I have no idea how I ended up cooking this for dinner tonight, but gosh I’m glad I did. This dish (in hokkien is called tau yew bak – literally translated, soya sauce pork) is one I haven’t had for maybe 20 years and the cool thing is eating it took me right back to when I was a little girl and my mum made it for me.
I think I just fancied some comfort food, and this dish, which is essentially pork belly that is stewed for 2 hours in a combination of soya sauce and spices like cinnamon and star anise, is warmingly melt-in-your mouth tender and is yummy served simply with rice.
Living in Singapore, I also tend not to cook Chinese food because access to top notch Chinese food is so easy here. And there is also the variety of different Chinese cuisines, from Hokkien or Peranakan (which is my heritage) to Cantonese (which is what I grew up with in Sydney), to Hakka, Peking, Hainanese…you name it.
The problem with eating out is that it’s tough to get brown rice unless it’s at some organic, vegetarian, peace-loving-type restaurant, and the most authentic food is just not served in places like this. My palate has been trained to like white rice with Chinese dishes, so my recipe below might be ridiculously simple, but it was a way for me to enjoy eating rice, with a 50% good component with the mix of brown rice. I just had to get over one of the basics of cooking rice – not to stir it around, ending up in mushy rice – and working out the logistics of different water and time ratios of cooking the two types together.
The recipe below is my rough guide on measurement – it’s a forgiving dish and doesn’t need to be precise so add more or less to taste
Ingredients makes enough to serve 4
- 300-400g pork belly, cut into 2cm strips
- 4-6 cloves garlic
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 star anise
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbl Chinese five spice powder
- 1/4 cup dark soya sauce
- 2 tbl light soya sauce
- 2 tbl sugar (or to taste)
- 1-2 cups water
- 1-2 hard boiled eggs
- Blanch pork in boiling water and cook for 5 minutes to remove any impurities. Drain well. Discard the water
- In a claypot or a saucepan, heat up some oil and add the pork, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns and five spice and fry until fragrant and the pork has browned
- Add the soya sauces and sugar and bring to boil for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens and the sugar begins to caramelise
- Add the water, bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to a gentle simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Again the amount of sauce is personal. Some like it sticky and almost dry (me), some like it with quite a lot of sauce
- About 30 minutes before serving, add the boiled eggs
- Serve with rice and vegetables
- For my mix of 50/50 white/brown rice, add 2 cups boiling water to 1/2 cup of brown rice and simmer for 25 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup of rinsed white rice, stir, cover and simmer for an additional 20 minutes