Five-Spice Crispy Pork Belly Recipe – A Refined Rendition for a Dinner Party
This five-spice crispy pork belly recipe is one of my favourite ways to cook pork belly. I’ve been refining my version of this dish over the last couple of years and I’m happy to say that I’m getting consistently fantastic results.
I’ve been doing a lot of cooking while Lara has been away the last three weeks hosting our inaugural Vietnam Culinary Tour. I’ve been testing out dishes for a new series on Asian barbecue recipes and reworking old favourites, such as this five-spice crispy pork belly recipe.
Five-Spice Crispy Pork Belly Recipe
This five-spice crispy pork belly recipe is very different to my char siu pork recipe and requires a lot more time before you get to taste it. This version of the dish is a refined version that’s perfect for a dinner party main course.
Five-spice or Chinese five spice is a dry spice powder mix of ground cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, and Sichuan pepper. Although you’ll find slight variations of this across Southeast Asia. It’s traditionally used for Peking Duck and is also used as a rub and in marinades for other dishes.
This five-spice crispy pork belly recipe isn’t a labor intensive dish, but the pork requires a couple of days of fridge time before final serving.
After the pork belly is cooked through, the cooled-off pork goes back in the refrigerator for at least another 12 hours, weighed down to make the pork perfectly even in height.
The pork then goes back into the oven to get the skin perfectly crispy. The final result looks like it came from a Michelin-starred restaurant. Learn more about this technique in this Gordon Ramsay video.
Tips for my five-spice crispy pork belly recipe
For this five-spice crispy pork belly recipe I use a very sharp paring knife to pierce the skin. However, there is also a handy meat tenderiser tool that I found on Amazon that looks perfect for the job.
Some recipes score the skin in a criss-cross pattern, but I prefer to make tiny cuts in the skin instead. The result: perfect squares of crispy-skinned but super moist pork belly.
The trick with the second cooking of the pork belly is to have the oven on full to reheat the pork and then use the broil setting to get that desirable crispy skin. This will vary from oven to oven and also the distance your pork is away from the top element of the oven.
Some cooks suggest cutting the cooked pork with the meat side up with a cleaver. I find that this can break up the crispy skin you’ve worked so hard to achieve. I prefer to use a bread knife with a serrated edge and cut through the crispy skin with a sawing action.
This five-spice crispy pork belly recipe is Cantonese in origin so it’s usually served with some bok choy and a sauce. But my favourite way to serve this as a dinner party dish is to place a square of the pork belly on a rich creamy mash, lay some bok choy or cabbage on the side, and serve with a red wine sauce or hoisin sauce.
- 600 grams pork belly
- 2 tbsp Chinese five-spice
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Place the pork in a colander and pour boiling water over the pork skin until the meat as tightened up.
- Allow the pork to drain off and then dry with kitchen towels.
- Mix the five spice powder with the oil until you have it fully mixed.
- Place the pork belly into a roasting pan and take a small, sharp knife (a paring knife is good) and make tiny little cuts in the skin using the tip of the knife. The more tiny little holes you put in the skin, the better the crackling will turn out.
- Turn the pork belly over onto its skin and score the meat with a knife at 1 cm intervals. This will help the marinade flavour the meat and also help keep the pork belly flat when cooking.
- Rub the marinade into the cuts in the meat and the sides of the belly.
- Turn the belly over and rub salt over the skin.
- Place the pork belly in the fridge uncovered for at least 12 hours before the next stage.
- When you are ready to cook the pork, preheat your oven to 200 C and remove the pork from the fridge allowing it to come up to room temperature.
- Place the pork on an oven tray with a rack, pour water into the tray and cook the pork until it has an internal temperature of 71˚C. I program my thermometer to a few degrees under this and remove the pork and rest in a warm place until it reaches the desired temperature.
- Remove the pork from the oven and let it cool slightly.
- Place the pork in a clean oven tray and place another oven tray on top of the pork. Press down with weights — canned food tins work well. Leave for 24 hours.
- To finish the pork, remove the pork from the fridge until it come up to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
- Place the pork in the oven and begin the reheating process.
- When the pork is halfway to the desired temperature, switch the oven to the broil setting and monitor the skin of the pork. You want to reach that sweet spot where the skin has browned, bubbled and is crispy and up to temperature for serving.
- Rest the pork for ten minutes in a warm place before serving.
- Slice the pork belly up into pieces. Around 150 grams per person is perfect for a main course.