This recipe was inspired by a friend’s comment several years ago, when we were eating a glutinous-rice-stuffed suckling pig that was the speciality of a Cantonese restaurant I no longer go to (it’s gone downhill). My friend, who’s from Malaysia and who prefers stronger flavours, complained that the filling was too bland, and said it would be better with fried shallots and chilli paste. I disagreed about the chilli paste – it would overwhelm the dish – but thought the fried shallots were a great idea. I added some XO sauce and spring onion to the glutinous rice filling and loved the results.
Boneless suckling pig stuffed with glutinous rice and XO sauce
This is an easy recipe, but the results are impressive. The hardest thing about making the dish is finding a boneless suckling pig of a reasonable size. If your butcher doesn’t have one, use a nice, large piece of skin-on pork belly. You may need to trim the meat horizontally, cutting parallel to the skin, so the meat and fat make an even, not-too-thick layer; if there’s too much meat and fat, there won’t be enough room for the stuffing.
You’ll need a meat spike – a scary-looking hand-held tool with metal spikes that are sharp and sturdy enough to pierce pork skin. You can find these at the kitchenware shops on Shanghai Street, in Kowloon. Also, you need an oven that can cook at 60 degrees Celsius. The pig takes about five hours at 60 degrees, before browning at a higher heat, so give yourself enough time for cooking. It’s not required, but using a digital meat thermometer to monitor the interior temperature of the pork will make your life much easier – it will beep when the roast is ready.
You can use home-made XO sauce (see above video) or a good-quality commercial brand.
1 boneless, headless suckling pig, about 1.5kg (or use a large slab of pork belly that’s about 35cm x 25cm)
225 grams glutinous rice
75 grams long-grain rice
300 grams XO sauce
40 grams fried shallots
40 grams spring onion, minced
Fine sea salt
If you’re using pork belly, lay it skin-side down on the cutting board. Use a sharp knife to trim away some of the meat/skin so it’s an even layer about 2.5cm thick (if it’s thicker than that, you’ll need to use less stuffing).
For both suckling pig or pork belly, lay it skin-side down on the cutting board. Sprinkle salt fairly generously over the meat, then put it into a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning (assuming you’re serving the pig for dinner), cook the rice. Put the glutinous and long-grain rice in the pan of a rice cooker (or in a saucepan, if not using a rice cooker). Weigh the rice in the pan (so you’ll have an idea of how much water to add later). Wash the rice several times. Drain off as much water as possible. Again, weigh the rice in the pan – it will be heavier because of the water. Add more water so the total weight of the water is 560ml (add a little more if the rice is old). Leave to soak for two hours, then cook it until done.
While the rice is cooking, put the XO sauce in a small colander set over a bowl and drain off as much oil as possible.
When the rice is ready, stir it gently with a rice paddle and cool until tepid. Mix in the XO sauce (the oil can be used to stir-fry vegetables), fried shallots and spring onion.
Lay the suckling pig (or pork belly) skin-side up on the cutting board. Use the meat spike to poke many holes into the skin – this takes some effort. Use paper towels to dry the skin, then turn it over so the skin side is down. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Lay the glutinous rice filling down the centre of the suckling pig/pork belly. Roll the meat around the filling to fully enclose it – the sides of the pork should meet at the centre – then tie it in several places with kitchen twine so it’s secure.
Put the suckling pig/pork belly seam-side up on an oven rack with an oven tray below it to catch drips. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat – take care that it’s not inserted into the stuffing. Place the roast in an oven that’s been pre-heated to 60 degrees. Let it slow cook until the pork reaches an interior temperature of 60 degrees (about five hours, or longer if using pork belly because the meat is thicker). Remove the roast from the oven. Heat the oven to 220 degrees.
Place the roast back in the oven and let the underside (the seam side) cook until it’s brown and slightly blistered. Turn the roast over so the seam side is down, and brown the top of the roast. Carefully turn the roast over to brown the sides so the skin is evenly crisp. If necessary, use a propane (or butane) torch to crisp up any parts of the skin that haven’t browned sufficiently.
Let the roast rest for about 15 minutes, then remove the kitchen twine. Some of the rice filling may have been squeezed out – remove it and place it in a bowl to serve on the side. Cut the meat into thick slices to serve.
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