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Tepee

Siu Yook (Roast Pork Belly)

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My grandmother says the same thing about rubbing the skin with soda to make it crisper.

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Yesterday was the first opportunity i've had to make Siu Yook since i fixed my oven. I am also happy to confirm that a little bicarb on the skin does help to make it a little lighter and crispier. Though unlike muichoi i left the soda on the skin throughout (after getting my mum to admit that this was the right way to do it!). My wife says that it was the best yet, i would have to agree with her as it was also a great piece of pork to begin with. Anyway here it is:

gallery_52657_4505_419209.jpg

gallery_52657_4505_278658.jpg

And a close-up of the left-overs:

gallery_52657_4505_222358.jpg

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noooo, prawncrackers, i'm on a diet...those pictures make me want to go and try and make some now :(

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That looks magnificent. No residual soda taste?

None at all, I gave it a good scraping at the end so there would have been virtually no soda left on it anyway. Besides i didn't use much, maybe just under a level teaspoon or so.

It would be interesting next time to see how effective it really is, maybe treat one half the pork with it and the other half without. Whose next in line to try it?

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This topic is becoming a "cook off" of siu yook. Marvelous! :cool::laugh:


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Tks, muichoi, for the heads-up. Yum yum yum, prawncracker, it looks so good! Next time I'm going to try will be in a fortnight's time. Can't wait! And make it again for gaw doong (winter solstice) reunion dinner. Can you feel my excitement?


TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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That looks magnificent. No residual soda taste?

Whose next in line to try it?

I'm itching to try, but can't get good belly until I get into the city again - probably during December sometime. The prices at local supermarkets are way out of range for the amount and quality I'd want.

All the preceeding slabs look incredible! :wub:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Oh this thhread is terrible for my hips. I was thinking of getting pork belly to make samgyup sal but I think now I need to get two! I will be trying this sometime this month. Thanks! Yumm Porky goodness! :wub: I will report here after it is done. If I am lucky it will happen this week.

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hi all

after reading this thread and the pork belly thread in the cooking forum

decided to do a little experiment on how to get the best crackling.

So everyone agrees main prerequisites are dry skin, good fat layer, scored/pierced skin, salt and lots of heat.

But after reading the two threads I learnt that sometimes the reason we don’t get good crackling is that we haven’t denatured the skin enough as the tough skin prevents the blistering and crackling from forming.

So we can denature the skin by scoring, piercing, heating or using chemcials to attack it :smile:

So here I have two pieces of pork belly and I plan to divides these into 8 pieces and prep each one slightly differently to see which gives the best cracking results.

bellies

gallery_18280_5697_14564.jpg

overview

gallery_18280_5697_48250.jpg

so here's the fat layer on my pork bellies.

gallery_18280_5697_2682.jpg

it’s a little hairy so used a blowtorch to just singe off the bristles .

gallery_18280_5697_4063.jpg

then I scraped the skin with a sharp knife a few times to removes the burnt bristle ends

gallery_18280_5697_10262.jpg

then I made 5mm score lines using a clean craft knife.

For sui yuk we have that spiked hammer thing but for some reason I can’t find mine anywhere :huh: so I just settled for score lines instead

gallery_18280_5697_17517.jpg

I boiled 5 litres of water

gallery_18280_5697_2972.jpg

put the pork bellies on a wire rack in the sink and slowly pour the boil water on to scald the skin. the skin contracts a lot when you do this.

gallery_18280_5697_18289.jpg

lots of steam :smile:

gallery_18280_5697_7732.jpg

I pat dry the skin with paper towels and then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of salt over the skin of each belly and rub it in

gallery_18280_5697_22569.jpg

I cut the flesh in 1 inch sections down to the first fat layer

gallery_18280_5697_46208.jpg

rubbed in my marinade of

1t salt

½ t sugar

1t five spice powder

½ t white pepper

5 clove minced garlic

1 T meen see/miso

1T hoisin sauce (but I didn’t have any in the house today)

so far this is a pretty typical siu yook preparation.

Now I divide the pork bellies into 8 pieces for my 8 tests

gallery_18280_5697_34380.jpg

so the 8 tests are

gallery_18280_5697_43428.jpg

Test 1. make more score lines both horizontal and vertical, this will be my control piece.

Test 2. use a blow torch and lick the surface of the skin with the flame until I see the skin dry and change colour but I don’t burn or blister the skin.

Test 3. brush lemon juice on. As it is acidic it should denature the skin.

Test 4. brush vinegar another acid to denature the skin.

gallery_18280_5697_34349.jpg

gallery_18280_5697_13602.jpg

Test 5. brush lye water (kan sui) or 50% potassium carbonate in solution. An alkali used to denature the skin and is the traditional Chinese method I believe.

gallery_18280_5697_56146.jpg

Test 6. brush baking powder/ bicarbonate of soda – 50% sodium bicarbonate in solution. Probably the most common alkali in a western kitchen and you are more likely to have this then lye water.

Test 7. brush alcohol – 40% vodka – dehydrates and denatures proteins, although I read that I actually need a 70-80% solution to really do the job.

Test 8. brush kiwi juice - contains a protein digesting enzyme called Actinidain and i use this to tenderise tough cuts of beef.

so here are the 8 piece on a platter

gallery_18280_5697_6023.jpg

these go back into the fridge uncovered for 24 hours to dry some more.

I will cook these tomorrow :wink:

stay tuned and fingers crossed I get some success.

oh and happy new year!! :biggrin:


Edited by origamicrane (log)
  • Like 1

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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Wow- thanks for taking one for the team. Looking forward to your results.

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Me too-er, baking powder is different to baking soda!

yep didn't have any plain soda in the house

but baking powder has baking soda in it so hopefully this will work.

the one i am betting on to work well are the lye water and the lemon as they are the most alkaline and acid of the lot.

But the one i be most interested in seeing are the kiwi and the vodka because as far as i can tell no one has tried either of these.


"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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OC, your first name wouldn't be Heston by any chance? :wink:

I look forward to seeing the results.


Edited by CFT (log)

Best Wishes,

Chee Fai.

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Where have you been, origamicrane? What a great "re-entry"! Looking forward to the results!


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Where have you been, origamicrane? What a great "re-entry"! Looking forward to the results!

hiya

yeah i haven't been posting much for a while guess i've been busy :smile:

back now :wink:


"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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Fantastic experiment can't wait to see the results. It's shame you couldn't find your spikey implement as i think it gives a very different finish to scoring. Mind you it gives you an excuse to run another tasty experiment!

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Fantastic experiment can't wait to see the results.  It's shame you couldn't find your spikey implement as i think it gives a very different finish to scoring.  Mind you it gives you an excuse to run another tasty experiment!

yeah will be repeating this experiment until i get it right

all in the name of science of course :wink:

yeah there is definitely a difference between spiking and scoring the skin

but hopefully we be able to tell which method gives the best results.

I've been wondering where my spiked hammer has gone actually

maybe my dad taken it down to the shop.. hmmm..... :huh:

anyway i ordered a 35 blade jaccard the other day so I definitely will be repeating this within the next few weeks using only spiking.

Just had a peek this morning and the torched, lye and lemon sections defintely looked a lot drier then the rest followed by the vinegar, soda, vodka.

The wettest looking where the plain scored one and the kiwi one.

just 10 more hours in the fridge and then i can cook them, can't wait to get home from work today. :smile:


"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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Great experiment! BTW, baking powder is pH balanced because it includes an acid along with the soda.


Edited by sheetz (log)

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Great experiment! BTW, baking powder is pH balanced because it includes an acid along with the soda.

good point

hmmm... oh well... scrap one piece.

will get the proper stuff for the next attempt. :smile:


"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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ok

just cooked my pork bellies.

so took the bellies out of the fridge and then lightly sprinkled some more salt on the top.

I used a salt shaker and probably used less then a teaspoonful of salt on the 8 pieces.

Cooking times and temperatures:

put in middle rack of a preheat oven

start with 20 minutes at 240C

then 20 minutes at 200C

then 10 minutes at 240C

followed by 5-10 minutes under the grill

whilst carefully monitoring that crackling isn't burning.

Even before i finished cooking i could already see which ones were working and which weren't. After the initial 20 minutes at 240C you could see that the lye, torched, soda and vodka was already blistering and the kiwi one looked like it was burning.

so the results are as follow :biggrin:

here's a picture of all of the pieces after being in the fridge for 24 hours

you can see which ones have dried more by the slightly dark skin tones the white ones are the ones that are still more wet.

gallery_18280_5697_58155.jpg

here's what they looked like after cooking

a little bit of burning but nothing a good knife scrap won't remove.

gallery_18280_5697_52360.jpg

and here is a cross section off all of them together

gallery_18280_5697_31895.jpg

TEST 1 - BLOW TORCHED SKIN

torched skin after 24 hours in the fridge

gallery_18280_5697_34223.jpg

out of all the pieces this was pretty much the driest skin, touching it you could tell if was very dry and hard.

torched crackling

gallery_18280_5697_10526.jpg

had a pretty even bubbling and colour

torched cross section

gallery_18280_5697_11777.jpg

Verdict: very even colour and even crackling, good crunch with a little resistance.

TEST 2 - LEMON JUICE

lemon skin after 24 hours in the fridge

gallery_18280_5697_16608.jpg

this looked dryish but the skin still had some suppleness.

lemon crackling

gallery_18280_5697_10131.jpg

good crackling again not as even but good colour

lemon cross

gallery_18280_5697_57814.jpg

Verdict: a harder crunch then the blow torched and slightly chewy.

TEST 3 - VINEGAR

vinegar skin after 24 hours in the fridge

gallery_18280_5697_9690.jpg

similiar to the lemon skin but seemed wetter still.

vinegar crackling

gallery_18280_5697_51045.jpg

pretty similiar to the lemon in colour and blistering

vinegar cross

gallery_18280_5697_28864.jpg

Verdict: this crackling was lighter and had a softer crunch compared to the lemon crackling.

TEST 4 - KIWI

kiwi skin after 24 hours in the fridge

gallery_18280_5697_12724.jpg

the skin was the wettest out of all of them

kiwi crackling

gallery_18280_5697_28399.jpg

err..... picture says it all, it didn't form crackling but instead turned into burnt plastic skin.

kiwi cross

gallery_18280_5697_32857.jpg

Verdict: complete failure i guess a protein digestive enzyme is no good for crackling, maybe it digested so much of teh skin that there was nothing to blister? I know that if I use kiwi juice to tenderise meat for more then 6 hours it turns the meat into meat paste.

TEST 5 - VODKA

vodka skin after 24 hours in the fridge

gallery_18280_5697_46443.jpg

this was surprising, as the skin seemed pretty dry

vodka crackling

gallery_18280_5697_48229.jpg

very even crackling and colour whilst this was cooking i could see this was the one that was forming the most uniform crackling

vodka cross

gallery_18280_5697_16018.jpg

Verdict: a very good crackling, light crunch, very even blistering and colouring.

TEST 6 - BAKING POWDER

baking powder skin after 24 hours in the fridge

gallery_18280_5697_30667.jpg

skin was pretty dry and seemed hard, not very supple.

baking powder crackling

gallery_18280_5697_2255.jpg

This looked like it was forming good crackling at the end of the designated cooking time but the middle still hadn't blister completely so I left it under the grill for a further 3 minutes. End result was not as even colour or blistering.

baking powder cross

gallery_18280_5697_46972.jpg

Verdict: reasonably crunch but was noticably more chewy then the previous ones.

TEST 7 - LYE WATER

lye skin after 24 hours in the fridge

gallery_18280_5697_11800.jpg

this skin was very dry and took on a hard waxy appearance

lye crackling

gallery_18280_5697_5374.jpg

hehehe :smile: a picture says a thousand words? this was easily the best crackling in colour and blistering,

the crackling actually rose and seperated from the fat layer.

In fact this was already blistering in the initial 20 minutes of cooking.

lye cross

gallery_18280_5697_56325.jpg

Verdict: easily the best looking crackling and crunchiest but also had a very slight chewiness.

TEST 8 - SCORED

scored skin after 24 hours in the fridge

gallery_18280_5697_3604.jpg

this still looked pretty wet in comparison to the torched and alkaline brushed pieces.

scored crackling

gallery_18280_5697_18361.jpg

this one had the best golden colour and even blistering but might have been due to the fact it was the middle piece. I scored this one a lot more in both horizontal and vertical directions.

scored cross

gallery_18280_5697_52099.jpg

Verdict: this crackling was tougher and chewier then the rest although having said that it would still be acceptable to most people.

:biggrin:

This was great fun :) and the winner of the best crackling was easily won by the Lye Water. The baking powder did surprisingly well and next time i will use pure bicarbonate of soda rather then baking powder and see if i get an even better crackling.

So it looks like the chinese restaurants were right about lye water.

Lye water did produce the best crackling but it didn't produce the best siu yook in my opinion as siu yook should have the crackling still attached to the meat. :wink:

Surprisingly the best siu yook in my opinion was my wild card vodka as it had the best colour and crunch and most even blistering and still had the crackling attached to the meat. Think i will repeat this using a 60-80% alcohol solution next time and pit it against pure baking soda and lye water.

the worst one was the kiwi as it just started burning rather then blistering.

so my order of preference

1. vodka

2. lye

3. baking powder

4. torched

5. vinegar

6. lemon

7. scored

8. kiwi - not really counted as it completely failed

BTW just to clarify apart from the kiwi all the other 7 were really sucessful.

If I had to taste all 7 cracklings in a blind taste test, the lye and vodka would have been clear winners but for the remaining 5 it would have been very hard to distinguish between them.

So basically all the different methods do work very well but the lye and vodka do have the edge on lightness and crunchiness. :smile:

I will repeat this experiment again next month with the following changes

I will just use a spiked hammer to pierce the skin rather then score it

and i will do three tests

1. lye water

2. a 60-80% alcohol solution

3. a 50% bicarbonate of soda solution

and leave them for 2 days in the fridge.

If anyone has any observation or suggestions please let me know :)


Edited by origamicrane (log)
  • Like 2

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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      Banquet meals as served in large hotels and banquet dedicated restaurants will typically have a lot more meat dishes than a smaller family restaurant. Also the amount of meat in any dish will be greater in the banquet style places.
       
      Traditional Chinese cooking is/was very vegetable orientated. I still see my neighbours come home from the market with their catch of greenery every morning. However, whereas meat wasn't the central component of dinner, it was used almost as a condiment or seasoning. Your stir fried tofu dish may come with a scattering of ground pork on top, for example. This will not usually be mentioned on the menu.
      Simple stir fried vegetables are often cooked in lard (pig fat) to 'improve' the flavour.
       
      Another problem is that the Chinese word for meat (肉), when used on its own refers to pork. Other meats are specified, eg (beef) is 牛肉, literally cattle meat. What this means is that when you say you don't eat meat, they often think you mean you don't eat pork (something they do understand from the Chinese Muslim community), so they rush off to the kitchen and cook you up some stir fried chicken! I've actually heard a waitress saying to someone that chicken isn't meat. Also, few Chinese wait staff or cooks seem to know that ham is pig meat. I have also had a waitress argue ferociously with me that the unasked for ham in a dish of egg fried rice wasn't meat.
       
      Also, Chinese restaurant dishes are often given have really flowery, poetic names which tell you nothing of the contents. Chinese speakers have to ask. One dish on my local restaurant menu reads “Maternal Grandmother's Fluttering Fragrance.” It is, of course, spicy pork ribs!
      Away from the tourist places, where you probably don't want to be eating anyway, very few restaurants will have translations of any sort. Even the best places' translations will be indecipherable. I have been in restaurants where they have supplied an “English menu”, but if I didn't know Chinese would have been unable to order anything. It was gibberish.
       
      To go back to Buddhism and Taoism, it is a mistake to assume that genuine followers of either (or more usually a mix of the two) are necessarily vegetarian. Many Chinese Buddhists are not. In fact, the Dalai Lama states in his autobiography that he is not vegetarian. It would be very difficult to survive in Tibet on a vegetarian diet.
       
      There are vegetarian restaurants in many places (although the ones around where I am never seem to last more than six months). In the larger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai they are more easily findable.
       
      Curiously, many of these restaurants make a point of emulating meat dishes. The menu reads like any meat using restaurant, but the “meat” is made from vegetable substitutes (often wheat gluten or konjac based).
       
      To be continued
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