Vietnamese Crispy Pork Belly (Thit Heo Quay)

Video heo quay origin

Thit Heo Quay, or Vietnamese Crispy Pork Belly, is an explosion of flavor and texture in every deliciously tender bite! Skin-on pork belly is seasoned and baked to perfection before being placed under the broiler for a crisp, bubbly texture. It’s made with just 7 ingredients and perfect for every occasion!

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  • ???? What Is Thit Heo Quay?
  • ???? Ingredients
  • ????????‍???? How To Make Thit Heo Quay
  • ???? Top Tips
  • ???? Storing & Freezing
  • ???? Recipe FAQs
  • ???? Looking For More Vietnamese Recipes?
  • ???? Recipe

???? What Is Thit Heo Quay?

Also known as Siu Yuk in Cantonese, Thit Heo Quay is a classic Vietnamese dish with origins in China. In Vietnamese, thit means “meat”, heo translates to “pig”, and quay is “roasted”. So all together, thit heo quay transaltes to “roasted pork”.

Traditionally in Thit Heo Quay, thick slabs of pork belly are roasted at high temperatures to allow the skin to dry out and fat to melt. The result is crisp, crackly, bubbly skin with delectable crunch that contrasts the amazingly juicy and tender meat underneath. There’s an abundance of flavor and texture in every slice!

An Easy Family Favorite Dinner

Vietnamese Crispy Pork Belly is commonly found at Chinese-Vietnamese restaurants or BBQ take-out restaurants in Chinatown. My parents would often buy a pound or 2 on the way home from work. It’d be a quick and satisfying addition to our favorite side dishes like Vietnamese Garlic Noodles (Mì Xào Tỏi) or Vietnamese Chayote Squash with Beef (Su Su Xao Thit Bo).

Flavorful and impressive Vietnamese Crispy Pork Belly is a super easy recipe that consists of just 7 ingredients for a sweet and savory taste. Dry the pork overnight in the fridge for maximum crispiness, then roast and broil the pork for a show-stopping centerpiece. It’s a favorite at family gatherings, holiday parties, weddings, and every occasion in between!

Why You’ll Love It

  • Versatile: This easy Vietnamese Crispy Pork Belly is flavored with classic Asian seasonings. So it’ll pair well with just about anything – from Roasted Carrots and Green Beans to Vietnamese Crispy Pan Fried Noodles (Mi Xao Gion) to Bibimmyeon (Korean Cold Spicy Noodles).
  • Affordable: Pork belly is one of the more affordable cuts of meat. When paired with just 7 simple pantry staples and baked in the oven, it makes for a super easy budget-friendly meal!
  • Great for crowds: With the standard recipe serving 6-10 people, Vietnamese Roast Pork is a great option for feeding a large number of people. Both kids and adults love it!

???? Ingredients

  • Pork belly: Thit Heo Quay uses skin-on pork belly that is sold in a large singular slab. Although you may be able to find it at your local grocery store, your best bet is to visit an Asian grocery store or specialty butcher shop. Also, try to find pork belly that’s as even in height as possible and has the same thickness of meat, fat, and skin. This will allow for even cooking. Otherwise, some parts of the pork are likely to burn while others will remain rubbery.
  • Rice wine vinegar: The acidity of the vinegar helps cut through some of the richness and heavy flavor of the fat from the pork.
  • Salt: You’ll need two types of salt for this recipe. Regular (fine) salt to season the meat and coarse salt to dry out the skin in the initial roast. Large rock or coarse salt is best so it’s easy to remove and won’t soak into the skin to make it too salty.
  • Chinese five spice: A staple in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. This spice blend features star anise, ground cloves, fennel, Szechuan peppercorn, and cinnamon for a warm and fragrant flavor.
  • Paprika: Instead of making Thit Heo Quay spicy, it adds smokiness and vibrant red color to the meat.
  • Garlic powder: Fresh garlic cloves can burn quickly so I like to use garlic powder for oven roasted recipes like this salted crusted pork belly, Gochujang Salmon, and Bang Bang Brussels Sprouts.
  • White granulated sugar: Just a touch to helps level out all of the flavors. It creates the perfect balance of savory, salty, and sweet.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Rice wine vinegar vinegar can be replaced with an equal amount of lime juice, apple cider vinegar, or mirin.
  • Add additional flavorings with onion powder, dried coriander, white pepper, soy sauce, or dried ginger.
  • Instead of white sugar, you could use brown or coconut sugar in its place.

????????‍???? How To Make Thit Heo Quay

⬇️ Please scroll down to the recipe card to see full ingredient amounts and instructions.

STEP ONE: First, prepare the pork belly by making long cuts in the meat about 2 inches apart. Make sure you don’t cut into the fat, only into the meat.

Then use a sharp paring knife to score the skin. Create shallow hatch lines without puncturing into the fat, or else the liquid fat will bubble up onto the skin and prevent it from crisping. I’ve found a sharp knife works best, but you could also use a fork, metal skewer, or anything sharp to create tiny holes all over.

STEP TWO: In a small bowl, combine the Chinese five spice, paprika, garlic powder, sugar, and ½ tablespoon salt. Rub seasoning all over the meat, making sure to cover the sides and cuts as well.

STEP THREE: Flip over the pork and wipe off any excess seasoning that’s on the skin and pat dry. In a small bowl, whisk together rice wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. Brush all over the skin.

STEP FOUR: Now, get ready to dry brine the pork belly. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack inside. Place the pork belly on top of the wire rack and let sit in the fridge uncovered for 24-48 hours. The fridge will dry out the skin for maximum crispiness while “marinating” the meat.

Wrapping pork belly in foil before roasting.

STEP FIVE: Let the meat sit on the counter for 1-2 hours to reach room temperature before roasting. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Unroll a sheet of foil that’s large enough to wrap the meat. If your pork belly is uneven in height, place additional foil under the thinner portions to get it as even in height as possible. Wrap the foil around the pork belly, leaving the skin exposed and creating a ~½ inch border on top.

Covering pork belly with skin and after inital roast.

STEP SIX: Put the wrapped pork belly back onto the wire rack. Then pour coarse sea salt all over the skin, creating even coverage. Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until internal temperature of the meat is 140-150ºF.

STEP SEVEN: After the initial roast, carefully transfer the wrapped pork to a clean surface. Unwrap the foil and scoop all the coarse salt off, discarding both. The skin should be more yellow and rubbery.

Place the pork belly back onto the wire rack, then broil for 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it – cover any parts with foil that are charring too quickly and rotate the pan every few minutes. Also keep the area well-ventilated (the fat will smoke as it hits the hot baking sheet). Then let the pork rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

???? Top Tips

  • It’s important to plan ahead and allow your pork belly to dry brine for at least 24 hours. This is crucial to creating a tender, juicy center and crisp, bubbly skin for the perfect Thit Heo Quay.
  • If you don’t want to create hatch marks on the skin, you don’t have to. The skin can still become golden and crispy with just the dry brine and salt layer. However, it won’t have the signature puffy bubbles that’s traditional in Asian Crispy Pork Belly.
  • Be mindful of how deep you’re cutting into the skin! You’ll want to make sure the cuts are very shallow. If you slice into the fat, it’ll soak the skin while roasting, preventing it from achieving the crisp texture we want.
  • Pork skin is tough and rubbery. For even and precise cuts, make sure to use a sharp knife or else you’ll risk cutting into the fat. You could also use special tools like an ice pick, sharp metal skewer, jaccard, or meat thermometer – but a sharp knife will be best.
  • If the pork belly is uneven in height, use foil, vegetables, a wire rack, or any oven-safe item you have on hand to lay under it, getting it as close to even as possible.
  • There will be quite a lot of fat sizzling while the pork bakes. So, be sure to turn on the fans, keep it well-ventilated, and be extra careful when turning it around or removing it from the oven!
  • It’s crucial to let your salt crusted pork belly rest for at least 10-15 minutes once it’s removed from the oven. This allows the juices to redistribute through the meat, making it extra tender and juicy once sliced.

What To Serve With Vietnamese Crispy Pork Belly

Thit Heo Quay is sweet, savory, crispy, and fatty. Traditionally, pickled vegetables like kimchi are served alongside it to cut through the fattiness.

Since this dish is so versatile, you can serve anything with it! My family usually enjoys it with white rice and vegetables to enjoy its classic flavor. Thit Heo Quay would also taste great with Vietnamese Flat Rice Noodles with Beef (Hu Tieu Ap Chao), Watermelon Beet Salad, or Vietnamese Egg Omelet (Trung Chien).

???? Storing & Freezing

Storing: Once cooled, you can store leftover Thit Heo Quay in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing roasted Vietnamese Crispy Pork Belly as it’s likely to lose its crispy texture and become slightly soggy once thawed.

Reheating: When you’re ready to enjoy, reheat slices of pork in the toaster oven or air fryer at 325°F for 4-6 minutes or until warm.

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Vietnamese Crispy Pork Belly (Thit Heo Quay)
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