Hawker-style roast pork (Siew Yuk)
There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t miss having one of Singapore’s hawker centres at my door step. Day or night, whatever the time, there’s a hawker centre or coffee shop open where you can get fed for under £2. When i was little, my mum would go to the wet market every Sunday to do the weekly shop in a place called Ghim Moh. I’d always ask for the same lunch, rice with barbecue or roast pork. Every Sunday, she’d ask if I wanted to try something different but my answer was always the same…
I’ve lived in the UK now for almost 15 years and I’ve gotten better – I will try different things for lunch 🙂 – but I still can’t get into habit of having sandwiches, especially when a sandwich lunch can set you back almost £5!
I managed to get by when we lived in London with Chinatown just a short tube ride away. London’s Chinatown is amazing. It has some of the best Cantonese restaurants I’ve ever been to. When my mum visited us for the first time and we went to Chinatown, even my mum said that some of the dishes were better than what she used to have in Hong Kong and Singapore; coming from my mum, that’s high praise indeed!
Seeing all the roast duck, roast pork and barbecue pork hanging enticingly from the front restaurant windows in Chinatown is as close as I can get to the hawker experience here. I had no idea how much I’d come to depend on London’s Chinatown until we moved to Surrey. What, what do you mean there’ll be no more nipping out for a £5 plate of steaming rice/noodles served with crispy roast pork belly or char siew (BBQ pork for the uninitiated…)!?!!
So, my recipe for this Chinese roast pork was borne out of sheer desperation and necessity but, hey ho, it was a blessing in disguise because it’s also one of the recipes I’m most proud of.
If I’d never left southeast Asia; if I’d never left London, I’d never have bothered to learn how to make this dish myself.
I still miss the convenience of hawker centres but when I take this pork out of the oven and cut into crackling so crisp and crunchy it shatters, it’s easy to transport myself back 30 years tucking happily into my little packet of rice and pork heaven. So why not try this as an alternative roast this Sunday and give it the Chinese treatment? Here’s how.