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Crispy Chinese roast pork

Hi. I ordered some crispy Chinese roast pork in Chinatown a few days ago for DH. This is the pork with the crispy skin as opposed to the BBQ one. The guy asked me lean or fatty. Nobody has asked me that before so I just said fatty. I got pork that was about 50 - 60% fat -- didn't look that appetizing and DH didn't really like it. What are you supposed to do with it? Do people really munch on chunks of fat or do you put it in other food where the fat kind of melts into the dish -- though I'm not sure how much of this fat will melt.

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  1. Personally I feel that the lean is better, since even it will have a layer or two of fat in it. In my family's (and my) opinion the really fatty pieces are not the good pieces.

    1. Yeah, you eat the fat. Of course, you generally only eat 1 or 2 pieces of that.

      You can also take the leftovers and use that to stir fry with snap peas or some other vegetable. It'll tend to melt down a bit and flavor everything nicely.

      Personally I ask for the ribs. There's more bone than some people like but the flavor is much better.

      1. You eat the fat with the crispy skin, that's what it's there for.

        1. By all means, eat the fat, but it's better when it's still a bit warm.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ricepad

            You obviously don't eat a pound of the stuff, but you eat it for the contrast in texture as well as the flavor of the burnt skin. This is similar to chicharrones in latin cooking and cracklin's in southern cooking.

          2. Thanks for your responses. I cut a lot of the fat out (but definitely not the crispy part) and made fried rice with it for DH's lunch this morning. Luckily since there was so much fat on it, I didn't have to add any extra oil. I think I'll buy lean next time.

            1. Next time, you can try asking for something like "half-half" or lean. I prefer the ribs too.

              13 Replies
              1. re: tarteaucitron

                I did indeed receive some ribs. Well, he asked. This was the first time I've been asked all of these questions. When I've ordered this in the past, they just gave me lean/no ribs. Perhaps it's because DH (who's Chinese) was right next to me.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  If you have access to any Filipino groceries, see if you can find "Lechon salsa". This is not a tomato based salsa; instead, it's a cooked liver sauce which my Chinese wife's family always serves with any type of crispy skinned pig. Crispy skin, unctuous fat, and sharp salsa - great combo!

                  1. re: KevinB

                    the most popular version of the Filipino pig/Lechon sauce is "Mang Tomas"; looking for this name will make it easy to spot in the grocery aisle. I agree, it goes terrific w/ either the crispy or sweeter bbq version of chinese roast pork. It is also the perfect add-on to pork banh mi sandwiches!

                  2. re: Miss Needle

                    The belly portion with the half-half fat to lean with the ribs is the prized piece of the roast pig. Only a little bit of this on each pig. So, if it's not to your taste, please don't buy that section, as others appreciate it more.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Don't worry -- more ribs and fat for you and others who like it. I don't think I'm a fan of eating fat as much as some of the other hounds here. And DH who's a bigger fat fan than I am thought it was just a bit too much for him as well. And he's a huge fan of bone as well, but thought the amount of fat was too much to justify eating it. I don't feel fat is my enemy (eg. prefer dark meat over white meat in chicken). I just have issues with sinking my teeth into soft pieces of fat (crispy skin-fat is OK), with the only exception being luscious foie gras.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Hey Melanie, sorry to bump up this old thread, but I was wondering -- how exactly do you ask for the section you're referring to when ordering a portion of roast pig from your standard Chinatown BBQ place, whether it be in English or Chinese? (Besides just pointing to the part you want, I guess.)

                        I've had decent luck just asking for them to cut from "close to the belly." Then today the server at Oakland's Cafe 88 came back and asked me if I wanted it on the bone/rib or not. I said yes, and it ended up being a decently fatty and crisp section, just a little bit of bone.

                        1. re: abstractpoet

                          "Boon fei sow". This old thread on the San Francisco Bay Area board might help you.

                          But really, usually you have to wait until the carving of the whole pig gets to just the right place and then jump in with your order. Sometimes the cutter is willing to cut away other parts of the pig to get what I want, but that's not typical. The other tip is to go to those places that only roast the belly portion.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            ...or he could print out 半肥瘦 (Yale: bun3 fei4 sau3) and show it to them.
                            (I pronounce 'half' as "poon" with a definite p initial sound rather than "bun" or "boon")

                            1. re: huiray

                              My transliteration would be Cantonese pronunciation, as abstractpoet and I are both in SF area where these stores are Cantonese owned. Thanks for the characters and phonetics.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                But of course, and I wasn't trying to "correct" you. My transliteration is also Cantonese, but the specific (sub?)dialect I grew up with, for the 'poon'. I assume "Yale pronunciation" (though it is an older system) is known to you.

                          2. re: abstractpoet

                            Cool. So that'd be "ban4 fei2 shou4" in Mandarin, then. Literally "half fatty, half lean." That's good to know.

                            Anyway, I'm not SO particular -- I just really hate it when I get the extremely lean/dry section, which, at least in my experience, seems to be the default if I don't say anything at all.

                            I've not found the folks taking my order to be resistant when I request "close to the belly," though admittedly it's often when ordering at a restaurant or calling in a takeout order. So I'm not actually watching where they're cutting from. But I've been happier with what I end up getting.

                          3. re: Melanie Wong

                            Indeed lots of folks far prefer Chinese roast pork (siu yoke; 燒肉 ; Yale: siu1 yuk6) with fat and pork, especially the belly+ribs region as you explain, with alternating layers of fat and lean - oh, plus the crisp skin of course. As Melanie asked, folks who do not like it - please do avoid buying that type and leave it for those who do. :-)

                          4. re: Miss Needle

                            I usually buy the ribs and I eat the fat.

                            I usually like to cook it with shrimp paste. It gets very addictive.

                            Another way is to use dark soy and sugar.

                            I saw it on a menu once cooked with Crab Roe.

                        2. When I was a kid I hated the fatty meat, now that I'm much older and wiser I love the contrast in the crispy skin with the fatty meat. The lean pork is too dried for my liking.

                          1. I don't know of anyone ever who when ask that question, says fatty. Everyone I've ever known, from HK to LA to SF, says lean. But yes there are people who crave the fat, and who don't have cholesterol problems (or they never check). You can always eat the crispy skin (which is probably the highest in fat content anyway), cut out the fat, and eat the lean meat.

                            2 Replies
                            1. You must have gotten the really fatty part. Lucky for you that generally the fatty parts have the crispiest skin. When it's that fatty, I just toss the fat. I usually ask for the part of the the rib section that is called the short end in bbq joints. It has the best combination of crispy skin and edible meat.