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Succulent Roasted Pork Belly with Crispy Crackling

By Chris Capell

So, I have eaten it. I’ve seen the pictures of the golden-brown bubbly crispy pork skin. I’ve experienced the crunch, followed with a moist soft chew of the roasted meat, the mouth-coating feel of the velvety fat, and spice flavors firing off at different times. I’ve eaten it from the best restaurants in the area, and usually roll my eyes in delight. But these are pros, and they know what they are doing.

Chinese Roast Pork Belly! I wanted to do it myself, bad.

So, I researched and as many folks do, I watched some videos. Crazy how many different methods there were. Some said brush the skin with vinegar. Most said poke holes in the skin, a handful said to score the skin. Some did a salt crust just before roasting, others did a sprinkling of salt and baking powder and wiped it all off after an hour. Then I saw people say you don’t need to poke the skin, you don’t need vinegar. My wife, Lan, told me however much you research, it’s going to take multiple trials to get it right.

Seems like everyone agreed you need to render much of the fat off and roast the pork until it’s perfectly moist – all while achieving super-crunchy skin. But how?

Turns out I had great success on the first go. The meat was succulent, and the skin was super crunchy (more than I expected!). It’s a pretty simple cook, but it needs to be watched closely. Here is what I did:


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  1. Rinse meat and scrape top of skin to remove any remaining particles or hair. Pat skin dry with a paper towel.
  2. Poke a lot of holes in the skin using a sharp metal skewer. The Chinese use a special tool with multiple spikes. I used a meat injector needle. Just poke through the skin, not into the meat. I poked at least 200 holes. It goes pretty quickly. This will allow fat to bubble out and fry the skin from the top.
  3. Season the meat side generously with Peking seasoning. Do NOT get any spices on the skin.
  4. Place in refrigerator uncovered to dry the skin as much as possible. Preferably overnight, but at least 6 hours.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (I did the initial cooking on my grill).
  2. Build a foil boat around the pork belly. Fold up the sides and seal the corners well for a tight package that surrounds the meat, but leaves the skin exposed on top.
  3. Carefully cover top skin with a layer of coarse salt, being careful not to let it fall off the sides where it will over-salt the meat.
  4. Place pork belly (in foil boat) in oven on center rack, and place a drip pan underneath to catch any fat that happened to drip.
  5. Cook approximately 1.5 hours, though a lot will depend on the size of your pork belly. You want to cook until the internal temperature is 160-165°F.
  6. Remove meat from oven and remove salt crust. It should come off in pieces.

Crispen Skin

  1. Increase oven temperature to 425°F, and add a little liquid to the drip pan on the bottom rack so any dripping fat does not smoke up the house.
  2. Poke a bunch more holes in the skin. It will be easier when hot.
  3. Return pork belly to oven and cook approximately 1 hour, but keep a very close eye.
  4. When skin is bubbly and golden brown, remove from oven and rest approximately 30 minutes.
  5. Slice into bite sized cubes and prepare for bliss! I think it is best served with rice and simple veggies.