Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Easy Roast Pork in Milk with Crackling Recipe!

...With Buttery Mash, Orange & Pomegranate Rocket Salad too

As much as 2013 is for me about venturing into the working world, it is almost just as much about... Pork crackling.

I have been so obsessed with roasting pork with crackling this year that I've made it 7 times the past 7 months. Including one occasion where my friends and I made a huge, huge batch of it when we were cooking for a charity lunch to feed close to 100 people while raising funds for some non-profit organisations in Melbourne. 

Love crackling but so frustrated when you get crispy crackling but overcooked meat? Or moist meat but chewy crackling? Or good crackling on some parts only? I hear ya...

After so much experimentation, I feel like I've finally cracked it. Pun intended, hur hur... The thing is, I've tried so many methods that people swear by but for some reason, it just doesn't work for me. I then realised that no matter how much people say that they've got "the best roast pork with crackling recipe ever", it may not work for everyone. Everyone's got different ways of achieving the same result. Every method has its own logic and rationale. However, there's so many variables (from the oven, to the pork, to the person itself) that at the end of the day, it really is just about finding one that works best for you.

To date, I have officially made roast pork 12 times. I was ecstatic when my very first attempt 2 years ago turned out so successful. Then, for some reason, I just could not get it right the next 3 times for some damn reason so I stopped for a very long time. I have tried everything since from:
- leaving pork covered/uncovered in the fridge overnight
- taking pork out midway to stab the skin vigorously with fork
- brushing skin with vinegar
- salting the skin few hours before/overnight
- salting the skin just before roasting
- oil or no oil on the skin
- pouring hot water on the pork
- roasting it covered/uncovered in the oven
- scoring the skin/not scoring the skin
- high heat first, then low heat later
- low heat first, then high heat later

I've made so many mistakes and learned from every single one. And nothing annoyed me more than when people say to me, "maybe it's because you didn't leave it in the fridge uncovered overnight". PLEASE.

After reading this post by my good friend Sarah, I was inspired to try again. I think the biggest thing she's pointed out is that the pork really does need to spend enough time in the oven. This is where it gets tricky. You need to roast it long enough that it COMPLETELY crackles, but not so long that your meat dries out. Which is why I thought her method of roasting it covered first at a low temperature, before uncovering it at the end was so clever. It yielded a seriously moist meat while giving it the time it needed.

Most of those methods I've tried made very little difference and wasn't as helpful compared to roasting it longer in the oven. Sure, you could do the usual method of just cooking it at higher temperature, uncovered, shorter amount of time. But this method that Sarah suggested is way more fail proof and reliable for consistent results every time. There are people out there who don't struggle with having good results each time, but I did until I used this method.

And if you're wondering, the main difference between recipes like these and the Chinese Roasted Crispy Skin Pork (烧肉) is that the Chinese version is usually roasted with charcoal until skin is BLACK before scraping off all the burnt bits. This leaves extra smoky flavour in the meat but you get a much thinner but crispy skin as most of it has been removed. I prefer this normal roast pork version more because you get thick, crunchy crackling.

Made this Roast Pork with Crackling and also my easy and delicious Beef Ribs Pasta (recipe: here) for the charity lunch

Yes, that's right... Pork in milk

After much tweaking, I find this recipe to be simplest and highest chance of success. Also, I've adjusted the flavour profile to completely suit my liking. Don't be alarmed when you see milk in the recipe, it actually is quite common to cook pork in milk (brings out the sweetness) and sitting it on a bed of garlic just does magic to the flavours. Plus, I think that the super buttery mash and zesty, fresh orange and pomegranate rocket salad really is my favourite combo to go with the roast pork by far. You'll see that I make it together all the time. Also, I still prefer making this with pork belly instead of other cuts like leg or shoulder simply because of the meat to skin ratio.

I host dinners at my place fairly often and the reason why I LOVE making this so often because it's incredibly delicious and takes minimal effort to cook. Plus, crackling gets EVERYBODY excited, which is why it's such a treat to share with your guests. 

Giving them the joy of seeing crackling on the table, before hearing the loud crunchy sounds it makes when they bite into it and followed by being pleasantly surprised that it's crunchier than they expected. Really is a gift worth sharing. This pork crackling recipe is just so easy that anyone can make it! Why? Because there honestly is close to no cooking involved. Just chuck the things together and whack it in the oven.

So, I hope you give this one a go. Not only because you will enjoy it, but you know that your friends and family will as well.

Good luck!

PERFECT for dinner parties!

Roast pork shoulder... But I still prefer belly

Don't need to score the skin but I just find that it makes it easier to carve

 Easy Roast Pork in Milk with Crackling

(inspired by this recipe by Sarah Cooks)


1 slab of pork belly (1.5kg - 2.5kg)
1 bulb of garlic
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp oil
Cracked sea salt
Fennel seeds (optional)

Note: You can just use 1 cup of milk and omit the wine, if you like


1. Leave the pork skin side up and uncovered in the fridge overnight. Remove from fridge just before cooking and score the meat with lines at 1cm apart.

2. Preheat the oven to 130°C. Place the garlic on its side and slice it directly in half. Place at the bottom of a baking tray. Place the pork belly (meat side down) on top of the garlic.

3. Pour the milk and white wine around the pork, making sure it doesn't touch the skin. 

4. Rub the oil on the skin (helps salt stick). Crack lots and lots of sea salt on the skin until you see a visible layer on top. Sprinkle with some fennel seeds, if using.

5. Wrap the baking tray with aluminium foil, making sure the tray is airtight but doesn't touch the skin of the pork. Otherwise, salt won't dissolve and will form a salt crust instead of crackling.

6. Bake in oven for 2.5 hours. After that, remove the foil and increase the heat to 240°C. Bake for a further 30 minutes or until skin has completely crackled.

7. Remove meat from tray and leave to rest for 15 minutes before carving to serve.

Yes! Moist meat, perfect crackling throughout. Win.

Buttery Mash Potato


5 medium to large potatoes
125g butter
Cracked salt and pepper 

To garnish: Cayenne pepper or paprika


1. Cut potatoes into cubes and boil in water until extremely fork tender. You don't have to peel the potatoes if you don't want to, I rarely do. Am that lazy.

2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return back to the pot. While hot, add in the butter and mash with potato masher or wooden spoon until butter melted. Never actually owned a potato masher.

3. Add milk until desired consistency is reached. If you like your mash thin, add more milk.  
4. Add cracked salt and pepper to taste. Dish in bowl or individual plates. Garnish with paprika or cayenne pepper (for looks).

Orange and Pomegranate Rocket Salad


Rocket leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic or wine vinegar
Cracked salt 


1. Rinse and drain rocket leaves. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate and cut the oranges into segments. Quantity is as you like.

2. Add in extra virgin olive oil and vinegar and mix until salad leaves are lightly coated. Crack a little bit of salt to taste.

3. Mix pomegranate seeds and sliced oranges.

Time to have a crackling party -- CHEERS!

EDIT: Photo above taken from when I made it again for my family for Christmas Day lunch 2013 as seen on my blog post: here

EDIT: Photo added on 23/03/15 from the time I prepared Chinese New Year dinner (full post: here)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Little Hunter, CBD

Hot Buttered Rum - $16
Goslings Black Seal Rum, Spiced Apple Juice, Brown Butter

A Pear of 8's - $18
Ocho Reposado Tequila, Poire William, Pear Puree, Lime Juice, Thyme

Complimentary Herbed Cheese Bread with Chicken Skin Butter

Cured Kingfish, seasonal roe, roasted peppers, bay oil - $16

Lobster Hushpuppies, softened vinegar batter - $12

Pork Crackling, paprika, white cheddar, pepper sauce - $6

Hopkins River Ribeye, bone marrow, beef fat butter - $54

Dry Aged Lamb cooked with olives, crisped belly, parsley, orange - $36

Grilled Cabbage, blue cheese, anchovies, hazelnut vinegar - $9

Frangipane, meringue, passionfruit curd, whole pear sorbet - $15

I found out a few days ago after reading Libby's post (here) that Little Hunter had actually closed down. I decided to go ahead with publishing this post anyway because I had already written it half way and it *was* quite an interesting restaurant anyway so here goes...

My friends Libby, Dave and I had planned this dinner a while ago as we felt like we hadn't caught up in awhile prior to this. We chose Little Hunter mainly because of how interesting the menu sounded. It was meat heavy (good for me) but served in rather interesting ways. I was reluctant to come here for a long time despite hearing so much good things about this place prior mainly due to the price. 

Must say that our experience here was one disappointment after another. Although Lib's hot toddy with butter was delightful, my expensive pear cocktail tasted almost exactly like plain water it was so heavily diluted. Then, the food took so damn long to arrive. 

I don't think any of the entrees lived up to its glowing description as you could barely taste anything it said it was meant to contain. Our steak was good and the beef fat butter did make the steak taste as if you were eating Wagyu. But it was definitely way too rich to eat on your own, especially with the bone marrow. That lamb was unforgettable, but not in a good way. Hands down the worst lamb dish I have ever eaten... In my life. Period. It was so flavourless, mushy and appalling. It was really bad. The waitress had recommended we go with the grilled cabbage with blue cheese and anchovies. When they said grilled, I had no idea it was going to still be 99.95% raw. Which I don't mind since eating raw wombok was better than I thought. Just don't say it's grilled. And make the dressing unbearably salty, which it was. 

Although I must say that the only good thing we had that night was the signature herbed cheese bread with chicken fat butter. That was ASTOUNDING. So flavourful and addictive I could have just that and be content. But that was actually complimentary. What about the rest of our meal? I felt like we paid so much that night too, grrr...

As hard as it may be to believe from how I sound from this post, I really enjoyed my meal that night. But ONLY because I had fantastic company. I place very little emphasis on the food when I'm surrounded by good people at a restaurant. The food took long to arrive but that just gave Dave, Lib and myself a chance to keep chatting away. We were in no hurry and it was a good way to unwind midweek after work. Those guys rock and this post is reminding me that I should organise something with them soon. That said, the place was packed out with people still in suits obviously doing the same thing as we were (which is why I was surprised it had closed down).

Now that everything is done and dusted, I guess Little Hunter will just remain as a distant memory of a place that served food that sounded great on paper but failed to deliver in real life...

Little Hunter on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Where To Go in Adelaide?

So, most of you who follow me on Instagram (seriously, I'm addicted to the thing) would know that I was in Adelaide over the long weekend for almost 5 days. Reason for my visit was so that I could attend my sister's uni expo for her final year exhibition. Mum even flew in from overseas for the occasion to show her support because we know how damn hard she's worked all year. She's doing Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering and it's not easy AT ALL. I did Civil and even I was struggling with that. For her final year project, she built a plasma gun... with a pen. 

We had a GREAT time in Adelaide. Even though it's my 3rd trip here, I always enjoy a short visit to Adelaide. Just spending lots and lots of quality time with one another while exploring some sights and sharing meals together. It's not easy for us to cook over there so we ate out a lot. Hope you don't mind that these photos were all taken with just my iPhone.

We realised that most of the places we went to were pretty nifty so I thought I'd do a recap of our meals in case people need recommendations for where to eat next time they're in Adelaide =)

United Latino Cocina

Housemade Poached Salmon Salad

Ropa Vieja - $17.50
Slow cooked, shredded flank steak with capsicum, onion, garlic and cumin served with black beans and rice

This place was AWESOME. Mum and I found this quaint little Latin American restaurant tucked away in one of the lanes along Rundle Mall in the CBD. So glad we came across this as we were struggling to find a place to have lunch and almost ended up at a food court.

The food was really fresh, vibrant and bursting with flavour. Very reflective of its colourful culture. Our beef with rice was SO good. Portions were massive and very value for money too. 

My impression of the cuisine has severely declined by all the fastfood Mexican type establishments that seem to be popping up everywhere. But this was nothing like that. The place was fun and casual. Great service by the South American staff with Latin music playing in the background. I really do love how one can experience so much of a culture through Food. And this is a prime example of one of those instances.

United Latino Cocina on Urbanspoon


Hot and Sour Seafood Soup - $6

BBQ Honey Pork Fillet - $15.80

BBQ Bean and Pork - $14.80

Lotus Bean Curd with Seafood - $16.50

Crispy Young Chicken in Red Vinegar Sauce - $15.80

I friggin' LOVE Rice! Anytime someone asks me of where I like to eat in Adelaide, I always say Rice. It's a great little Chinese restaurant that serves exceptional food at an affordable price, first introduced to us by a family friend. Most of the dishes are rather creative and you don't find anywhere else too. I've loved this place ever since I first came here in 2010 and my sister still come here about twice a month (lol).

First of all, the BBQ honey pork fillets is a must. Tender, juicy and sweet. Sounds simple but tastes anything but. Everything else here is good so it just comes down to what you like to eat. The chicken we ordered was crispy yet juice amidst a sweet unctuous sauce. Lotus leaf tofu was quite special because it also had a smoky tea leaf flavour throughout the dish. Other dishes I've ordered here in the past which I enjoyed include the cold sliced pork, steamed black bean eel and spring rolls.

Rice Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Sushi Train

You can't come to Adelaide and not visit any of the Sushi Train branches. You just can't. I cannot get enough of this place!! I know I've said this time and time again, but one thing that Melbourne SEVERELY lacks is a good Sushi Train restaurant. And please don't tell me to try Sushi Hotaru in the CBD because I have and my opinion still stands.

Favourite thing about Adelaide's Sushi Trains are the aburi salmons. I always need to order them. This time around they had the aburi salmon volcano ship (i.e. topped with mayo seafood and torched), which was my favourite item this time around. Sounds weird, but their vegetable tempura and avocado slice sushi is great as well. Everyone's got different things they enjoy here so it just depends on what looks good to your eyes (and stomach) that day.

Sushi Train on Urbanspoon

Sushi Train, Grenfell on Urbanspoon


Beach Pizza - $24
Selection of fresh South Australian seafood, anchovy, crispy capers and green olive tapenade

with orange, fennel and goats curd

Crumbed Confit Chicken Wings

250g Grass Fed Scotch - $26
with cafe de paris butter, hand cut chips

Smoked Rainbow Trout - $16
with kipfler potato, asparagus salad, lemon caper dressing

wrapped in zucchini, stuffed with quinoa and tomatoes

Rhubarb and Strawberry, Lemon Trifle with Chantilly Cream - $14

Decided to try this place after a quick search for places to eat on Urbanspoon. Located in the gorgeous beach town of Semaphore, I didn't realise how gorgeous the setting was gonna be until we arrived. The setting was so cool, casual and you can tell that everyone there was having a good time. It was an open air concept, which I liked. The staff was super friendly and funny, which is always great to exchange a few jokes with the staff. You'll also find that the staff have so much fun working there because I could hear them laughing all night, no kidding. 

Food was good overall. Mum enjoyed her steak very much and my favourites of the night were the awesome boneless chicken wings with aioli and also my fish stuffed with quinoa and tomatoes -- divine! The only flop of the night was the pizza because it became really soggy from all the seafood. Price was quite fair as well, I thought. Considering we pay so much more in Melbourne, it's shocking.

A view of the beach, great sea breeze coming in with awesome music playing and awesome service, this was definitely a place I would be happy to hangout every weekend. I need to find a place that's as fun and affordable as this place in Melbourne.

Lickerish on Urbanspoon

Red Door Bakery

Morrocan Lamb and Eggplant Sausage Roll with Housemade Chilli Jam

Beef Angus Pie

Creme Brulee Tart and Lemon Meringue Tart

Red Door Bakery was located just at the row of shops outside my sister's place in Hyde Park, a really lovely little neighbourhood. We stopped by for breakfast one morning.

I really enjoyed my sausage roll but favourite thing about it was the super delicious chilli jam. Onion sweet with deep flavour and the right amount of spiciness. Nice and sticky too. Delicious. Brulee Tart was a fail because the top layer was so burnt which made the whole tart bitter. Everything else was enjoyable. Nice little cafe to enjoy a pleasant Saturday morning breakfast.

Red Door Bakery - Goodwood on Urbanspoon


Selection of Green Juices

Sweet Potato Fries with Aioli - $7.90

The Love Burger - $11

Sweet Chick Wrap - $10

Argo Deli Piadina - $10.50

Portobello Mushroom Piadina - $10.50

Sis took us here because it was a place she recently discovered and enjoyed. They do a wide array of lunch items and there seems to be something for everyone. To me, one of Argo's specialties also include the large selection of green juices, something that's become more and more popular these days. They were clean, healthy and refreshing, perfect for a hot day.

Food was tasty and price is also very affordable here IMO. And sweet potato fries is always a good idea, no matter where you are. A good fuss free lunch option.

Argo Hellenic Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Vietnam Restaurant

A very modest restaurant

Iced Vietnamese Coffee

Combination Soup

Seafood Salad with Prawns, Scallops and Calamari

Grilled Quails

Rice Paper Rolls with Pork Skewers

Vietnam Restaurant is a place that I can almost guarantee that Adelaide locals will take visitors. At least, that's where my friends and I get taken to all the time when we visit. It's so popular.

Why? Because of the signature dishes here. But please be warned that not all the dishes here are good! We've tried a number of the items from the regular menu that's not part of the specials or chef's recommendation and they were quite bad. But, the ones from that specials menu page is great.

The DIY rice paper rolls is a must. Fun to make, delicious to eat. Grilled quails is famous here but I prefer the one from Mabrown in Melbourne. A new thing we tried was the seafood salad, which was awesome! Fresh zesty flavours with a spicy kick. I enjoy the slippery noodles and abundant seafood it had in it. Oh, and do try the Iced Coffee too.

Vietnam Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sabai Cafe

Iced Coffee and Iced Chocolate

Beef Massaman Curry

Open Beef Pie with Mashed Potato

Chicken Pad Thai

Fish and Chips

This was also a place I found on Urbanspoon and wanted to try on our last day in Adelaide. I found it interesting because it was a typical brunch place that also served Thai dishes as well. I realised later it was because the chef there was Thai as well.

First, I really loved my iced drinks here! Tall, refreshing and not too sweet or rich. The pie and pad thai were okay, just average. But the Massaman curry had great flavour. My favourite that day has got to be that Fish and Chips! 

I really liked their take on it by using lots of fresh barra slices (with skin on), instead of one big fillet. Higher surface area of crunch and more enjoyable to eat. Also, the potatoes were AMAZING. One of the best yet, definitely. I actually prefer handcut chips to be soft and mashy in the middle, instead of fluffy, which it was. But best part was that it had so damn much of the crunchy fried bits on the outside. Addictive. They gave a nice serving of pickled red onions as well, which brought balance to the entire dish. I definitely enjoyed every bite of this and look forward to eating this again next time I'm back in Adelaide. Hopefully it will be just as good.

Sabai Cafe on Urbanspoon

Last but not least, I could NEVER leave Adelaide without buying takeaway from Sushi Train to eat at the airport. So delicious. A tradition that must not be broken =)

If you like, you can check out my previous posts on Adelaide (here and here) when I was there for the Eat Drink Blog Conference last here. Cheers!