Crispy pork belly, particularly the Cantonese/Hong Kong style is just a wonderful eating experience. The juicy tender meat and crack and crumble of a wonderfully crispy skin all in one bite. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. I got hooked on it when we lived in Hong Kong and have been hardening my arteries with it ever since.
Although not the hardest recipe to make it does take a little time and planning, but the results are great and can be devoured as a snack, used as party hand around or just a great addition to a dinner party.
The key with this recipe is getting the pork belly skin as dry as possible. Although this can be done adequately over a couple of hours, the best option is to plan ahead and dry the skin overnight in the fridge using a healthy cover of salt on the skin side. And pierce the skin with as many holes as you can manage prior to covering in salt, best is to invest in a pork belly spike (or meat tenderising spike pictured below).
The other tip during the roasting process is to combine some rice vinegar/white vinegar with baking soda and a pinch of salt and basting the skin 2-3 times during the initial slow cook process. Both the vinegar and the baking soda help remove more moisture, and the baking soda will help attain that bubbled effect on the skin once the heat is turned up.
The dry rub in this recipe is not quite traditional but having tried quite a number of alternatives this works well as it adds a complexity to the meat. However as a simple alternative is to just use Chinese Five Spice and the result is more than acceptable.
I like to add the rub the day before also. Adding the rub to the meat side flipping and then adding the salt before letting sit in the fridge overnight. This ensures a deep flavour of spices in the meat. However for some this may be too intense, so adding the rub 30-45 minutes before roasting also works, basically as you remove the the pork belly from the fridge as you will need to let it come to room temperature anyway.
The cooking times are guides, as every time I make this it differs slightly depending on the weight and thickness of the pork belly.
So have a go and let me.