Crispy Chinese BBQ Pork Belly (Siu Yuk)

Crispy Chinese BBQ Pork Belly (Siu Yuk)
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Siu Yuk (pronounced See-w yolk) or Crispy Chinese Pork Belly is one of the most iconic Cantonese or Chinese dishes. Did you know that siu yuk means to cook meat over hot heat? There is a sense of urgency when ordering a half pound of siu yuk at a Chinese BBQ house; you have to race home to enjoy it with hot steaming rice. You don’t realize this is high class, low brow cooking when the BBQ chef uses a meat cleaver to gracefully smash perfect cubes crispy pork belly and place into a Styrofoam box. When the fragrant perfume of crispy pork drifts in the room, you realize… this is an art!

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Once you have a favorite Chinese BBQ chef, you follow him/her from Chinese BBQ House to BBQ House forever. Yes, loyalty is commanded! Unless your BBQ chef moves across the city, into the suburbs and the inconvenience forces you to try a new spot. This is my current life. 🙁 My last siu yuk purchase was disappointing. The skin was salty and chewy (not crispy), while the pork belly meat was bland and in need of seasoning. A great Chinese BBQ chef ensures their pork belly meat is seasoned – not bland, not too salty and not dry. Seeing that I’m of Chinese descent, I also have a discerning taste for siu yuk and I barbecue weekly, it seems natural for me to perfect this art form. Challenge accepted!

Goal: My first order of business, ensure the pork belly meat is seasoned and moist.
Solution: Inject pork belly meat with an Asian brine and allow to marinate over night. The brine allows the meat to retain moisture, all the while, seasoning at the same time.

Goal: Enjoying crispy skin on CRISPY pork belly
Solution: Dry out the skin/ rind by scoring shallow cuts into the pork skin/ rind, brushing on vinegar, allowing the skin/rind to dry out in a fridge overnight, and utilizing large salt granules to dry out the skin. My best advice, eat the Chinese Crispy Pork Belly as soon as it has rested and is warm. Pork belly skin loses crispness after sitting all day, it becomes chewy. If necessary, reheat in an oven to remind yourself of the skin’s crispy memory.

Goal: Tender, juicy bite of pork belly.
Solution: Slow cook the pork belly on low heat to render the fat. This slow cooking allow the collagen in the pork belly to gently cook and convert into tender gelatin while keeping its juices.

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This week’s challenge is “Chinese” for Happy Chinese New Year! Gong hei fat choy! May fortune and prosperity be with you – a couple of pounds of Crispy Chinese BBQ Pork Belly (Siu Yuk) never hurt either!
Taste: So succulent and juicy…..
Texture: Crispy skin – check! Tender meat – check!

Siu Yuk - Chinese Crispy Pork Belly

Smoked Chinese Crispy Pork Belly (Siu Yuk)

Love the crunch of the iconic Crispy Chinese Pork Belly or Siu Yuk (pronounced See-w yolk) while paired with tender juicy pork. Its a long cook day, but worth every crispy and tender bite!

Equipment

  • Sharp knife
  • Meat injector
  • Foil Pan
  • Aluminum foil

Ingredients
  

  • 9 x9” pork belly with skin/rind
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup of extra coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon + ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • Sweet spice rub
  • Brine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon shao xing wine 2 teaspoons white wine
  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Janice’s All Day, All Night, All Purpose Rub

  • 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (NOT table salt!!!)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • Pork Belly Seasoning Rub

2 tablespoons Janice’s All Day, All Night, All Purpose rub

  • 2 teaspoons five spice powder

Instructions
 

  • Place pork belly skin/ rind up on pan. Using the tip of a very sharp knife, barely score the skin across the pork belly every 3/8”. Keep the scoring shallow, so that the skin is not sliced all the way and the cuts do not go into the fat. Turn the pork belly and barely score the skin of the pork belly every 3/8” perpendicular to the original scoring.
    Siu Yuk Preparation - barely score skin
  • Flip pork belly over, so the meat side is up (skin/rind side down) into a shallow container or pan
  • In a cup, mix brine solution. Using the meat injector, inject the brine into the pork belly. Allow to rest for at 20 minutes. Drain any excess liquid from the pan.
  • Add ingredients for Pork Belly Seasoning Rub into a small spice rub container and season bottom and sides of pork belly until coated.
  • Flip pork belly so it is meat side down and skin/ rind up. Use a paper towel to wipe off any extra moisture on the pork belly skin/ rind. Discard paper towel.
  • Brush white vinegar onto the pork belly skin/rind.
  • Place pork belly into refrigerator UNCOVERED for 8-24 hours, ideally overnight. This will dry out the surface of the pork belly skin/rind to allow it to crackle on high heat later.
    Siu Yuk Preparation - Refridgerate pork belly overnight
  • Preheat smokers/grill/oven to 250F.(200F on Gateway Drum Smoker)
  • Create a foil sling by cutting a piece of tin foil to pull up tight, along the sides of the pork belly while leaving the skin/rind exposed. Press edges of tin foil tight to pork belly rind.
  • Place pork belly in the foil sling into a foil pan for more support.
  • Sprinkle extra coarse salt onto the top of the pork belly skin/ rind, careful the salt does not slip into the foil sling (as the pork belly will gently cook and steam in the foil. If the salt falls into the foil sling, the meat will be extra salty.
    Siu Yuk Preparation - Spread coarse salt onto pork belly skin/rind to draw moisture
  • Place foil pan with pork belly and top layer of salt into smoker for 2 hours until pork belly gently renders.
    Siu Yuk Preparation - low slow cook of salt encrusted pork belly
  • Increase heat on smoker/grill/oven to 350F.
  • Remove pan of pork belly from smoker to remove salt from surface of the pork belly skin/ rind. Use a brush to brush the salt off the top of the crust into the foil sling. Discard foil sling with salt.
    Siu Yuk Preparation - Prepare new foil sling for pork belly
  • With a new piece of foil, create 3 sides for a new foil sling with the last side ready to fold up. In the new foil sling, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and sprinkle a layer of a sweet spice rub across the bottom.
  • Transfer the pork belly (brush off any salt granules that may stick to it) from “salty” foil sling and place into a new foil sling. Fold the sides up, folding the corners in to keep the sling tight.
    Siu Yuk Preparation - Pork belly transferred to new foil sling
  • Place pork belly in foil sling and foil pan onto smoker. Pour in ¼ cup of apple cider into the side of the sling or until the apple cider vinegar comes up the edges of pork belly. (Do not allow the pork belly skin/ rind to be submerged.)
    Siu Yuk Preparation - Ready to braise pork belly in new foil sling
  • Smoke/cook pork belly for another 1-2 hours until pork belly is firm to the touch. This means the meat has been thoroughly braised.
    Siu Yuk Preparation - Pork belly after braising
  • Increase heat to 450F on smoker/ grill or low broil on oven or drop the rack onto the middle rack of Gateway Drum Smoker.
  • Take belly out of the foil sling and place skin side down against the heat on smoker/ grill or keep upwards to broiling element in oven.
  • Smoke/cook on high heat for 20-40 minutes while the skin crisps up and bubbles on the surface.
  • Remove pork belly from heat and allow to rest under loosely tented aluminum foil for 10-30 minutes.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the pork belly into cubes or slices.



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