Cantonese pork belly

Cantonese pork belly

There is one thing I can’t resist and that is pork belly. This is possibly one of the things that would stop me from going vegetarian or even vegan. I would order it on a menu and I would absolutely cook it as a special treat. I love the soft, melt in your mouth meat and airy, salty crackling is incredible.

I once spent six months developing the perfect pork crackling recipe. I got a very good one where you cook the crackling separate to the pork belly but the oven took a beating. I have tried lots of different ways and when the Chinese New year came along I found a very intriguing recipe for Cantonese pork with what looked like the perfect crackling.

For once I followed a recipe step by step. The recipe can be found on a blog, The Woks of life. I started the day before to prepare the pork belly and the recipe states that you need to prick the skin so I stabbed it with a sharp knife, all over to get that crackling going.


I was in the middle of preparing the pork belly when I realized I had run out of Chinese five spice and had to make some and here is my recipe. I have changed the amounts by spice slightly and added a bit more of what I like but here is a traditional recipe.


Chinese five spice 

preparation time 5 minutes 

cooking time 0 minutes, just a few for toasting the spices 

serves makes a batch of about 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup 


  • 1 1/2 tbsp whole star anise
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Place the whole spices in a frying pan and toast until they start to smoke lightly, they will smell amazing. Let them cool slightly.

Place the spices in a spice grinder and grind until fairly smooth. Mix the ground spices with the cinnamon powder and place in an airtight jar. The spice mix will keep for a long time.


The recipe said dry the pork for 12-24 hours so I rubbed the skin with Shoaxing rice wine and added Chinese five spice and salt to the meaty sides and kept it, uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours. The skin was dry to touch.

Before adding rock salt to the top to cover I added rice wine vinegar, as per the recipe and then the salt.


salt covered pork belly for roasting


I roasted it on 375F or 190C for an hour and a half.

I have never cooked pork belly this way and couldn’t wait to see how it would come out.

The salt had formed a crust and almost all of it came off in chunks. I brushed off most of the remaining salt.


Salt roasted pork belly


Here the recipe says place the pork belly under the broiler on low. That was a little bit unclear so after some deliberation I put the broiler and the fan on 390F or 200C and put the pork belly, salt removed in the oven and kept a keen eye on it.


It started to crackle almost straight away but I kept it in for about 20 minutes in the end to make sure all of the crackling had crackled. You know when it is done by gently tapping on it and if it has a hollow sound it is done. This was a beauty.


Cantonese pork belly


All of the crackling was super crispy, the meat was soft and full of flavor from the salt and the Chinese five spice.

I served it with sugar and mustard on the side, not mixed, and I actually had to stop myself from eating most of it straight out of the oven.

I didn’t need it for a while so I kept it warm at 90C or 190F in the oven for about an hour.


I think it was the Hairy Bikers who cooked pork belly on one of their shows and they had a trick for cutting the meat up. Turn the pork belly skin side down and then cut it. My squares didn’t look as neat as the original recipe but it is a lot easier to keep the crackling somewhat intact this way, a great tip!









10 Responses to “Cantonese pork belly”
  1. This looks absolutely amazing ! I can’t believe that I posted about pork belly today too ! Great minds think alike !

  2. This looks mouth-wateringly delicious. Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to make up my own Chinese 5 Spice.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Rachelle
      Thank you for stopping by. I have to admit my only regret was not to make a bigger piece!
      It is well worth making your own Chinese five spice, it tastes so much more! 🙂

  3. I go gaga over pork belly ALL THE TIME.

  4. Miss Dinie says:

    Thanks for showing me how to make five spice! I think I’ll get some crackling now!

    • petra08 says:

      hi Miss Dinie
      Thank you for stopping by! Once you have done it I am sure you will never go back to store bought! 🙂

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