Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow


When I visit the local kopitiam, I can’t help but stop and stare at such hawkers (like in the above photo). It’s fascinating to watch them cut up the meat with their ever-sharp cleaver, and they are really quick (I wouldn’t dare attempt such a feat at home, lest I loose my fingers!). Is it an inherited skill?

  1. NCK says:

    It looked like roast pork on the hook and the chopping board. For roast pork to be desirable, the skin must be crispy. Unfortunately in Klang Valley, you don’t always find the skin crispy but rather hardened. From what I found from some culinary websites, the whole skin area of a chunk of pork to be roasted must be repeatedly pierced with a bundle of needles before the pork is roasted. The more the skin is pierced, the crispier it will be.

      • NCK says:

        I’d try the roasting If I could find the bundle of needles for the piercing. I’ve looked around but this thing is hard to find. A pin frog (or needle holder, that people use as the base for arranging flowers), if I could find one, might do the job efficiently, but I’m afraid I might have to push harder with it and the skin and meat might be damaged.

  2. Mano says:

    It’s either ‘Siew Yuk’ or ‘Char Siew’. I know that either both or one of them is roast pork belly but, who cares, they both taste great. Again and yet again, the most scrumptious are from Ipoh! Here in Oz, I have to drive to Sunnybank about a hundred k’s away to get some and they don’t even come close:(

    • NCK says:

      Mano, ‘char siew’ is barbeque pork and ‘siew yoke’ is roast pork. Both terms are Cantonese. (‘Char’ means a skewer. ‘Siew’ means burn, although the meat is actually roasted. ‘Yoke’ means meat.) It is understandable that these meats are hard to come by in Australia. In Klang Valley, roast pork itself is quite salty, and some vendors even top it with extra salty gravy for good measure, as if their customers have lost the sense of taste and need an extreme dose of salt to taste anything. Barbeque pork is fine though.

  3. sk says:

    Hi Mano, You dont have to drive 100 km to get Siew Yoke.
    I learnt from my NZ & Oz friends to make Siew Yoke.
    I was at an Ex Andersonian house in Wellington when he showed me
    how to roast a simple Siew Yoke.
    First get a belly side, rub salt on top of the skin,
    roast it at 200 to 240 Celsius for 30 minutes & wahla, wahla, you get a crispy Siew Yoke.
    You have to watch the oven every now & then that it doesnt get burnt.
    Others may have different style & different variation which I have tried but this is the simplest.
    Have you heard of Briyani Siew Yoke ? They claim its the first in the world in Jalan Dutamas, K.L.

  4. Mano says:

    Thank you for the recipe, sk. I’m hopeless in the kitchen but I’ll get the wife to give it a go:)
    Briyani Siew Yoke? What a brilliant idea! Perhaps a Briyani Char Siew even!

  5. NCK says:

    I suppose what sk has described is a Western style of roast pork. Rather simple. I hope it gives the kind of crispy skin that we expect of ‘siew yoke’. There must be many ways to roast pork (Western, Chinese, etc) to be discovered on various culinary websites.

  6. Ipoh Remembered says:


    Here in Oz, I have to drive to Sunnybank about a hundred k’s away to get some and they don’t even come close:(

    I guess you must be north-west of Sunnybank; whereas there are a couple of decent Malaysian restaurants in the Gold Coast.

  7. Mano says:

    Ipoh Remembered, I live south of Queensland near the New South Wales border. Yes, there a couple of M’sian Chinese restaurants at the Gold Coast – ‘River Penang’ situated at the Robina Shopping Centre and ‘Fast Wok’ at the Q Centre, Mermaid Waters. Of these two, River Penang might have changed it’s chef as I don’t find it as tasty as before especially when it first opened. Fast Wok standards are pretty much up there and constant. However, you can’t get Char Siew (BBQ Pork in Oz) or Siew Yoke off the chopping block anywhere here in Gold Coast. Hence, the drive to Sunnybank!;)

    • Ipoh Remembered says:

      Dear Mano … I was thinking particularly of Ipoh Town, also at Robina. I’ve had their char siew and it was good. I have no idea if they still have it on the menu but you can call them to find out (o7.5593.3845).

    • Ipoh Remembered says:

      And if you’re ever in New York, try Kopitiam on Canal Street in Chinatown. The owner is Malaysian, albeit from Penang rather than Ipoh. His parents were accomplished cooks, Baba and Nyonya, respectively, and that’s the cuisine he serves.

      • Mano says:

        Perhaps I had gone at the wrong hour but ‘Ipoh Town’ was a terrible disappointment I’m afraid. That’s why I did not mention it. I will try ‘Kopitiam’ the next time I’m in New York. It’s the company you’re with, you know. The last time, we were only looking at the inside of bars and the bottoms of beer mugs!

  8. sk says:

    NCK – for piercing the skin. I used my BBQ Set skewer which have sharp ends on both sides. If not use something sharp like a pointed end of a stainless steel heavy Duty Scissor. I asked one Roast Pork seller & he told me he used an improvised hammer with stainless steel nails. A heavy duty stainless steel ice pick can do also.
    I have also tried applying the Pork belly skin with vinegar & leaving overnight in a fridge. It took a longer time to roast ( 2 – 3 hours ) but the end result was a crispy pork skin. To prevent the pork skin from curling, you need to cut the edges of the pork skin. Some like to put ” Ng Heong Fun” ( 5 spices) but that is optional. I didnt. Hope this helps.

    • NCK says:

      Hi SK, wouldn’t a skewer or an ice pick leave large cuts or holes on the skin? Some websites say you can make do with a knife, to a less satisfactory result, if you don’t have a bundle of needles. I suppose your seller friend does it by smacking a modified hammer that has nails attached (perhaps by welding) to its striking face on pork skin to make nail-sized pierce holes. Quite ingenious, especially if he had to roast the whole animal.

  9. sk says:

    NCK- Your are right on my Roast Pork Seller device. You got the details right up to the books. You have a good engineering mind. Yes, the Sharp ends of Scissor did give large cut & the skewer not that large but the result did give crispy cackling skin. Just be careful not to piece deep.

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