'The Cantonese Kitchen' – barbecued pork crackling with prawn, plum and truffle

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The three main skills found in a Cantonese kitchen (roasting, dim sum production and wok cookery) are all represented in this incredible bite-sized morsel. Crunchy pork belly skin is spread with a prawn paste and gently fried, before being served with a plum sauce and shaved truffle. It's a tricky recipe to master at home, but a fascinating insight into just how much work can go into such a small dish.

To learn more about the thought processes and cultural significance behind this dish, read Mukta's article.

First published in 2020




Pork skin

Prawn filling

Plum sauce

To finish


  • Meat hook
  • Electric fan
  • Meat mallet/tenderiser
  • Food mixer fitted with a dough hook


Rub the pork belly all over with 2 teaspoons of the bicarbonate of soda and leave for 30 minutes. Mix the final teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda with enough rice vinegar and lemon juice to make it fizz and then neutralise, then use this to ‘wash’ the pork belly all over
Season the meaty side of the pork belly with salt, sugar and five spice powder, then hang the belly with a meat hook in front of a fan for 24 hours (the time may differ depending on the humidity of the room)
The next day, preheat an oven to 150°C/gas mark 2. Place the pork belly in the oven for 10 minutes to further dry out the skin
After the skin is dry, prick the skin all over with a spiked meat tenderiser – this will stop the skin from puffing up like Western-style pork crackling
Turn the oven up to as high as it will go – the oven Andrew uses at his restaurant will reach over 400°C, but home ovens should reach around 250°C
Place the pork belly in the oven and roast until the skin is charred and blackened. The amount of time this takes will depend on the temperature of your oven and how thick the meat is, so you will need to keep an eye on it
Once the skin is blackened and charred, remove the belly from the oven and scrape off the char. Brush the skin with vegetable oil then return it to the oven to crackle up the layer underneath and to reduce chewiness. This should take around 1 hour, and when it is ready it should look something like the image below
  • vegetable oil, for brushing and frying
Brush the skin of the pork belly again with vegetable oil and hang for 45 minutes to cool. Carefully remove the skin from the meat (which can then be used in other dishes), then cut the skin into 5x2.5cm rectangles. Place in an airtight container until ready to serve – any leftover skin you don’t use for this recipe will freeze well
For the prawn filling, place all the ingredients apart from the spring onion and ginger into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook or kneading attachment. Place the spring onion and ginger into a bowl of water and squeeze them to subtly infuse their flavours into the water
Turn the stand mixer on and beat the ingredients until combined into a paste – do not use a blender for this as the proteins will not bind together. Once a paste forms, add a little of the ginger and spring onion water and mix to combine
Tip the paste out onto a chopping board and start chopping using a sharp knife until you’re left with a smooth paste with no lumps. Use this paste to coat the bottom of each rectangle of pork skin – you want the prawn paste to be about 1cm thick. There will be lots of leftover mixture, but this can be frozen and used to fill dumplings at a later date
Coat the prawn side of each piece in sesame seeds, then set aside until ready to cook
For the plum sauce, mix the ingredients together and set aside
Pour a generous amount of vegetable oil into a wok and heat it to 150°C. In batches, gently lower the pork and prawn parcels into the oil and cook for a minute or 2 until golden all over, using a spoon to constantly rotate them for an even colour
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
To serve, season the parcels with salt. Put a dollop of plum sauce on the base of the plate and top with a parcel, then finish with shaved truffle

After a tour of the kitchens and restaurants of China, Andrew Wong returned to his parents' restaurant in London and transformed it into a temple of regional Chinese cuisine.

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