Whenever I go to Chinatown to pick something up, I almost always have to stop at a place to pick up some crisp-skinned Chinese roast pork. This is often confused with the more well known dish Chinese bbq pork (Char Siu), which has the telltale red exterior from the sweet hoisin sauce 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, crackling 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. With the delicately complex flavor of Chinese five-spice powder complimenting the rich, juicy meat and crispy skin, this roast comprises a simple feast, accompanied by steamed rice and a piquant dipping sauce.
I picked up a picnic roast which was surrounded by a layer of skin and fat, and it was perfectly suited for this, but other cuts of pork, such as skin-on pork belly, should work as well. Please don't try this with a lean cut such as a pork tenderloin, 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 this Chinese roast pork in the oven after breakfast, you can forget about it until dinner time, at which time a feast will await you.
For the amount of effort put in, this Siew Yuk is ridiculously delicious. Crispy, savory skin provides a delightful textural contrast to the fall-apart meat underneath, redolent of Chinese 5 Spice. Serve it with some steamed rice and Chinese garlic green beans. I also like to make this Scallion Sauce to dip the meat in. It's the perfect dish to make on a lazy winter afternoon.
- 1 skin-on pork shoulder (or belly)
- 3 cloves garlic grated
- 1 tablespoon ginger grated
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable 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 mixture 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 baking tray (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, then slice the slabs of tender pork separately. 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.