Whenever I go to Chinatown to pick something up, I almost always have to stop at a place to pick up some crisp skinned roast pork. This is often confused with the more well known bbq pork (char siew), which has the telltale red exterior from the sweet bbq glaze.
Both are good, but when faced with a choice, my vote goes to the simple roast pork if for no other reason than the crispy cracklin’ skin. Because it’s roasted at a low temperature for hours, the meat is basted with the rendered fat and the tougher connective tissue breaks down into soft gelatin making the meat even more moist.
I picked up a picnic roast which was surrounded by a layer of skin and fat which made it perfectly suited for this, but other cuts such as skin-on pork belly should work as well. Please don’t try this with a lean cut such as a loin as you’ll end up with pork jerky. The cooking time may seem long, but there aren’t many ingredients and once you’ve put it in the oven after breakfast, you can forget about it till dinner time.
1 skin-on pork shoulder or picnic roast
3 cloves grated garlic
equal amount grated ginger
1/4 tsp finely ground white pepper
2 tsp chinese 5 spice powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp oil
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
Wash and dry your roast thoroughly. Score the skin about 1″ apart.
Mash all the other ingredients together to make a paste. Smear the paste all over the roast working it into the skin and meat. Put the roast in a pan that will let the fat drain through (a wire rack over a baking sheet will do in a pinch), and stick it in the over for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, the skin should just be turning brown (if it’s getting too dark, turn down the heat sooner). Reduce the heat to 250 degrees F and let it roast for about 8 hours (for a 2-3 lbs roast). You’ll know it’s ready when most of the fat has rendered out and the meat has started pulling away from the bone.
When it’s ready, take it out of the oven, transfer it to a different pan (you could do it in the same pan, but the fat that’s collected in this pan will smoke and set your smoke alarms off). Put it back into a 450 degree F oven to crisp the skin for 15-20 minutes. The skin should be puffed up, crisp and golden brown.
Take it out of the oven and let it rest of a bit. You’ll probably want to take the skin off and break it up by hand, slicing the slabs of tender pork seperately. I make a dipping sauce out of scallions, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and salt to dip the meat in and have it over rice. One other thing… the skin doesn’t stay crisp in the fridge, so enjoy it all the night you make it.