Savour the quintessential flavours of Vietnam with Luke Nguyen's recipe for melt in the mouth roasted pork belly with crisp skin. Wrapped in lettuce leaves with loads of fresh herbs, vermicelli noodles and nuoc cham for dipping, it makes a perfect snack or appetiser, or serve with steamed rice as part of a shared meal.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (20 votes)


  • 1 kg pork belly, on the bone 
  • 4 cubes preserved bean curd 
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) 
  • 2 tsp cornflour (cornstarch) 
  • 2 tsp five spice 
  • 2 tbsp annatto oil (see Note)
  • 2 tsp sea salt 
  • 2 tsp sesame oil 
  • steamed jasmine rice, to serve 
  • bird’s-eye chilli, thinly sliced, to serve 
  • light soy sauce, for dipping

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 1 hour

Briefly dip the skin of the pork belly into boiled hot water, taking care to keep the flesh out of the water. Clean the skin by scraping the surface with a knife to remove the outer layer; the skin should be a consistent white colour. Wash the skin, then, using a large sharp knife, score the skin in either parallel lines or a crosshatch pattern. 

Combine the preserved bean curd in a mixing bowl with the bicarbonate of soda, cornflour, 1 teaspoon of the five-spice powder, 1 tablespoon of the annatto oil and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Mash together well, then rub the mixture evenly over the pork skin. 

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining five-spice powder, annatto oil and salt. Mix together thoroughly, then coat the pork meat with the mixture, massaging it in well. 

Place the pork in a dish, then cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight for a better result.

Preheat the oven to 250°C. Place the pork in a roasting tin, skin side up, and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C and roast the pork for a further 10 minutes. Brush the skin with the sesame oil and roast for a further 20–30 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through.

Using a cleaver or large heavy knife, chop the pork into 2cm pieces. If your cleaver won’t chop through the bone, cut the meat of the bones, then chop it. Serve with jasmine rice, and small separate bowls of sliced chilli and soy sauce.

• Annatto seeds, also called achiote, add a golden colour to foods such as pork, chicken or rice. Annatto seeds and oil are sold in Asian and Indian food markets. If you can only find the seeds, you can use these to make annatto oil. Heat 1 tablespoon of annatto seeds in a saucepan over a low heat with 125 ml vegetable oil. Heat just until the oil begins to simmer; don’t overheat or the seeds will turn black. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, then strain the oil into a jar. It will keep for several weeks in a cool, dark place.