EPICURE’S TOP 10

Roast Pork Belly

Epicure - - CONTENTS -

This is­sue, we check out the holy grail of Can­tonese roast meats, siew yoke, or roasted pork belly. Pork fat has re­cently made the news as an un­likely health food, rank­ing eighth in a list of nu­tri­tious foods (though you might want to take the find­ing with a pinch of salt). The cut used to make this in­dul­gent dish is known as san cheng rou (three-lay­ered meat), streaky pork with lay­ers of fat and lean meat. Al­though some­what sim­i­lar to the Ger­man roast pork knuckle, the Can­tonese-style pork’s crack­ling is more brit­tle. This is be­cause the skin’s en­tire sur­face is pricked with count­less holes and dried out be­fore roast­ing, mak­ing it light and crispy.

Mod­ern cook­ing meth­ods in­clude roast­ing the meat with a salt-crusted skin, which draws out mois­ture and keeps the skin dry and crisp. A light brushing of vine­gar be­fore roast­ing also helps to de­hy­drate the skin. For the ul­ti­mate crust, the skin is roasted un­der high heat till it blis­ters and chars; a ser­rated knife is then used to scrape off black­ened bits to re­veal a light, crunchy crack­ling. Siew yoke is usu­ally served with a sharp mus­tard sauce to help cut through the rich­ness of the meat. We went to town in search of that dis­tinc­tively glo­ri­ous melt-in-your-mouth fatty tex­ture, capped by a salted and golden brown coat with a char­ac­ter­is­tic crunch.

TUNGLOK SIG­NA­TURES

You won’t go wrong with Tunglok Sig­na­tures’ ren­di­tion of the clas­sic roast pork. Be­neath the thin, crisp crack­ling is a jel­lied layer and per­fectly sea­soned and ten­der meat. A smidge of grainy mus­tard gives an earth­i­ness to the pork. Or­der a bowl of steam­ing white rice and you’re all set for a comforting meal. #02-88 Cen­tral, Clarke Quay, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street. Tel: 6336 6022

XIN CUI­SINE

We love the Crispy Roast Pork at Xin Cui­sine, which is ac­com­pa­nied by a sharp mus­tard sauce. Tiny holes punc­tu­ate the skin of the pork belly and a slit against the grain of the bot­tom skin layer en­sure that the spice rub evenly fuses through the pork and pre­vents it from curl­ing up when roasted. Af­ter overnight cur­ing, the meat is oven-roasted for two hours be­fore it’s fin­ished in the grill. A quick brush of rice vine­gar, oil and salt on the skin re­sults in a golden rind and crispy crack­ling on the out­side while en­sur­ing that the meat is moist and juicy in­side. Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium, 317 Ou­tram Road. Tel: 6731 7173

SONG GAR­DEN CHI­NESE RES­TAU­RANT

The sump­tu­ous five-lay­ered pork belly at Song Gar­den of­fers just the right amount of palat­able rich­ness to reach for a sec­ond help­ing. The pork is first mar­i­nated in a secret home­made recipe, poached, and air-dried for at least eight hours, to ren­der bet­ter taste and tex­ture. The skin is brushed with vine­gar be­fore it’s oven roasted to achieve a sat­is­fy­ing crunchy crack­ling. Finally, the siew yoke is care­fully trimmed to get that well-bal­anced bite of lean and fat meat. Mer­cure Singapore Bugis, 122 Middle Road. Tel: 6521 9299

HAI TIEN LO

There’s no deny­ing the ap­peal of ex­ec­u­tive chef Lai Tong Ping’s Crispy Bar­be­cued Pork Belly. He pre­pares the dish in a clas­sic Can­tonese style – the meat is ten­derised then rubbed with an aro­matic five-spice pow­der and salt. What gives it its thin, crumbly and flavour­ful crust, how­ever, is the removal of the top layer of skin be­fore it’s bar­be­cued. The pork belly comes with a side of the res­tau­rant’s home­made chilli bean paste sauce to cut through the grease, all while ac­cen­tu­at­ing the sweet, juicy meat. Level 3, Pan Pa­cific Singapore, Ma­rina Square, 7 Raf­fles Boule­vard. Tel: 6826 8240

GOLDEN PEONY

Im­mersed in a blend of five-spice pow­der, chicken sea­son­ing, gin­ger, cin­na­mon and white pep­per for three hours, ex­ec­u­tive Chi­nese chef Ku Ke­ung’s Crispy Pork Belly leaves a delectably sweet af­ter­taste. The flavour is in­ter­wo­ven with lay­ers of lard, meat and an ad­dic­tively crisp crust, the latter due in part to a white vine­gar mari­nade. Add a dab of mus­tard and en­joy it to the fullest. Level 3, Con­rad Cen­ten­nial Singapore, 2 Te­masek Boule­vard. Tel: 6432 7482

CRYS­TAL JADE KITCHEN

We can’t find fault with Crys­tal Jade Kitchen’s Crispy Roasted Pork Belly. Us­ing Aus­tralian pork, it’s mar­i­nated for 24 hours in a fra­grant blend of fivespice, galan­gal and fer­mented bean curd, giv­ing each bite a distinc­tive burst of umami. #02-32 Plaza Sin­ga­pura, 68 Or­chard Road. Tel: 6336 2833

CHAR

Broth­ers Anthony and Alvin Ung, who are be­hind Char, de­part from the tra­di­tional way of mak­ing the roast meat. In­stead of five-spice pow­der, Char uses a mari­nade of western herbs such as oregano and thyme to slather on the meat. Af­ter mar­i­nat­ing in the chiller for a day, the skin is then cov­ered in salt, given a mas­sage and left for an­other day in the chiller be­fore a te­dious roast­ing process dur­ing which holes are re­peat­edly poked into the skin. The re­sult is crack­ling that snaps with a sat­is­fy­ing crunch and a rich and mor­eish meat. 363 Jalan Be­sar. Tel: 6842 7759

SHANG PALACE

Ex­ec­u­tive chef Mok Kit Ke­ung ex­cels in mod­ern in­no­va­tive Chi­nese cre­ations as well as the clas­sics. Case in point: the tra­di­tional ex­e­cu­tion of Roasted Crispy Pork Belly at Shang Palace re­sults in a su­perbly crisp skin that shat­ters with each bite. Ku­dos to the alternating tiers of gelati­nous, unc­tu­ous fat and suc­cu­lent meat. Shangri-la Ho­tel, Singapore, 22 Or­ange Grove Road.

Tel: 6213 4473

LI BAI CAN­TONESE RES­TAU­RANT

A crowd-pleaser at this Can­tonese res­tau­rant is ex­ec­u­tive Chi­nese chef Chung Yiu Ming’s roast pork, which ap­peals with its text­bookper­fect crack­ling. Al­though slightly thicker than usual, we love how the shat­ter­ingly crisp yet not overly greasy skin gives way to a juicy well-flavoured meat. The rea­son: the pork is mar­i­nated in their in-house sauce for 48 hours be­fore it’s oven-roasted to per­fec­tion. Lobby Level, Sher­a­ton Tow­ers Singapore, 39 Scotts Road. Tel: 6839 5623

WAH LOK CAN­TONESE RES­TAU­RANT

Many cus­tomers visit Wah Lok for their pop­u­lar Baked Bar­be­cue Pork Buns, but their siew yoke is less talked-about. A pity really, as it’s an equally win­ning dish. The pork belly boasts a crispy bite with a layer of sin­ful but oh-so-good fat. Cou­pled with their lip-smack­ing XO sauce, it el­e­vates the whole taste ex­pe­ri­ence from good to great. Level 2, Carl­ton Ho­tel Singapore, 76 Bras Basah Road. Tel: 6311 8188

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