Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Siew Yoke with Puffy Crackling ~ Chinese Roast Pork

In his book French Lessons, Justin North described the crackling as extremely light and puffy. I tried his method twice just to prove that his theory works and it was not first time luck. I was so pleased. Every inch of skin was crackling - no chewy bits.

Siew Yoke
This method of preparing the skin is less arduous and simpler than in my previous recipe where the skin is first bathed in vinegar water and then poked during the grilling process. There was a lot more handling.

We believe it is the total combination of scoring, salting the skin to draw out moisture, drying the skin in the fridge and frying that makes the skin crackling.

The meat was also very tender and juicy. What we do need is an incredibly razor sharp knife and heaps of practice with scoring the skin as in some parts it was cut too deep.

Siew Yuk : Chinese Roast Crispy Pork

1kg pork shoulder
1 tsp salt

Marinate for meat:
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1½ pieces of red fermented beancurd nam yue, well mashed
1 tsp cooking wine
½ tsp sugar

1. Use a very sharp knife or a Stanley knife to score the rind, parallel incisions about 1cm apart. Do not cut too deep. Massage the skin with salt.

2. Mix the marinate together and smear it onto the meat portion. I randomly poked the meat with a fork to enable the marinate to penetrate the meat.

3. Place pork on a dish skin side up uncovered (fig 1). Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (Overnight is best. The meat will be more flavoursome and the skin will be thoroughly dry).

Siew Yuk
4. Preheat the oven to 170C.

5. Lightly oil a heavy base or cast iron pan and heat on high. Turn the heat to medium and place the pork skin side down to fry for 5-10 minutes.

6. Remove and place on a roasting rack, skin side up (fig 2). Roast for 50 minutes.

7. The crackling will be extremely light and puffy at this stage. Rest for 10 minutes before cutting to bite size pieces.

Crackling Roast Pork
1. The slow cooking of the pork at an even temperature ensures the meat is juicy and tender.

2. To ensure a good crackling, dry the skin first and then fry in hot oil before roasting in the oven.

3. Towards the end of the roasting, if the skin have not crackled enough, turn the grill on during the last 5-10 minutes and move the pork nearer to the grill to give the skin that extra blast.

Crackling Skin Recipe : French Lessons /Lecons Francaises by Justin North (adapted)


Anonymous said...

Your siew yoke looks really-really good. I actual bought a "Siew Yoke Poker" last year so I can try making my own siew yoke. So far I have used the "Poker" on everything else except siew yoke!

Your recipe looks good ... I think I will give it a try.

Sinner said...

Thanks Tricia.

Would love to hear how your siew yoke turns out. This one is easy.

Anonymous said...

Made it yesterday. Mine didn't turn out well. The skin didn't crackle. The taste was to die for! Love the taste!

I think the "poker" didn't do a good job! The last time I made it (about 1 yr ago), I had to use sewing needle bcos I didn't have the instrument.

The skin came out really nice ... but took a long-long time ... poking with a needle is very exhausting! But, I didn't like the taste.

I will try your recipe again soon with the "needle" and see if it helped with the crackling.

Sinner said...


My skin was really really dry by the time I fried it. I find a really dry skin helps very much with getting it crackling.

And also I roasted mine in a small table top oven and the top and bottom element comes on when it is baking (roasting) the pork. Which means the skin was also getting 'grilled' at the same time.

Maybe you would like to give this a try - turn the grill on during the last 5-10 minutes of baking to give the skin that extra blast. My friend did that and it worked for her.

There is no need to poke the skin in this method but if you do want to give it a bit of a poke, I used a satay stick in my other recipe - one in each hand and stab like mad.

Glad you like the taste, though quite disappointed you didn't get the crunchy skin.

Hope the skin crackle for you at your next trial.

Bob Goh said...


I love roast pork too!

I found one recipe from Internet before discover yours. According the recipe I have got, to make the skin crispy, first you have to boil the pork in hot water to make it half cooked, then remove it and let it dry naturally for half a day.

Wrap the pork meat with alluminium foil but cover the skin with salt before put into the oven. After 15 mins, remove the salt and the alluminium foil and bake it for another 15 minutes.

I have try this and it works!

Thought of sharing it with you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sinner, I finally muster some courage to try this dish. Thought it is quite difficult. It turn out to be quite easy. Except that the skin is hard. Do you know why ? I left it in the fride for about 6 hours. I have also fried the skin side down and skin side up in a non-stick frying pan. I really want to achieve that crackling skin. Sigh~!

Sinner said...

When you fried the skin in your nonstick pan, did you put in a little bit of oil and did it look like the photo on the right of the raw pork?

Instead of 6 hours, leave it overnight. Mine stays 24 hours in the fridge. I usually marinate the pork in the afternoon, stick it in the fridge and then take it out again the next afternoon, an hour before cooking. The skin might look horribly dry but don't worry. The drier the better.

And then when it is roasted and if the skin is still not fully puffed, turn your oven to grill and bring your pork up closer to the grill. Watch carefully as it will burn fast. You will only need a few minutes.

If it still doesn't work, then it is the skin that is the problem not your cooking method. Sometimes we find that a certain piece of pork will not puff evenly no matter what we do.

Don't give up yet ! You will get there.

Anonymous said...

Hi sinner, it's me again! I tried this siew yoke dish finally...WITH SUCCESS!! I'm so happy the skin crackled. The piccies posted in this blog definitely helped a lot. Also, I realised that one must know one's oven really well do be able to roast the siew yoke well. As the inner side of my oven is hotter, i had to rearrange the meat to make sure the crackle were even. I normally do not eat the skin (even back in msia - am writing from sweden now) but with all these hard work, I HAD to try how it taste like. It was really good! I'm very happy to get it rite on the first try. This is a really good no fuss siew yoke recipe :)
P/S: Enjoy the summer while it last before it's my turn again to get the sun ;)

Sinner said...

Glad all that hard work you put into making this crackling pork made you try the skin. Me and Mr Redneck 'fight' over the skin. lol
Thanks for the feedback.
You have a great Christmas and I will try not to get sunburn ;)

Anonymous said...

Try it on a bed of sweet-vinegar'ed pickled cabbage and dark soy sauce. Or cut it into itsy-bits for fried rice. I've also had it with a nutty (peanut/peanut butter?) sauce. Gorgeous.

- Mike

SueSue said...

I googled the recipe for Siew Yoke and it bring me to your blog. Very interesting blog and I am gonna use your recipe for making Siew Yoke.
Will bookmark your blog and come back to try out more of your recipes.

Sinner said...

Hi SueSue,

Welcome to our blog. Would love to hear your feedback on any of the recipe you try :)

Tricia said...

Hi Sinner,

Made this again. This time I let it sit in the fridge for 24 hrs.

I came out beautifully!!! Even my husband and son said it tasted better then restaurant bought!

Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Sinner said...

Hi Tricia,

So glad you have confidence in the recipe to give it another go.

You must be over the moon to get such high praise from your husband and son. lol

Thanks for the feedback :)

coffeesncookies said...

I just love your blog. I can clik n clik and not work the whole morning.:)

I'll try the puffy crackling this weekend but I'll fry the skin side down first with non stick frying pan. Same effect right ?
Also, what temperature did you roast the pork ? Will 180 C do ?

Sinner said...

Hi coffeesncookies,

Better go work first and then clik n clik without guilt. haha

Yes can fry first with a non stick pan but do put in some oil. Temperature for pork is 170C. You can crank it up to 180C towards the end to speed it up.

Simonne said...

wanna ask when u roast the pork in oven, do u place the pork in rack (so oil will drip) or place pork on tray ?


Sinner said...

Hi Simonne,

My oven comes with a perforated (holey) tray which I place the pork on and it has a tray which catch the oil drip.

ron said...


Your recipe is for 1Kg. Any comments on pork that is 3 ~ 4 Kg; (usually at this weight, we're dealing with a bone in chunk of meat).


Sinner said...

Hi Ron,

I don't have it on top of my head how long to cook meat of that weight. You will need to google it. Good luck.

Ping from Sydney said...

Finally...success with my siew yoke after following your recipe! Thank you so much. The photos and clear instructions really helped and for once, after numerous attempts (some of them rather complicated, I might add) to make this dish, I'm so grateful that there is a much easier and effective way to make siew yoke!

Sinner said...

Hi Ping,

So glad your siew yoke turned out great.

This is such a coincidence. Last night I was watching Master Chef Aust and one of the contestant was having a cook-off against Justin North. And he cooked a great pork dish out of suckling pig.

Thanks for the feedback :)

Jan said...

Hi Sinner,

I know what went wrong the last time 2 years back! The temperature in oven is just not hot enough for the skin to crackle because the tray is in the middle slot. This time round, I moved the tray to the top slot so that the skin is 1 inch away from the top heating element and turn the knob to MAX degree ! & wow the skin sizzled and crackled in 8 to 10 mins !

Thanks Sinner !

1 question: I have tried pork belly with the fat portion which totally melts in your mouth. Any idea how they do it?

Sinner said...

Hi Jan,

So glad you didn't give up. I find ovens are often the culprit between success or failure with most dishes.

Did you have the 'melt in the mouth' fat in a posh restaurant? No idea but I believe it could be the age of pig, breed, what they are fed with etc. Just like wagyu beef.

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