Siu yuk (roasted pig, Chinese: 燒肉; Jyutping: siu1 juk6) is a variety of siu mei, or roasted meat dishes, in Cantonese cuisine. It is made by roasting an entire pig with seasoning in a charcoal furnace at high temperature. Roasted pigs of high quality have crisp skin and juicy and tender meat. Usually the meat is served plain, but it is sometimes served with soy sauce or hoisin sauce.
When individual pieces are served, it is known as “roasted pork” or “roasted meat” (Chinese: 燒肉, Mandarin: shāoròu, Cantonese: siu1 juk6). When the entire pig is served, the dish is known as “roasted pig” (Chinese: 燒豬, roasted pig, Mandarin shāozhū, Cantonese: siu1 zyu1). In most cases it is referred to by the former term, since it is always consumed in small quantities.
The southern Chinese style of cooking is nearly identical between the south parts of mainland China and Hong Kong. Sometimes the entire pig is purchased for the sake of special family affairs, business openings, or as a ritualistic spiritual offering. For example, in the entertainment industry in Hong Kong, one tradition is to offer one or several whole roast pigs to the Jade Emperor to celebrate a film’s opening with a roast pig; the pig is sacrificed to ward off evils in return to pray for the film’s success. One garnish used to make the dish look more appealing is topping the roast pig with circular slices of pineapple and glacé cherries for eyes. The roast pig is often presented in red wrapping paper and a red box for luck.
In many overseas Chinatowns, due to the majority of migrants outside of China coming from the south, the cooking style served in restaurants is almost identical to that found in Southern China.
Siu Yuk - Crunchy Roast Pork Belly
- Mix together the baking soda and 1 - 2 tablespoons of water in a dish with a capacity just large enough to hold the pork belly.
- Add the pork belly skin side down, sprinkle the flesh side with the soy sauce, five spice powder, salt, and sugar, and scatter over the spring onion, ginger, and garlic. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Discard the spring onion, ginger, and garlic. Transfer the pork to a paper towel-lined plate skin side down and drain for about a minute.
- Transfer the pork to a cutting board skin side up, brush the skin with the rice wine or sake, and pat dry with paper towels.
- With a knife, score the skin, being careful not to pierce the flesh, or use a perforator tool. Season the pork generously with salt. Transfer the pork to a rack on a roasting pan skin side up and refrigerate uncovered overnight.
- Remove the pork from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature for about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 230°C. Roast the pork for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 190°C and roast for another 35 to 45 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Turn the broiler on and cook, maneuvering the pork under the broiler as necessary so that it browns evenly, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and puffed all over.
- Remove the pork to a cutting board and allow to rest uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting. Cut the pork into bite-size pieces and serve immediately.
- To make the dipping sauce: Mix all the ingredients together. Serve with the pork, plus boiled rice and steamed greens, if you like.
Cooks Notes & Variations
- Select a meaty piece of pork belly. The thick skin would ordinarily cook up hard and chewy.
- Take care measuring and applying the baking soda as excess can react with the fat in the heat of the oven and cause a soapy off flavour.
- The pork must sit level on the roasting rack so that fat can run off as it renders — pooling fat will inhibit formation of the crackling — and so that it broils evenly. If it is not level, prop up the low spots with some wadded up pieces of foil.
- Position the pan on the centre rack of the oven for the duration of the cooking time — do not move it up for the broiling step.
- When the pork comes out of the oven, don't tent it with foil as it rests to prevent condensation from forming and sogging the crackling.
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