Chinese style pork belly bacon (Siu Bak) sous-vide

Friends came to eat and I wanted them to try the pork belly in a vacuum, but I didn't have time to make the typical “perfect” recipe — in brine for 2 or 3 days and 36 hours at about 60ºC.

 Although I usually use low temperatures when cooking under vacuum, nothing prevents the bathing of water at a higher temperature and reducing the time.  Usually the same tenderness and texture are not achieved, but after all the traditional methods use even higher temperatures.  So I consulted the tables of Modernist Cuisine, which propose different combinations of temperature and time for each cut.  For the bacon the one that best suited me with the time I had was 18 hours at 70 ° C.

 For the brine he only had one night.  One option would have been to increase the salt concentration, but I remembered having read some recipes of the Chinese version of the roasted bacon (Siu Bak) that what they were doing was marinating it in spices one night, in addition to getting a spectacular crispy skin.  A search in the blogs that I follow returned me a few interesting entries, and given the time constraints this came that neither painted: Sous vide roast pork belly: perfecting it, which in turn took me How to make Sio Bak (Chinese Style Crispy  Roast Pork Belly).

 Putting it all together I came to the recipe that follows.  However, I made two mistakes, fortunately unimportant: I had the bacon boned, and I ordered a small piece (half a kilo).  Both things caused it to crumble a bit when cut, and instead of being nice given was the disassembled version you see in the photo.  Of course, equally great.


 1 kg of pork belly

 10 g of salt

 5 g freshly ground white pepper

 2 g of a mixture of five Chinese spices are not always the same, in this case the bag listed seven ingredients: cumin seeds, coriander, dried tangerine skin, Sichuan pepper, star anise, licorice and cinnamon

 White Rice Vinegar (optional)


 Two days before we started making tiny holes all over the surface of the skin.  I used the tip of a bridle needle.  The holes should be shallow, only in the skin, without getting through it.  These holes then help the steam to escape and dry the skin forming the characteristic bubbles of this recipe.

 Then we mix the salt, the white pepper and the five spices, and spread them all over the surface of the meat of the bacon, if they touch the skin.  Wrap in plastic wrap or vacuum packed and leave overnight in the refrigerator with a weight on top to make it as smooth as possible.

 The next day we put the water bath at 70ºC, we packed the bacon in vacuum (if we did not do it the night before) and, when the bath reaches the temperature, we put the bacon and leave it 18 hours (or 22 like me, to  not having to get up at four in the morning ...) Depending on the time we have and the texture we are looking for we can use 6 hours at 76ºC or even reach 36 hours at 60ºC.

 When finished, we quickly cool in cold water with ice and take out of the bag.

 The next step is to dry the skin to brown it and make it crispy.  We have two dehydrators at home.  You did not know?  The fridge and the oven.  If we have time, we dry well with paper towels and put in the refrigerator without covering for at least one day.  If we do not have time, we turn on the oven at 50ºC with heat up and down and, if it has, forced convection.  We introduce the bacon with the skin facing up and leave the oven door slightly open.  We can also spread a little salt on the skin to help it dry.  We keep this way for at least an hour.

 In many recipes, but not all, now brush a little white vinegar on the skin's surface.  I am not sure about the reason, so I leave it as optional.  I did.

 Finally, we took the bacon if we had it in the oven, and put it in grill mode at maximum temperature.  We wait at least twenty minutes and reintroduce the bacon with the skin facing up, until it roasted.  Small bubbles have to come out all over the surface.  The skin may become blackened, turning black.  No problem, then we would remove the black part by rubbing with a knife.

 To cut it we put it with the skin down on the table, first cut the meat and then, with a dry blow, the skin.  Some people cut the meat cold before browning the bacon in the oven, leaving the whole skin, since the meat cuts better cold.

 The unctuousness of the bacon at (in this case not so) low temperature that melts when you bite it, the little spice of the spices, and the crispy skin produce a cluster of wonderful sensations in the mouth.  The dish is not for every day, but it is worth taking pleasure from time to time.