Secret of the “Five-layered, Charcoal-roasted Pork Belly”
As with “Yue Kee”, “Chan Luk Kee” is one of very few traditional restaurants in Hong Kong still allowed to cook with a charcoal stove. Pork belly roasted with charcoal from Indonesia is incomparable, and its taste cannot be matched by restaurants using modern cooking methods. When you take a bite of the pork belly, you can hear the loud crackling of the skin. Beneath the crunchy, dark red “sesame skin” is a layer of fat, followed by a layer of lean and savoury meat, a piece of chewy cartilage, then a layer of tender meat which provides a memorable taste. Naming this roast pork belly “five-layered” is not just a gimmick: it truly contains five layers of pork, each with a distinctive texture. After years of rigorous training by his father, Chan now picks only the best quality pork belly, and even sets a standard for the meat-to-fat ratio: “The ideal ratio is one-third fat to two-thirds lean meat. Excessive fat makes it greasy, while too much lean meat makes it dry and chewy,” Chan explains.
Before putting the pork belly into the charcoal stove, the flesh side is marinated overnight in a sauce consisting of coriander, shallots, thirteen spices powder, sesame sauce and other spices — while the rind is generously sprinkled with cooking salt. The roasting takes place in three stages: the first roast softens the thick and firm skin, after which the chef pricks small holes in the skin and rubs extra cooking salt all over. During the second round, the rind crisps up, forming a nice crackling; the rind is now a little charred, as the strongest heat is applied during this stage. The chef scrapes away this charred skin and any bristles. In the final round, a coating of lard is applied to the pork belly; when this drips onto the fire, the meat is showered in sparks, and the skin is roasted to a delicious golden colour. Now, finally, the “Five-layered, Charcoal-roasted Pork Belly” is ready to be served.