Braised Pork Belly 扣肉

Braised Pork Belly

Spices and soy sauces turn this versatile meat into a tender and aromatic dish that melts in the mouth.

Braised Pork Belly

There is some version of a pork belly recipe on just about every continent and in every cuisine. Maybe not in Arctic and Antarctica, unless pigs fly… and have thick fur. Until then, we have crispy pork belly, roasted pork belly, barbequed pork belly, boiled pork belly – you get the picture. And of course, there is bacon! Clearly this is not for the regular menu if one is being careful with the diet. But it sure makes the occasional indulgence oh-so-delightful.

Prepared in Shanghai-style with spices and braised over a simmering fire, the meat fairly melts in the mouth. When left overnight, the spices infuse the meat even more. I would always cook double the amount just so that there is enough to be left over. The extras are kept in the pot, left on the stovetop and brought to a boil once a day, either in the morning or evening. The pot is then left untouched till it is ready to be devoured, sometimes 2 or 3 days later. The smells that fill the house are just heavenly. If you are fortunate to wake to the smell of braised pork belly on the stove, you just might think you are in heaven!
Braised Pork Belly

Many recipes for Asian-style braised pork belly require 1-2 hours of braising, with some variations in preparation. They are all excellent – the longer the meat is braised over slow heat, the deeper the tastes. I prefer recipes that are easy and relatively fast to make, given the limited time I have at the end of a day. This recipe can be prepared in just over an hour, yet does not compromise on flavour. To get that melt-in-your-mouth goodness, some fat is essential. Now is not the time to look for lean cuts. Lastly, you will want to serve this one over white rice. Brown rice detracts from the full flavours.

Recipe adapted from Munch Ministry

Braised Pork Belly
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sides
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1lb / 500g pork belly
  • 1 cup fried beancurd ('tau pok' 豆泡)
  • 1 bulb garlic, cloved and smashed
  • 4 stalks spring onion, cut into 2" sections
  • 2" ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 star anise
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine 绍兴酒
  • ½ tsp 5-spice powder
  • 4 eggs
Instructions
  1. Blanch pork in boiling water for 2-4 minutes to get rid of debris. Allow to cool, then slice into ½" pieces.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a pot. Caramelize sugar over medium heat.
  3. Add pork and continue stirring, coating pork pieces with caramelized sugar. Turn up the heat slightly.
  4. When pork is lightly seared, add both soy sauces, cooking wine and 5-spice powder. Cook for about 30 seconds.
  5. Place the remaining ingredients, except the eggs, into the pot. Add enough water to cover.
  6. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45-60 minutes. Allow the gravy to reduce and thicken. The pork should take on a rich brown colour. Stir occasionally. Add small amounts of hot water if gravy becomes too thick.
  7. For Japanese ramen-style egg: Completely immerse eggs in boiling water for 7½ minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in iced water for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the shell.
  8. Serve with steaming white rice with an egg.
Notes
This is an adaptation of true Shanghai-style braised pork belly. I have added fried beancurd which soaks up sauces and flavours deliciously.

Additionally, I am partial to ramen-style eggs (which have a softer yolk). Alternatively, place peeled, hard-boiled eggs into the pot for the last 20 minutes of cooking in Step 6. The eggs will be infused with the rich braising sauce. (Unfortunately, I have forgotten to place the eggs in the bowl before taking the photos!)

 

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