Ieat’s Chinese Roast Pork, Siu Yuk, Sio Bak Recipe II

Revised and reposted on May 2018
Original post published on Jun 12, 2015

I managed to pick up a few more tips in the last 3 years and have updated the recipe for a juicier, more flavourful sio bak! It’s one of those things that is really worth doing at home as it is relatively easy and you are sure to get a few “wows” and “oohs” which is really satisfying!


Chinese roast pork is something you can easily do at home.  My last recipe was published in 2011 and since then I have refined the method to produce a skin that is even more crisp!  The key to a shatteringly crisp rind is a two part process where the skin is roasted till it is charred, then the top layer is scrapped off.  What results is a layer of epidermis (skin) that is thin and as crisp as a potato chip!


Here is what you need:

Spice Rub
Pork belly 1.5 – 2kg (Fresh pork is best)
Salt 2 Tbsp
White pepper 1 Tbsp
Five spice powder 2 tsp
Ground ginger powder 2 Tbsp
MSG 2 tsp or substitute with 2 Tbsp Nam Yu (fermented bean curd)

Note:  Sand ginger powder, 沙姜粉, sha-jiang-fen is excellent for sio bak.  You can get it at some medicinal shops or at Victoria Wholesale centre.  Replace the 2 Tbsp of ground ginger powder with 1 Tbsp each of sand ginger powder and ground ginger powder.

For brushing
Rice Vinegar 1 Tbsp

Here is the step-by-step method


1.  Stab pork all over to produce hundreds of tiny puncture holes in the skin.  You can do this after the blanching step or before and after if you are kiasu (play safe) or if you just want to vent your anger.  (It’s quite therapeutic).

Update:  You only need to stab it after blanching.  Blanching the skin first will make it easier to stab the pork.  Make sure you stab it all the way into the meat.  What you are trying to do is to make a hole past the epidermal layer (tough skin layer) so that any air bubbles that develops under the epidermis will escape during the cooking process.  If you don’t do it properly, the bubbles will lift the epidermis off the fat layer and your crackling will not be even.


2.  Prepare a water bath with a rack with the water level just half a cm higher than the rack


3.  Place the pork belly skin side down and cook for 3 mins.


4.  Thoroughly cool the pork belly under running water


5.  Make slit across the bottom-est layer of the pork belly.  Cut across the grain so that the pork will not curl up when it is roasting.  It also helps the spice rub to penetrate the meat.

Update:  Dry the skin and apply the vinegar to the skin surface at this stage (instead of later) and lay it flat onto the cutting board so that the skin absorbs the vinegar evenly.


6.  Mix the spice rub


7.  Apply the spice rub all over the meat (not the skin)


8.  Leave to cure over night in the fridge.  Cover loosely with baking paper so that air can circulate and dry the skin.

Update:  Sprinkle 2 tsp of of salt over the skin layer before leaving it in the fridge


9.  After curing overnight, use a paper towel to brush off the excess salt.  Then insert two skewers crosswise through the meat.  This will prevent it from curling during the roasting process.


10.  Roast at 180°C for 1 hour 10 mins or until the meat is cooked through.

Update:  I now use a Miele Steam Combi oven to roast the sio bak.  I set the oven to 150°C, 80% humidity for 45mins followed by 180°C, 20% humidity for 45mins.  This results in a very juicy and tender sio bak!  In a conventional oven, use the same temperature settings but start with 1 cm of water in the tray under the rack.  Remove the water after the first 45mins (if it hasn’t already evaporated) and turn the oven up to 180°C for another 45mins.


11.  Remove the pork from the oven and switch the oven to grill mode at 250°C.  Meanwhile brush some rice vinegar on the skin side.  Once the grill is ready,  grill the pork on the upper shelf of the oven till the whole of the surface of the skin has bubbled and there are areas of char.  This should take around 5 mins.

Update:  No need to brush the vinegar anymore.  It was already applied in the marinating stage.


12.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 mins.  Lower the temperature of the grill to 200°C.


13.  Using a serrated knife, scrape of the top layer of the rind.


14.  Brush on some cooking oil and return to the oven and grill at 200°C until the rind is golden brown.


15.  Allow to cool before chopping into 1.5cm chunks of crispy, juicy goodness.  Enjoy!

Update 1 Oct 2015
The spice mix has been updated!

Update 6 May 2018
Made updates to several steps in the cooking process and added the video below:


Thanks to personal Chef Benson Tong for his help with this recipe

  • I tried another recipe yesterday which involves wrapping the meat with aluminum foil, top with coarse salt to cover the skin, bake for 1h 30min, then the salt crust is removed and the skin is broiled until crispy. No scrapping is needed and the crust is super crispy too!

  • Charles Ong

    Where can I buy that tool to puncture the skin?
    Thank you.

  • Phyllis

    My late sister bought me the same tool but it now old n dull. Is there a way I can sharpen it?

  • Jason Ong

    I want to do this in a BBQ. I’m thinking I can pre-cook this the night before, and broil the skin on the grill. Should I apply the white vinegar just before I grill it? I have seen some youtube channels apply it at the first roasting of the pork. Thanks 🙂


    Have you tried using the J.Kenji Lopez-Alt, salt and baking soda mixture on the skin? I think it could really increase the crispiness than salt alone.

    • No need. I am already very happy with this crackling. I did try baking soda before I read his article.

  • Lewis Loo

    Thanks for the great recipe. This is the only one I tried so far that really works. Btw, oit of curiosity may I ask why the blanching step is necessary? Many recipes so not have this step but it obviously works so I am curious about what it does.

    • Blanching softens the skin and makes it easier to poke holes in it.

  • Ryan Lee

    Can I used rock salt or sea salt? Amount same? Also I using conventsional oven, need to on the fan circulation function n rack which level? Thanks

    • Rock salt and sea salt is fine. Just use fan circulation and place the rack in the middle level of the oven.

      • Ryan Lee


  • Ryan Lee

    Do I blanch n stab or blanch than cool with running water than stab?

    • Blanch and let it cool before stabbing. You can stab without cooling too, but it is a bit difficult to handle.

  • Kathleen Tan

    Used this recipe over chinese new year and it was really good! So much easier to stab after blanching the skin (compared to trying to do it when uncooked!). Now I have to make a bunch for people – will it affect cook time / taste if I slice into smaller pieces before baking? Am thinking then I won’t need the skewers?

    • Not advisable. Just stick to the recipe. The best bits are in the middle. The sides are uneven, so best to make a whole slab, then cut into smaller portions.

      • Kathleen Tan

        Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, and so quickly! I’ll chop after cooking then… looking forward to seeing the new batch!