Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Crispy roasted pork belly (Heo quay) with vermicelli

It's Fat Tuesday, so why not getting fat together! And why not eating roasted pork belly before the Lent season starts. To me I can only afford to enjoy this dish a few times in a year unless I'm ready for a new larger pant size. That why whenever I prepare this dish, I always savor every single bite especially the most high prize part of the dish, the crunchy, crispy skin that tastes so divine. 
In my opinion, homemade roast pork is much more flavorful than the store bought one. Since the pork is prepared in a much smaller portion than the whole pig at the BBQ joint, you can easily control the marinade and able to let the meat mingle and absorb the flavorful marinade. The most important part to make this dish a success lies in the crispiness of the skin (of course without burning it). Once you can achieve this crucial step, you are more than half way being successful. To tell you the truth, if I could just eat all I want, I would definitely go for the skin. Tonight dinner, I serve it with mixed herb salad and vermicelli noodles, but you can also serve it with rice and it would make a wonderful entree.



1. 1 piece of pork belly with skin intact about 1.5-2 lbs (choose the one with same, even thickness)
2. Brine water: 4 cups of water, 2 tbsp salt, 1/4 cup of cooking wine.
3. For the meat part marinade: 
    - 1 tsp Maggi soy sauce
    - 1 tsp sweet soy sauce
    - 1/2 tsp mushroom seasoning
    - 1 tsp sugar
    - 1 tsp five spice powder
    - 1 tsp Mui Kwe Lu cooking wine
4. For the skin part:
    - 1/2 tsp salt
    - 1/4 tsp baking soda
    - 1/2 tsp vinegar
    - 2 tsp soy sauce
    - 1/2 tsp five spice powder
    - 1 drop of red food color, 1 drop of yellow food color

- Clean the pork belly, scrape the skin side with the knife and pick clean all the remaining hairs.
- Soak the meat in the brine water solution for about 3-4 hrs.
- Remove the meat from the brine water and dry the meat with paper towels.

- Combine all the seasonings for the meat marinade and pour it out on a shallow dish, place the pork belly with the meat part down on the marinade. Use a brush to brush the marinade along the side of the meat and be careful not to let the marinade to touch the skin part.
- For the skin part, sprinkle the skin with salt, next rub on 1/2 of the baking soda amount, then brush on the vinegar. Wait for 1 minute, then repeat same step for the remaining baking soda and vinegar.
- Cover the meat with a plastic wrap and refrigerate it 24 hours or at least overnight for best result.

- Next day, combine the soy sauce, five spice powder and food color in a small bowl and brush it on the skin part.
- Preheat the over to 350F, set up a water bath in a baking tray, place a cookie rack and top and place the pork belly skin side down. 
- Roast the meat for about 40 minutes at 350F, then increase the temperature to 425F and roast it for another 40 minutes.

- Once the roasting time is up, crank up the heat to 500F and change to broiler mode. Flip the meat skin side up and roast the skin part for about 15-20 minutes. This part is very crucial and you have to watch the skin every couple minutes for make sure they are roasting evenly. There will be some crackling and popping sounds in the oven but that is normal as the skin starts to crisp up. Just make sure to watch the skin and use aluminum foil to cover the brown, crispy parts to prevent it from burning further.

- Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it. Serve it with vermicelli, herbs, and fish sauce or on rice and you will get yourself a nice, satisfying meal.

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