Siew Yok – Roast Pork with crackling

27 11 2017

Roast Pork, called “Siew Yok” in cantonese, is so readily available in Malaysia that there really is no necessity to learn how to cook it. I am also not a good cook and not even the most discerning foodie and so I’m probably the best person to share this recipe. Basically, anyone can do this if they wanted to. I used a recipe by Mrs Fairly Yee but I have experimented so many times with different meats, ovens, temperature and size of the pork, conditions of the skin, that I am able to add tips that I believe will be very helpful. So we got into learning how to cook siew yok because it’s hard to find it where our children are currently living in the USA. So this was really out of “necessity” :p

NOTE: The first 6 photos in this recipe are the best size of pork to be used. I added these photos to show the marinating process. PLEASE DO NOT CUT THE PORK INTO STRIPS AS IT IS BETTER COOKED WHOLE. The 7th photo is what I actually cooked on the day I took the photo and what was available at the butcher was just the pork strips, so I had to place them together in a pan. 

RECIPE CREDITS: This recipe was created by our friend, Ervinn Siew’s aunt, Mrs. Fairly Yee, who has an entire book of her favourite recipes published but circulated privately. I do not have that book.


In Kuala Lumpur, most people talk about getting it from a butcher in Taman Tun Dr Ismail market. I have never been there but have tasted siew yok made from his meat. I feel that the one I get from Daily Choize at 21 Jalan Radin Bagus 5, Sri Petaling, 57000 Kuala Lumpur; Pearl Pork (珍珠肉) is better.  This is supposedly free from beta agonist and antibiotics. Both of us think like that there is absolutely no boar taint after cooking. This is also a lot more tender although you pay the price for it.

So I normally buy one or two pieces of pork, marinate it immediately upon arriving home, then place them into a zip lock bag and throw them into the freezer. That way I can have roast pork anytime I fancy. I have had frozen meat left in the freezer for up to 3 months without any issues.

2. What you need

For Marinating :

a) Chinese cooking wine;

b) Salt and soy sauce;

c) 5 spice powder;

d) Pepper (optional since there is peppercorn in 5-spice powder already);

e) Garlic – cut into long strips. You will need a minimum of 8 strips. Photo 1 shows the cut garlic strips.

For first part of cooking:

a) Salt (fine and coarse);

b) a sauceplate of water;


a) Turbo Broiler oven – I have used a normal free standing convection oven, a big fan assisted oven and the humble turbo broiler and the best result is from the turbo broiler. I think the focused, concentrated, and evenly distributed heat in a small area works best;

b) 2 Oven Trays of the same size;

c) Tray stand and tray handle.


i) Wash meat and immediately pat dry with kitchen paper towel;

ii) Ensure the skin is clean of hair;

Photo 1 – Ingredients for marinating

iii) Turn the meat around (skin facing down) and scour 2 lines about 1/3 and 2/3 of the width. Do not scour right up till the end – you can see the lines clearly in photo 3 below.

iv) Rub salt, five spice powder, pepper, soy sauce, and chinese wine over the meat. Try not to get any of the ingredients especially the five spice powder onto the skin. Best way is to place ingredients onto the palm of your hand and rub onto the meat a bit at a time. This also ensures even marinating. Go easy on the salt and five spice powder. How much you use really depends on your taste.

v) With a paring knife, make a hole at sides of the meat and push in 1 slice of garlic. Repeat around the meat. Minimum should be 2 holes per side. For a big piece of meat, I also insert into the scoured areas. Refer to Photos 3 and 4. Some people ask why not just marinate the entire meat with chopped garlic instead. Well, I figure that the garlic will then be burnt.

vi) Once done, wash hands, then hold meat up with the skin facing up, use a kitchen paper towel to wipe clean and dry. Then place into a zip lock bag and you can leave it in the freezer till you are ready to cook. If you are cooking the following day, just leave it in the fridge. Remove from plastic bag and leave UNCOVERED in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 5 hours. This is to help dry up the skin. Be careful not to leave it for too long as the skin may be over dried (Fridge burn). Remove from fridge at least an hour before cooking so that the meat is at room temperature.

Photo 2 – Scour lines and how to insert garlic into meat

Photo 3 – inserting the garlic strip into the side of the meat


Photo 4 – inserting the garlic strip into the centre of the meat

Photo 5 – Hold up the meat with the skin face up, wipe clean and place in zip lock bag

Photo 6 – Placing marinated pork into zip lock bag, making sure the skin remains dry and clean


Please note that this photo below (Photo 7) is a DIFFERENT PIECE OF MEAT FROM PHOTO 6 – This was purchased in strips as the shop did not have a block of pork. This is not the best way to cook roast pork but I tried and it still works. If you have a block of meat, DO NOT cut into strips for roasting.

i) Place meat into any baking pan that will fit the meat and which can fit into the oven. Push meat as close as possible and try to push all excess side meat in so that it is UNDER the skin and NOT EXPOSED;

ii) Use fine salt to cover over the skin. If you are worried about the salt falling to the sides, use a spatula to help as a “wall” beside the meat. Then pat down the fine salt to compact it and add more salt so that it is a thicker layer. This is to protect the skin from cooking too early. Refer to Photo 9.

iii) After you are satisfied that every part of the skin is adequately covered, use some coarse salt on top. This is to prevent the fine salt from “flying off” when the oven is on. Almost all ovens come with fan assist now and it can blow off the fine salt. Refer to Photo 10.

Photo 7 – Place the strips of meat as near to each other as possible and do not allow any part of the meat to be exposed.


Photo 8 – Utensils you may want to have

Photo 9 – Cover the skin with fine salt and pat down to compact it, then add more salt to make sure it completely covers and protects the skin

Photo 10 – Use coarse salt as a “weight” to cover over the fine salt so that the fan in the oven will not blow off that layer of salt.


Photo 11 – Meat in center of oven

iv) Put a small sauce plate of water under the tray stand. This is to keep the meat moist while cooking.

v) Carefully place the meat inside the oven, taking pains to ensure it is centralised for even cooking.

vi) Cook at 1 hour at 170 – 175C. For bigger pieces of meat that has a lot of fat, I would add another 5 – 8 mins which means the temperature should be 170C instead. Do not be tempted to increase the heat for a shorter time. The idea is to slow cook it so that the fats will “melt in your mouth”. Note that if your meat is not at room temperature, or if it is a smaller or thinner piece of meat, or if you are using a different oven, you will probably get different results. The timer has a maximum of 1 hour, so if I need to add time, I normally add it back to a full hour after 10 mins to make sure I don’t forget.

Photo 12 – 1 hour timer at 170 – 175C

Photo 13 – Meat is cooking! Phase 1

vii) Remove from the oven when the timer goes off. Remove the salt from the meat carefully so that it doesn’t “stick” onto the meat or you will get a VERY salty piece of roast pork. If you do not want to use the excess lard from this first cooking, just remove the bigger pieces of salt and then just brush off the remnants.

viii) Carefully remove the meat from the tray and place into the second clean tray. Observe the level of the skin. Most of the time you will have to place something underneath to raise part of the meat. The more level the meat is, the better the crackling. Refer to Photo 16

Photo 14 – Removing salt completely from the skin and sides of the meat

Photo 15 – Using tongs and a brush to flick off the fine salt



Photo 16 – Place cooked meat back into another pan for crackling the skin – you may have to place a small spoon underneath to ensure the skin is evenly exposed to the grill

viv) Place back into the oven carefully and again, ensure the meat is centralised. Temperature will be at a maximum of 250C. Set the timer to 10 mins but keep watch. Adjust the meat the moment you notice a pooling of oil on the skin because of unevenness. Keep readjusting the position of the tray if necessary. If the crackling is even and completely done, remove immediately from the oven and leave to cool down on some kitchen paper towel to absorb excess oil. I suggest you do not cook for more than 15 mins for this part even if not all the skin has crackled. Prolonged grilling will cause the crackle to be too hard. You can see from Photo 19 that this particular piece had some parts right in the centre that did not crackle but it’s better to have that than to have the entire crackle hard as stone.

Photo 17 – Into the oven for round 2 – 10 mins at full 250C


Photo 18 – Watch with expectations!!


Photo 19 – Remove from oven to cool down before cutting



Photo 20 – Pour and store excess oil from the baking tray into a glass jar to be kept for future use – this is great for wantan mee!


Some say he is Malaysia Best Clown, Children comedian – Ventriloquist

4 12 2012

Some say he is Malaysia Best Clown, Children comedian - Ventriloquist

Looking back to my early days as an entertainer brought back many precious memories. Entertaining as a Clown, Magician, Puppeteer and Ventriloquist in Malaysia has brought much joy to many young lives. Some say that I am the best puppeteer, ventriloquist and clown in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Selangor and some say Malaysia. I think so too! Hahaha!

Father’s Day with Uncle Allan

9 07 2012

Hoi An, Vietnam – Accommodation at Ha An Hotel

5 03 2012

After a very long break from blogging, I felt I really should do something about this travel blog I started so many years ago. The wonderful time I had in Hoi An was an added incentive. I wanted to share the beauty of the wonderful place and people. At the same time, I wanted to offer some tips to my fellow Malaysian travelers so that you wouldn’t be shortchanged.

We managed to get highly discounted air tickets from Air Asia when they introduced Danang as a new destination last year. My base fare was less than RM20 per pax (one way) but with additional luggage, seat and other fees, we dished out about RM200+ per person (return); still a fantastically good deal. A year prior to this, I thought of visiting Hoi An but the thought of flying to Ho Chi Minh City and then transferring to another airline to fly to Danang put me off. When Air Asia stated the direct flights to Danang, I was so excited!

Hoi An is located about 30-45 mins (by road) from the Danang International Airport. One of the first things I learnt was that Hanoi (North), Danang (Central) and Ho Chi Minh City (South) have totally different wet and dry seasons. Its very important to research the best months to travel. I’d say the middle of Feb is probably the best time; with the rainy season over, but the heat of summer not started yet.

We were there from February 20th to the 24th, 2012. 5 days and 4 nights may be 1 night too long unless you plan to have your clothes and shoes tailor made. 

You have a choice of staying in the vicinity of the old town or near the beach at Hoi An. Of course some people opt to stay at Danang and take a day trip to Hoi An. 

We decided to pamper ourselves at the Ha An Hotel, a small boutique hotel and had no regrets. The cost was USD55 per night if we paid cash and a bit more if we used the credit card. This hotel is one street away from the market and tourist area of the old town, thus it is quiet and peaceful enough. Exactly our cup of tea.Image

When you arrive, you don’t wait at the reception for them to finish their paper work. They seat you comfortably, offer you a welcome drink, fresh towels for your face and hands, biscuits, and fruits at this beautiful patio just outside their restaurant on the right wing of the hotel. So you register in comfort 🙂



The hotel is not big, but warm and comfortable. Made this trip with our good friends, Andrew and Yvonne.


The left wing of the hotel houses a spa. Didn’t try it out though.


Non-garden view rooms are not big but the service is really good.


So what do I mean by good service?

Well, for one, they have 4 bath towels, 4 face towels, not including the normal floor mat, etc. So they change the towels for you in the morning, and at 4pm, they come around again. We were out, and had used the towels in the afternoon after lunch. I took great pains to hang them up properly but they changed the towels again!

They also switched the air conditioners on so that we would have a cooled down room when we returned. Most hotels want you to switch everything off, so this is a first for us 🙂



Coffee/Tea cups, as usual, with the coffee and tea bags……


But something new are the crockery, cutleries, wine glasses, wine opener, knife, and peanuts everyday 🙂Image

There’s also the daily refill of our fruit basket, (which accounts for the knife) and two cookies a day. Now these may be really small matters but it makes a lot of difference in our perception of their service.

Then there is the WONDERFUL buffet breakfast every morning!



To be honest, whatever Vietnamese food you want to try at the restaurants outside are available at hotel for breakfast!Image

The spread includes Vietnamese and Western food



This is also the first hotel I’ve been to that has MILO!!!!! hahahahah, I’m always bringing my own Milo wherever I go cos I can’t drink coffee or tea. We also ended up ordering ginger tea, ginger drink, etc. All part of the buffet.

So USD55 per pax? Really worth it!

They are not listed on normal hotel websites, so just go directly to their website and make a booking there. The skeptic in me made me call them just to ensure our booking was in place and was pleasantly surprised to be attended to by someone who spoke reasonably good English AND had knowledge of our booking!

So we have booked two rooms for next Jan when we go again, and because we are booking so early, they promised us the same rates for the same rooms, hahaha!

May 1st, 25 years ago…..

16 05 2011

I walked into the school hall like any other school day, except it wasn’t.

I was all dressed up and felt like a princess – I was getting married, and at my alma mater. It was the perfect choice. We had so many guests that our church hall would not have been able to contain them all. That, plus the fact that my husband is unashamedly radical!

Honestly, I was quite taken aback at his suggestion. I guess I am a square peg in a square hole. You can be sure there were a lot of “buts” from my side but Allan was his usual “Why not?”. Yes, why not indeed? Radical plus practical won the day. The hall was big enough for all our guests (more than 500), the parking was adequate, the canteen was ideal for the reception and the columns….oh those gorgeous columns for the photographs! I’m not sure, but it might have been that last bit that won me over 🙂

So it was 25 years ago, I walked down the aisle to be married to Allan Yong, my soul mate, best friend, father of our children and partner for life through the grace of God!

As we celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary this year, I decided to keep my promise to Sow Yoong to get this article out. Yes, finally, procrastination lost!

I am proud to proclaim that I am the only BBGS girl who got married at her school and I am so thankful to have a husband who was radical enough to suggest it!

My earlier performances at the school hall – I’m the girl in pink, 1st from the left

There were quite a few other performances in this same hall, but my biggest performance of all….

Was on my wedding day!

Wonder what happened to that big school badge that used to hand above the stage?

It was legal alright, and I have the papers to show for it

Decorating the hall the night before. It was very hands on with us making the cut outs of doves and the letters.

Full house in the hall

This was one time I walked past the staff room with no fear nor felt the need to keep quiet!

Ok, I’ll admit we didn’t have time to decorate the canteen nor hide the pots and pans away, but I can assure you that we are much more meticulous and organized today at event management.

See what I mean about the columns?

Allan and I want to write about how God has been so good to us and we had planned on getting it done for our 25th anniversary but I don’t know if we will be able to get that done this year,….. well, there’s always the 26th anniversary 🙂

Day 3 – Lake Toba – Leaving beautiful Tabo Cottage for the Tele mountains

7 02 2011

This picture will give you an idea of where we were on Lake Toba. We crossed over on the ferry to the north east part of Samosir island to a place called Tuk Tuk.

Our adventure with the magic mushrooms finally ended by dinner time. Our group was served dinner at a pavilion. Dinner included delicious home made pumpkin soup, fish, vegetables, chicken with …… arhhhh….. MUSHROOMS! It was a simple but delicious meal in a gorgeous setting. Although I love mushrooms, I just could not make myself take one that night – it was just too soon after our earlier escapade!

It was wonderful just sitting there, chatting and relaxing; taking in the beauty of the place.

The next morning, we decided to stay longer at the hotel and cancelled the trip to the waterfall.

Although the lake was beautiful, it definitely looked less brilliant compared to the moments when we saw the lake through the eyes of the “magic mushrooms” trip, hahaha!

Did I mention that there is free wifi at the Tabo Cottages?

Breakfast was a fusion of western and eastern food. I particularly enjoyed the homemade buns.

My mom had a bathroom that made her take her bath in a hurry!

We finally left the hotel at around 11am. About 10 minutes after leaving, a call came from the hotel – we had left our laptop bag WITH the laptop at the hotel. We so blessed to have stayed at a place with honest people.

It is not unusual to see graves strewn all over the place. Each family buried their dead on their own land, next to their homes, some on their padi fields. We were told by our guide that this was the wisdom of the elders. Apparently the Bataks like to gamble. Having a grave on the land was a safeguard against anyone trying to sell his land to settle gambling debts.

As you can see, some of the graves looked better maintained than their own homes!

The white patch on the mountain is the hot spring.

We finally crossed back to the mainland and headed to the Tele mountains. It is a very scenic drive. The only set back is the badly maintained roads

The bridge crossing over to the mainland

You really should not miss going to the Tele Mountains. I would suggest that after visiting the place, you BACKTRACK to Samosir island and go back to Medan via Parapat instead of going on to Brastagi. The roads after Tele mountain is terrible. This stretch here on the way to the mountain is bad enough but it gets WORSE after that! There are stretches when we were traveling at 10kmh. At one point, I saw a signboard saying “51km to Medan” but my joy was short lived as it took us more than 2 hours to travel that last bit!

A view to savor, but DO head to the mountains early. The place gets really misty after 2pm. Our guide told us that nobody wants to drive on these treacherous roads after 6pm.

We had a nice cuppa at the little shop behind us

One of the joys of homeschooling is that Andrea gets to go for holidays anytime we want.

How a Malaysian Chinese Family celebrates the Chinese New Year

3 02 2011

Happy Chinese New Year 2011

We are Malaysians, were born and bred in Malaysia. Our forefathers came from China many, many years ago and settled here. Although we only know of Malaysia as home, we practice many rich and meaningful Chinese cultures because our parents taught us what they learnt from their parents. In the same way, we want to pass these precious practices to our children and our children’s children.

One of the things that we really enjoy doing is to shop during for new clothes and shoes for the Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year. This tradition probably meant a lot more for our forefathers many generations ago. Most of them were poor and could only afford a new set of clothes once a year and they would try to get that for their children even if they could not afford it for themselves. Of course it is a tradition that is conveniently kept by us now, especially if we love shopping! We try to get something for our children every year, so they are very blessed indeed.

The eve of the Chinese New Year is a very important day as all the members of the family returns to their parent’s home. The gathering together of the clan is a joyous occasion. There is a great dinner that night. Allan and I will go to the market a day before and start preparing for the meal by 3pm. Every year my mom will join us and we try to invite some others who do not have their families in Malaysia. Allan is a great cook and I am great at washing up and setting up 🙂 I think we make a great team!

Allan’s famous “pak cham kai” – “white chicken”

Good food makes people happy!


Another very important culture we maintain at home is the giving of ang pows which is done with a tea ceremony. On the first day of the Chinese New Year, our children will serve us tea and give us a blessing. We then give them an ang pow (money packet) and give them a blessing in return. If your family has never done this, you should try it.

Just before the tea ceremony

Andrea preparing the tea

Serving tea to dad

And then to mom

After that, we leave home to visit family and friends. We visit those who are senior in rank.

The delicious “siew yok” at one of my uncle’s home.


Enjoying my Bak Kut Teh – all the way from Klang, no less.

Sweet desert

My mom and my grandaunty

We only buy new clothes for the new year – my uncle buys a new car for Chinese New Year!