets slightly burnt and charred. Don't worry about the blackened bits- it can be removed easily and is essential to ensure the crackling achieves the correct crispiness.

Once cooked, remove from the oven, scrape off any burnt parts with a serrated knife and leave to rest 15 mins before chopping.

Cheat tip: if any parts of the skin are still soft, just take the joint out of the oven and flip the entire thing upside down onto a large frying pan on the stove, skin side first (you can also cut it into more manageable pieces first if you like). Sear the skin on high heat with no added oil, until everything pops and crisps up. Watch out for oil splutter!

Listen to the satisfying crunch as you cut your siew yoke into chunks.

Save the cleaning up for later and devour with hot steaming rice. Make sure not to leave leftovers- the crackling goes soft when left overnight.



  1. oh my gosh, that looks SOOOO good!!!

  2. As the board matron and co-owner of the SeriousEats website, I feel the need to inform you that there is NOTHING original about your recipe. In fact, I think that you may have stolen it from one of my SERIOUS EATS contributors.

    You may want to consult with your lawyer about the penalties that my attorney may impose upon you.

    Louise Chiffonade Brescia
    Atlanta, Georgia (formerly of Brooklyn, New York City)
    SERIOUS EATS website

    1. Seriously??? Are you for real, or just a real loser???? Do you know anything about basic roasted pork belly? Salt, sugar, five spice, and rice wine, and the directions listed above have been known by millions of people for decades. How dare you come here and be a cyber bully, threatening attorneys and all that bull. SHAME on you. SHAME SHAME SHAME.

    2. Just found your facebook page. Perhaps we should all go there and post some stupid bunk as well.

    3. Eppo van Straten30 August 2013 at 00:31

      You're a joke. In particular I like 'formerly of Brooklyn'
      'You may have stolen'.
      I wish you, Louise, a lot of success with building your internet bussiness, jou'll get there. Not.

  3. Somebody should mention to Louise that the writer never claimed it was original. Besides which recipes aren't copywritable as they are facts, unless you're Coke, at which point it can only be considered a trade secret if they do their best to keep it secret. By publishing it on the web, it can be republished by pretty much anyone.

  4. I'm from Vietnam. In my country we call it "thit quay"
    "thit" means meat and "quay" means roasted :D

  5. Dear Louise,

    Thank you for visiting my blog- I have contemplated ignoring your comment as it is beyond ridiculous, but as you've gone so far as to threaten me with legal action and I believe in responding to all my readers, I think it's imperative I make a few obvious facts even clearer for your benefit.

    Firstly I'm sorry if whoever your contributor was feels I stole his/her recipe, but if the first sentence of my post already expressly states that I made it "for the first time after comparing tons of online recipes", surely that means I have no wish to claim I made the whole thing up myself.

    Secondly, when you type "siew yoke recipe" into Google, your SeriousEats website which you are supposedly co-owner of doesn't even pop up! How am I meant to plagiarise something I can't even find? I then googled "siew yoke recipe serious eats" and even then nothing comes up. You've got to be joking.

    Thirdly, siew yoke is an age old Chinese recipe made my millions of people around the world for thousands of years, with similar ingredients and techniques. As the comment by beelp91 shows, it is not even exclusively Chinese and features in Vietnamese cuisine too. Everyone has their own slightly different version but they all revolve around a few key things like lots of salt in the skin and a very hot oven. In addition to comparing about 15+ blogs and pages that popped up on Google I also asked the advice of my mother who used to make it at home in Malaysia. Are you seriously claiming your contributor holds singular copyright to it? Why not sue my mother back home then for giving me a similar recipe?

    And last but not least, my belief is that the joy in food comes in the sharing, otherwise websites like tastespotting, foodgawker or indeed even your own SeriousEats where bloggers like myself openly share their pictures and recipes wouldn't exist. I even willingly post the recipes for the cakes that I sell under Baked Goods to Order and have no problems if other bloggers republish them, even though I'd probably make more money keeping everything secret and claiming sole ownership as you do.

    What you're doing here is just flabbergasting- considering you are co-owner of a foodie website, how can you not grasp that the Internet and the huge food blogsphere in existence have made recipes completely accessible to everyone? How can you wave penalties and your attorney in my face for a dish that was in existence in Asian culture centuries before you or I were born? It is akin to suing someone for making a ham sandwich similar to yours.

    In any case, I wish you luck if you still intend to pursue this issue further with your lawyer.

  6. Louise, first off my condolences on the unfortunate middle name. Life must be tough when you're called "Chiffonade", the bastardised combo of a chiffon cake and lemonade eh?

    Secondly are you embarassed about being back in Atlanta? Why the need to say "formerly of Brooklyn, New York"? Needing some street cred?

    I'd like to see which sane attorney is even going to entertain your bizzarre notions of rights.

    Perhaps one with a similarly stupid middle name. Formerly of somewhere as well.

  7. lol!!! you see this is the problem with the whole "i'll sue whoever i want whenever i want just because i feel like it" culture in america... you end up with utterly ridiculous claims and allegations...

    wise up woman you do not and can not own any rights to any part of this recipe... so save yourself further humiliation and leave this blogger, who genuinely loves sharing the joys of different foods and recipes with the rest of the world, alone...

  8. This recipe has been open source and you can find it all over the world wide web, e.g.

    Oh, by the way, I prefer not to add the red fermented bean curd.

  9. What's my age again?28 February 2010 at 13:18

    "[T]he penalties that my attorney may impose upon you"
    - original words entered at 21:01, 27 February 2010 into's comments page for a 26 February 2010 recipe for "Crispy Chinese Roast Pork Belly (Siew Yoke/Siobak) by Louise Chiffonade Brescia from Atlanta GA but formerly of Brooklyn NY of the SeriousEats website (just so we're clear)

    Surely - and since we insist on being pedantic - penalties on Miss Tan(assuming any exist and can/will be enforced) will be imposed by the law, and not by Louise Chiffonade Brescia from Atlanta GA but formerly of Brooklyn NY of the SeriousEats website's attorney? I can't quote any authority here, but please don't threaten me with legal action.

  10. You know...Part of me actually wants Louise to continue with this legal action. Would be a good way for Sam to make some money.

    I've seen and heard a lot stupid things in my time but this definitely takes the cake(no pun intended on Chiffonade). This is the definitive American. If I am doing it in America, means I created it, own it, patented it and am God.

    Louise, find that dark little corner of that lonely cave you crawled out from and go back. And STAY THERE.

  11. What's with all this hating on America, but seriously, Ms. Brescia, there would be quite a lot of people out there for you to sue if you're genuinely serious about this. I'd personally like to see you take up all our uncles and aunties back in Malaysia at the hawker stalls.

  12. You guys take Louise Chiffonade Brescia wayyy too seriously. Come on people, it is just an ill-informed comment. Channel your hate elsewhere?!

    As a fellow Malaysian I'm embarrassed by you guys.

  13. "Anonymous said...
    You guys take Louise Chiffonade Brescia wayyy too seriously. Come on people, it is just an ill-informed comment. Channel your hate elsewhere?!
    As a fellow Malaysian I'm embarrassed by you guys.

    Anonymity gives you the balls you never had huh :P

  14. Alright I've found out this is a troll that has been targetting a LOT food blogs trying to flame their comment boards using the name and website of someone else, so let's stop responding now.

  15. Now see how dumb the rest of you look hahahaha.

    I'm the Malaysian who said "You guys take Louise Chiffonade Brescia wayyy too seriously".

    You guys were having a go like 13 year old kids. Grow up!

  16. what's my age again?1 March 2010 at 19:49


    sorry you missed out, "anonymous"

    next time, please don't bother commenting - go off to "grown up" land and be boring. we like fun people only (malaysian or not, i might add).

  17. i made this twice in beijing for my bro coz he liked it, and i was essentially sponging off him, so i thought i'd be nice. i cheated when trying to make it crispy by deep frying the fatty bits when the meaty part was done cooking in the oven which i guess makes it a wee bit more fattening, but i really couldn't wait that long for it to "crispy-fy" in the oven.

    now i want some. mmm.

  18. Haha whatever method works fine as long as the end result tastes good :) But doesn't that mean extra cleaning up to fry it separately rather than let it sit in the oven all the way?

  19. Interesting article, added his blog to Favorites

  20. Troll sported, that guy only up for attention.

  21. Wow all of this for some pork, I just want someone to cook some for me right now please, num num! ;)

  22. Thais ortins
    Frases da Conquista: Uma eficiente e poderosa arma para conquistar o homem que desejar!! O Blog Minhas Gavetas desvendou todos os segredos de