Secret Recipies with Julie Tran

Only the best will do: Jacob Lim, 11, likes to select his own meat from the butchers before cooking his crispy pork belly.
Only the best will do: Jacob Lim, 11, likes to select his own meat from the butchers before cooking his crispy pork belly.

FOR Jacob Lim, his earliest memories are in front of searing hot flames.

Ask the 11-year-old anything with the word barbecue and the food connoisseur will go into intricate details about how to perfectly cook a piece of meat.

The budding scientist loves the mechanics behind cooking.

Not yet a teenager, he can already start a fire on his own.

Quite impressive considering those in his age group, and plenty of adults, still find it difficult to be handy around the kitchen.

A huge influence in Jacob's appetite for cooking is the time he spends with his father, David.

Together the pair have mastered the art of marinating and cooking succulent lamb sticks, juicy chicken wings, and even steaming freshly caught pippies.

Although Jacob's most recent pride and joy is crispy pork or siew yuk, as it is commonly known in the Chinese community.

Siew yuk literally means "burn the meat".

It was fifth time lucky for the primary school pupil who crafted the recipe by watching YouTube tutorials.

Here Jacob fuses the traditional way of cooking crispy pork belly on a charcoal spit and combines it with the European influence of adding thyme for flavouring.

Jacob took on the mammoth task of making pork belly for 20 members of his extended family.

He ventured down to his favourite local butcher — New Dong Khanh in Cabramatta — and bought four kilos of meat to suit the occasion.

Then it was a matter of air drying the pork belly overnight to extract that desired golden blistered pork skin and to guarantee that wonderful crunch.

Instead of scoring the meat, Jacob prefers to prick holes on the skin to let all the juices come to the surface.

With his hands, he covers the pork skin with olive oil and generously sprinkles salt all over.

The thyme is then placed in the middle of the meat and wrapped with the spit's stick.

The spit is left on the barbecue under Jacob's watchful eye, for three hours.

He said it was vital not to let the meat's skin burn and that within 10 minutes, the welcome relief of crackling would appear.

After the cooking, the trick is to set the pork belly for half an hour to ensure the skin is crunchier. Jacob likes to serve the main dish as little squares with hoisin sauce as dipping.

As a badge of honour, Jacob enthusiastically says he'd been burnt three times, although thankfully, they were all superficial wounds.

Jacob Lim — the next Heston Blumenthal.

Do you know a budding child chef? Or can your child whip up a gourmet treat? Submit your story to Julie Tran,


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