I made Char Siu and Siu Yuk today. Correction, the prep started 3 days ago.
I often wonder how much home recipes would survive pass this age full of instant food and microwaves, where the younger generation lives on mass produced food and identifying them as the taste from home. When i first came to Japan the world was not as globalized as it is now, the only way to get a taste from home was to make it. And also back then i could not afford ready-made food, take-outs or frozen meal packs.
The beauty of home cooking, cooking from scratches lies in the variations which silently carries each person’s or family’s story. Like when my mum makes pork dumplings she would add fish paste for extra umami; my family’s Zongzi has peanuts mixed in the rice and no white beans paste(we hate it).
Siu Yuk is not an easy dish to make in Japan due to the scarcity of raw material, specifically pork belly block with SKIN on. Pork skin are used to make gummies and in Japan it is sold to Ramen shop to thicken the broth. I came across a beautiful block by chance and decided to give it a go. The cooking process was long but not complicated.
First the skin(Only the skin part!) had to be boiled while the meat part kept raw. Then countless holes were poked on the skin to allow moisture to vaporize thoroughly, which ensure crispy skin at the end. The meat part was rubbed generously with salt, pepper, sugar, 5 spices powder and Chinese rice wine then let sit in the fridge overnight to dried up the skin more.
Roasting time. The pork belly was wrapped in aluminum foil with only the skin exposed, which will create casserole effect on the lower meat part while making the skin extra crispy. I used a radiator oven toaster so not sure about the temperature…..just use your eyes and nose to judge if it is done! I definitely roasted it for at least 45mins in case anyone is looking for some guideline.