My housemate is quite addicted to pork. Every time we are in LB, he would eat at Batcave (who serves the juiciest lechon kawali) for the entire week. Whenever we eat out, I know right away what he would look for in a menu. In hawker food courts, it’s gonna be the roasted pork that hangs in steel hooks together with the array of roasted duck and chicken. These roasted delicacies are so enticing with their crisp golden color. Good thing I would just opt for chicken and some steamed veggies on the side. To my housemate’s insistent demand, we bought a slab of pork belly at the Chinese market. It was the perfect belly – almost boneless, thin skin, very thin fat under the skin, and a good layering of soft fatty muscles. We bought the entire axial cut thus almost half has the ribs and the other half only the remaining cartilaginous edges of the ribs and pure fatty muscles. I cut it in half and used the better part for roasting. The recipe I used involves brining – I liked the result of brining in whole chicken roasting thus I applied it for this recipe. The flavoring for the meat is not that of the classic Pinoy liempo which tastes of barbecue sauce, but rather that of Chinese roast.
Oven Roasted Pork recipe
A. Brining (For a ~650 g pork)
5 tbsp. coarse salt or 3 tbsp fine iodized salt
5 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 cups water – enough to submerge the meat
B. Marinade and coating
1+ tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 tbsp Shiao Hsing Chinese Rice wine
1. For brining, dissolve salt and sugar in water. Marinate the pork in the solution in a ziplock freezer bag for 6-8 hours in the refrigerator. Remove meat, pat dry with paper towel and allow to air dry in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours, uncovered skin side up on a rack. Brining renders the meat juicy and plump throughout the entire roasting. The meat also imbibe the flavor and tastes well-seasoned from the inside.
2. Remove the meat from the refrigerator, and pat dry. Pierce the skin as much as possible with the edge of the knife or make vertical slits on the skin. Rub a thin layer of sodium bicarbonate (about 1/4 tsp) evenly on the skin, followed by a generous spread of coarse salt.
3. Slather the Shao Hsing rice wine on the meat part only (exclude the skin). Rub on salt and chinese five-spice powder on the meat part.
4. Allow the meat to marinate (on a rack, skin side up) in the refrigerator for a couple more hours.
5. Preheat oven at 250 C. Allow the meat to set to room temperature, pat dry and wipe off excess salt from the skin.
6. Roast meat skin side up in oven on a rack. Place a tray with water underneath to catch the drippings. Back down the temperature to 200 C and roast for about an hour. When the skin is starting to crackle, rise up the temperature to 240 C. Check from time to time if the skin has turned into your preferred color and crispness.
7. Take out roasted pork and allow to set for 5-10 minutes covered with foil. Slice into thin pieces with a cleaver or heavy chopping knife.
Some recipes blanch the skin side and scrape the skin’s outer layer for a more puffy and crunchy skin. I forgot to do this in this first attempt. Next time, I will try it.