Step-by-step: How to make perfect crackling for Chinese roast pork
If you follow my instructions carefully — read them all before you start the recipe — the crackling you’re dreaming about will be in your hands. Buy a piece of pork that is of even thickness without bones to make carving easier. Poking holes in the pork skin is a crucial step, take your time and poke as many holes as possible.
1 kg pork belly
1 tsp shaoxing wine
1 tsp five spice (store-bought or my mix below)
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
140g rock salt
1. Prick the pork skin using a spike (I use the spike used to make takoyaki) or paring knife and create as many holes as possible, being careful not to poke all the way through to the fat. If you do, the salt rub will seep through and make the pork too salty.
2. Score lightly on the meat side and drizzle over 1 tsp of shaoxing wine (only on the meat side).
3. Mix five spice, salt and brown sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle on the meat side. Place the pork on a plate (meat side down) and marinate at least 2 hours or overnight in the fridge — don’t cover the skin as we want to dry out the skin.
4. Heat oven to 180C. Remove the meat from the fridge and place the pork, skin side up, on top of a large sheet of foil. Fold the foil up around the sides of the pork belly so just the skin is exposed. Cover the pork skin with rock salt, place it in the oven and cook for 60 minutes.
5. Remove the pork from the oven and increase the temperature to 250C. You need to ensure the oven is at temperature before putting the pork back in.
6. Remove the salt crust and foil from the pork and place the pork on a rack. Place it back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes or until you have a nice crackle on top. You might want to place some foil underneath the rack (but don’t have your pork sitting directly on it) to catch all the fat drippings.
7. Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes before slicing to serve. If you like you could serve it with mustard and/or sweet chilli sauce.
Five spice mix
Mix 1 Tbsp ground star anise, 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground sichuan pepper, 1 tsp ground cloves and 1 Tbsp ground fennel together. Store in an airtight container.