kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
[personal profile] kake
A dozen squares of roast belly pork with golden-coloured crackling, arranged neatly in a white rectanglar dish garnished with a small clump of shredded lettuce and carrots.
This photo is a CC-licensed derivative work of a photo by cshan.

Next in my dim sum series — crispy roast pork belly. Although strictly speaking this is not a dim sum dish, it's been part of so many of my dim sum lunches that I sort of had to include it. Like dim sum, it's (as far as I know) a Cantonese speciality, and (at least in London) is often available at restaurants offering dim sum.

I've seen a number of transliterations for this — siu yuk, siu youk, siew yoke. The Chinese characters are 燒肉 (shāo ròu in Mandarin), which simply means "roast meat" — remember, the default meat in most Chinese cuisines is pork, so wherever you see 肉 without further qualification, it almost certainly means pork. Don't confuse 燒肉 with 紅燒肉/hóng shāo ròu! It's completely different.

On a menu, this might also appear as 脆皮燒肉 (cuì pí shāo ròu) — the 脆皮 part means "crispy skin". This makes a lot of sense, since perhaps the most important aspect of siu yuk is the crispy, savoury crackling. If you're making this at home, you really do need to make sure that the skin of the pork is cooked thoroughly all the way through to the meat, or your crackling will be chewy. I can personally recommend Charmaine Mok's method for this, which involves actually letting the crackling go far enough to burn, and then scraping off the charred parts with a serrated knife. It's also worth checking out Sunflower's hints on choosing the best piece of meat for the job.

When I made this, I used Charmaine's recipe and it worked out pretty well (though note that I think the 45 minutes cooking time is meant to be 45 minutes total, not 20 minutes in the oven plus 45 minutes under the grill — I took mine out in time to avoid the house filling with black smoke).

There's also extensive discussion on the eGullet thread about making 燒肉, including an interesting experiment on the best way to treat the skin to get a good crackling — the surprise winner was vodka. I haven't tried this yet, but I certainly will next time.

If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.

Date: 2010-08-13 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eatlovenoodles.blogspot.com
One of my favourites! Roast meats are an essential accompaniment to dim sum! Although not strictly dim sum, you often see siu yuk on dim sum 'ticksheets' in HK and Singapore. In fact the portion size is like the one in your stunning photo - where's was it taken?

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