There is something innately appealing about crispy food. Perhaps it’s because we associate crispy with great tasting food: generally crispy food is a product of the Maillard reaction, which leads to more intensely flavoured and savoury food, or maybe it’s the whole sensory experience of hearing that tantalizing sound of crunch and the texture. For me, the top 3 crispy food would be 1: Fried Chicken, which I have to cut out of my diet to protect my voice; 2. Tonkatsu (Japanese Deep Fried Pork Cutlet), which is another thing I have to eat sparingly of; and 3. Siew Yoke! Luckily this one I can eat whenever I want. Good news is that it’s also pretty convenient to make it at home.
You, glorious thing.
With the gadgets I have at home, there are no shortage of ways to make this delicious treat. The convection oven is the standard, Airfryer is super convenient and foolproof, and now I have the Panasonic Cubie Oven too which can achieve the same delicious result.
The Cubie in action.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, the Panasonic Cubie Oven has a few interesting functions, and you can read about its performance of steaming here. Today, I’d like to talk about the Healthy Fry function. Basically, akin to an airfryer. The oven circulates hot air to cook the food, so you can crisp up your dish without using much oil (or none at all if the ingredients are naturally oily). I’ve decided to try using this function to make my Siew Yoke. And did it work? It sure did!
Before we get to that, let me also tell you that I’ve tried using just the Convection oven mode as well and while it can also produce a decent siew yoke, it does require a much longer time and as a result the skin is a little less crispy than the healthy fry version and the meat ended up a bit too dry.
Anyway, let’s get to the recipe then. The basic Siew Yoke requires only a few essential ingredients:
Pork Belly (obviously)
Generous amount of Salt
Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon 5 Spice Powder
1 tablespoon Vinegar (or Lemon Juice).
The salt, pepper and 5 spice powder are used in combination to marinate the meat side while the vinegar or lemon juice is combined with salt for the skin to draw out moisture. But it’s the preparation that makes a world of difference for the crispy skin.
1. So, first, you take a whole slab of pork belly and blanch it well, for around 15 minutes, making sure it’s cooked all the way through. Then, drain and pat it dry.
2. Next step is absolutely crucial. You must poke hundreds of holes through the skin. How do you do that? Either with a fork, a skewer (takes ages, trust me), or a spike meat tenderizer that looks a little bit a torture device. Do it over and over again until you are satisfied that every surface has been covered. Then wipe the skin dry and apply vinegar and salt. It’s also time to apply your salt/pepper/5 spice marinade on the meat side.
You might have noticed that the first and second picture look slightly different, it’s because I decided to score my skin the second time for easy cutting later.
3. Once you’ve done that and properly worked up some sweat, leave the pork near a window to air dry for a few hours. Wiping the skin dry occasionally if needed. If the weather is humid, you might even want to consider using a hairdryer to dry it for a minute or two.
4. When the pork belly is almost ready for the cooking, turn on the cubie oven to healthy fry mode and let it preheat (the preset temperature is 190 and it’s fixed). Set it to 60 minutes and put in the pork belly, skin side up. Make sure the slab sits evenly so the skin will cook evenly.
5. Check the pork in the last few minutes, if the skin hasn’t bubbled up, add another 15-20 minutes and keep an eye on it so it doesn’t get burnt. For this batch, I also applied a miso/honey baste at the end for added flavour. It was such a good idea!
So the end product…. super crispy skin!
Tasty, juicy meat, perfect crunch. Just watch them disappear in minutes!