Roasted pork belly marinated with five-spice and preserved bean curd

Roasted pork belly marinated with five-spice and preserved bean curd

Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong
Stuart Scott

The marinade for this dish was inspired by a suckling-pig roasting house I visited in Chau Doc. They receive 40 orders for their suckling pig each day. I spent half the day there to see how it was all done — and what an experience it was! The pigs are slaughtered, marinated, hung until the skin is dry, then roasted in enormous wood-fired ovens at insanely high temperatures for one and a half hours. It was the most tender pork I have ever tried, and the crispy crackling was just unbelievable. I am actually salivating just thinking about it.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg pork belly, on the bone
4 cubes preserved bean curd
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 tablespoons annatto oil, (see note)
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sesame oil
steamed jasmine rice, to serve
bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced, to serve
light soy sauce, for dipping


  1. Briefly dip the skin of the pork belly into boiled hot water, taking care to keep the flesh out of the water. Clean the skin by scraping the surface with a knife to remove the outer layer; the skin should be a consistent white colour. Wash the skin, then, using a large sharp knife, score the skin in either parallel lines or a criss-cross pattern.
  2. Combine the preserved bean curd in a mixing bowl with the bicarbonate of soda, corn flour, ½ teaspoon of the  five-spice powder, 1 tablespoon of the annatto oil and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Mash together well, then rub the mixture evenly over the pork skin.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining five-spice powder, annatto oil and salt. Mix together thoroughly, then coat the pork meat with the mixture, massaging it in well.
  4. Place the pork in a dish, then cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or overnight for a better result.
  5. Preheat the oven to 250°C. Put the pork in a roasting tin, skin side up, and roast for 20 minutes.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C and roast the pork for a further 10 minutes. Brush the skin with the sesame oil and roast for a further 20–30 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through.
  7. Using a cleaver or large heavy knife, chop the pork into 2cm pieces. If your cleaver won’t chop through the bone, cut the meat off– the bones, then chop it.
  8. Serve with jasmine rice, and small separate bowls of sliced chilli and soy sauce.


  • Annatto seeds, also called achiote, add a golden colour to foods such as pork, chicken or rice. Annatto seeds and oil are sold in Asian and Indian food markets. If you can only find the seeds, you can use these to make annatto oil. Heat 1 tablespoon annatto seeds in a saucepan over low heat with 125 ml vegetable oil. Heat just until the oil begins to shimmer; don’t overheat or the seeds will turn black. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, then strain the oil into a jar. It will keep for several weeks in a cool, dark place.
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