Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Roast Pork (Siu Yook)

Roast Pork (Siu Yook)…..well let’s be honest here. Roast Suckling Pig....yes baby Pig.

OK, I know some of you will get a bit squeamish about this, but hey….if you eat meat you may as well know it’s not always served to you as a perfect, boneless, skinless filet :-)

Stop reading now, if you are going to be offended!  Don't judge me!

On our trip to China we sampled many interesting items.  I had big dreams of blogging about all our culinary adventures…but then when I realized that I was unable to access A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen, I kind of lost interest in documenting our meals.  In the end I took a few pictures, so will share some of the highlights.

For me, one particular meal stands out.  It was near the end of our time in China.  After an incredible day in my family’s village in Zhongshan, Mr. and Mrs. Wong, the owners of Vancouver Chinatown’s Dollar Meat Store, treated us to dinner.  If you’re Chinese and grew up in the 60’s, 70’’s or 80’s, I am sure you have had your share of BBQ’d meats from the Dollar Meat Store.  They are probably as iconic as The Hong Kong Café for their apple tarts!

The meal the Wong’s hosted was pretty spectacular.  What I want to share with you is the incredible Roast Suckling Pig. 

Wow….straight out of the oven and presented on a golden platter.  The only odd bit  was the two cherry tomato eyes.  I see this is a pretty common presentation for suckling pig…anyone know why?  

Back to the pork…..I was salivating at the sight and smell of this.  It did not disappoint.
The skin was the crispiest, crunchiest skin I have ever eaten on roast pork.  The meat was tender, sweet and delicate………and very fresh.  I won’t get into the details of that….but we were in China folks, use your imagination.

The servers carved, well actually “scissored” up the pork right at the table.  I thought this would gross out BR, but….by now we had been in China for almost 3 weeks; he was getting quite accustomed to the sights.  It didn’t seem to bother him or Dee or M, for that matter. Pretty good for a bunch of Gwai low's.  (Caucasian) Garden Guru missed this meal.  He had some power shopping to do!

Once the pork was cut up…….we just couldn’t stop eating it.  It was so good! We were a group of 16, believe it or not, we ate 2 suckling pigs and a 10 course meal…..yikes!

I have thought about this particular Roast Suckling Pig many times since we have been back…. 
No I am not turning vegetarian.  I have thought about trying to roast one myself.
I am a bit reluctant and to be honest, it does make me a tiny bit squeamish, but I think I will get over it.

I’ve been thinking of different preparations too. Imagine one that was bathed in garlic, sage and rosemary before roasting?
Hey Garden Guru, will our wood fired oven be large enough to roast a suckling pig?  Tuscan Porchetta...mmm, just think about it.

One of the traditions over the Chinese New Year includes feasting on Roast Pork or Siu Yook.  This year mom and I tried our hand at making it ourselves.  Well, guess what, it turned out pretty good.  Ya, I know, it's not the whole baby pig, but it's a start.

Mom figured it is a 3 day process, because of the marinating.  I think we can speed up the process.  I will experiment and report back.

Anyways, this is mom’s version of Sui Yook

2 lbs Pork Belly  (our piece was nicely layered with fat!)
Coarse Salt
1 tbsp Shoaxing Wine
White pepper
½ tsp. 5 spice powder
1 tbsp. Soy Sauce
½  tsp sugar


Pat dry the pork belly with a paper towel.  Whatever you do, do not wash your piece of pork prior to preparing…..this is exactly what mom said  “chien kee mo sai”

Make a marinade by mixing all the ingredients together, except the salt.  Pour the marinade onto the meat side of the pork belly.  Try to avoid getting marinade on the skin.
Massage the marinade into the meat and then sprinkle with salt.  

With a fork, poke the skin side all over…..this is the fun part….jab the fork into the skin so that the whole surface is covered with little fork holes.  This helps the pork skin to crisp up.

This is where the 3 days comes in.  Place the marinated pork belly on a plate, skin side up, uncovered and refrigerate for three days.  What you are trying to achieve here is a nice dry skin.

After the 3 days, the skin should be nice and dry and your pork is ready for cooking.

Preheat your broiler (top heat)
Broil the Pork Belly until the skin gets crispy and bubbly.  This took about 25 - 30 minutes.  Watch it carefully once it starts, it doesn’t take long from this point to go from good to burnt!

After 10 minutes under the broiler

After 12 minutes under the broiler

After 25 minutes under the broiler, we should have left it a few minutes longer

Once the skin looks like it is done, turn the broiler off.  Turn the bottom element of the oven onto heat at 400 degrees.  Cook the pork for another 15-20 minutes. 

This is our finished product.  It was pretty good…….not quite ready to rival the Dollar Meat Store mind you, but good all the same.

The beauty of making siu yook at home is you can control the amount of fat and salt.  Some like it sau dee, leaner, while some like it fai dee, fatter.  It was fun experimenting with mom.  

I am going to try a few different versions.  Check back for fusion siu yook.  At A Wok in The Tuscan Kitchen, “Pork Fat Rules!”


  1. Oh ... can't wait to see your fusion siu yook! :-)

  2. Let's make it on Saturday!

  3. PS, those cherry tomatoes are grotesque. Julia Child uses flowers!

  4. if you're game...I am. I will source one maybe about 20 lbs.

  5. Oh, yes please let's have it on Saturday...it will be TJD's responsibility to supply the "eye flowers" - I think I actually prefer the tomatoes!

  6. OK..done deal, we've got a 25 lb-er on order. Let the games begin!

  7. This little piggy went to....


    I grew up eating siu yoke and sausages from dollar meat store... my husband loves to cook especially with pork fat/belly/lard/anything! i will pass your recipe along to him and hopefully he'll make some magic for me.

    thanks for sharing the recipe

  9. Hi Mo! oh ya...those yummy sweet pork sausages from the Dollar Meat Store were the best. I bought a bunch of pork butt today....might try to make the sausages today too! It's really going to be a pig fest at A Wok In the Tuscan Kitchen....check back for the post!

  10. Hello Joy, I wonder if the meat got tender after only 25 mins under the broiler. Did I miss a step?Yummy crispy lechon.

  11. Hi Crispy Lechon,
    after broiling cook for an additional 20 minutes or so, with the bottom element set to 400 degrees.

    Our piece of pork was only about 2 inches thick, so that time was sufficient.
    You will have to play with the timing depending on the size and thickness of your pork.

    BTW....we have just put on a 25 lb whole suckling pig onto the rotisserie.....check back to see how it turns out. I'm guessing it will take about 4-5 hours or so to cook.