Hakka Zhar Yoke (Deep Fried Pork) Recipe

This is one of the most deliciously addictive things you can do with pork belly!  Once it is ready, it would be hard to keep everyone from pinching a piece.  Sometimes it might not even make it to the dinner table!

The recipe is originally from Aunty Ruby, whose recipe has been published in Food Canon’s Recipe book: Mum’s Classics Revived.  I just modified it by frying the pork belly in slices as it makes for better presentation. I have had this style of Hakka pork belly at some zi char stalls and I feel it works well as I like to see the contrast between the crust and the meat.   If you are a stickler for tradition, you can cut the pork into cubes instead. In that case, the pork will be covered with the tasty crust on all four sides!

Pork belly 1 kg (Skin removed)

Red fermented bean curd (Nam Yee) 3 pieces
Five spice powder 1 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Sugar 1 Tbsp
Sesame Oil 1/2 Tbsp
Chopped garlic 2 Tbsp
Dark soy sauce 1/2 tsp
Egg 1
Chinese wine 2 Tbsp

Plain flour 4 Tbsp
Rice flour 2 Tbsp
Corn flour 2 Tbsp


1.  Remove the skin and slice pork belly into slices 1.2cm thick
2.  Process the marinade and add to pork belly.  Marinade overnight or at least 4 hours.
3.  Remove the pork belly and dust with flour.  Leave to rest for 30mins for the flour to absorb the marinade
4.  Fry at 180°C for 5 mins.  Remove and rest for 10mins before slicing.

Here are my notes:

1. The main ingredient in the marinade is red bean curd.   I have tried a few brands and the one in the middle is the most fragrant, although the cubes are a bit mushy. You should be able to find it at the wet market.  The one on the right is from NTUC.  It will work too if you can’t get your hands on my preferred one.

2. When you buy pork belly, try to get the section that is closer to the ribs ie nearer the head.  The lower part of the belly ie closer to the hind legs don’t hold together very well and the layers will sometimes just spread out.   Pork belly that is too lean will not taste right.  You do need a nice balance of fat and meat in order for it to have that irresistible bite and flavour!  I have tried many different types of pork belly in the market.  Fresh is of course better, but fresh Indonesian pork tends to be very lean nowadays.  You can still get ones with a nice balance of fat and meat but you need to look around the wet market. I got great results from chilled Australian pork belly which I bought from Giant.  The frozen pork belly that you can find at the supermarket shelves are cut too thin for this recipe.  You will need to remove the skin as it will be very chewy.

Before and after resting

3.  I have attempted this recipe a few times with different ways of cutting the pork and dusting the flour.  What you want is a light and crispy crust which is full of the flavour of the marinade.   The key here is to allow the flour to rest after dusting.  Don’t be overly concerned about the even-ness of the batter as an irregular coating will give you nice crispy bits.  If you don’t allow the flour to rest, then you will have parts where the batter is white instead of pinkish brown.  I have tried using a wet batter where I add the flour into the marinade and just adding the pork directly into the oil without extra dusting.  It produces a thinner crust which is not as satisfying.

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