At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Monday, June 30, 2014


Another U.S. holiday is coming up. This may surprise you, because the American capitalist classes are known for not wanting to give the serfs any slack, but we'd probably string the bastards up if they didn't give us off for July Fourth. Which celebrates our independence from tyranny.

What could be more American, on July Fourth, than crispy roast pork belly? Or, as you may know it, thịt heo quay (Vietnamese), cheui pei sui yiuk (Cantonese). Liyempo in Tagalog, or barriga de cerdo asada.
It is considerably better than burnt hotdogs.
Great in a burrito.

[脆 cheui: crispy. 皮 pei: skin, rind. 燒 siu: roast, barbecue. 肉 yiuk: meat, by which is almost always meant pork, unless some other animal is named.]

The recipe below uses terms like "a little", "some", "approximately", and other imprecise specifications. This presumes you know how to cook.
Feel the pork skin, be the pork skin.


Two LBS pork belly.

½ tsp salt.
3 tsp sugar.
1½ tsp five-spice powder.
½ tsp pepper.
1 tbsp 花雕 (fine rice wine).

Rinse the piece of pork belly well. Heat a little water to boiling in a shallow pan, put the meat skin side down in there to blanch; most of the flesh should be well clear of water. This will tighten the skin. Take it out, let it dry skin side up for an hour. Stab the skin very many times with an ice-pick. Flip it over, and jab at the meat fiercely with a knife to make shallow thin gashes. Mix the ingredients for the marinade together, and thoroughly rub it into the meat and the sides, keeping the skin clear. Place the pork meat side down in a dish with the rest of the marinade, rub some vinegar and a pinch of salt over the skin.

Place it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. This will dry out the skin, while the marinade flavours penetrate the meat.

Remove the meat from the fridge, and put it on a rack over a pan of water, skin up. Rub a little more vinegar into the skin. Preheat the oven to 400 - 425 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 220 degrees Celsius), then bung the whole arrangement in to roast for forty to forty five minutes.

At this point the skin should be fairly crispy, but you can stick it under the broiler till the optimum degree of crispy-crackly has been achieved; the skin should be bubbling.

Take it out, let it cool for twenty minutes or so, and chop it up.

Serve it with rice and sploodge Sriracha, or roll it into a burrito with some crunchy herbs and vegetables, rice, and re-fried beans. Add salsa and a dash of soy sauce for extra goodness.

You will have noticed that I specified 花雕 ('faa diu'), which is a yellow rice wine from 紹興 ('siuheng'), a prefecture in 浙江 ('jitgong'), which you may know as Chekiang Province. That isn't very American, is it?
But if you're like me, you probably have a bottle of mediocre Bourbon somewhere in the apartment (look under the bed), and that works just as well. Besides, it's good for you; grows hair on your palms.

花雕 can be used in lieu of Vermouth if you're making a Manhattan. It's not as strong a flavour, rather more like sherry, and a bit sweet. Manhattan Cocktails are VERY festive!


Years ago, Savage Kitten and I would celebrate the Fourth by going to the top of a nearby hill, and watching the fireworks. I fully expect that she'll be off celebrating with her boyfriend, however, and I have no plans to do anything special. I'll probably head off into Chinatown for bittermelon and pork over rice, or something.

If I have any cheui pei siu yiuk at all, it will most likely have been from the Kam Po on Broadway and Powell. They do a stellar rendition, and the chap with the cleaver speaks not a word of English.

['Ngo hou jung-yi fei yiuk!' (粵語:I really like fatty meat!).]

No, I shan't be cooking. Bugger the effort. It's just me.
It would be a pointless waste of time.
Happy Fourth.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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