You’d think that, with a name like that, there’s nothing but pork and soy sauce in this dish. But, no. Add garlic, ginger, cinnamon, star anise and five-spice powder to light and dark soy sauces for the most richly flavored dish.
Yes, it’s braised. Mostly. But that’s not the only step in cooking this dish. Before braising, an uncut slab pork is seared in oil. After braising, the pork is cut into cubes, returned to the pot and simmered until the sauce is thick.
Searing prevents the formation of scum during braising. It also adds a layer of flavor as the natural sugars in the meat caramelize and form a crust on the surface of the pork.
Searing is not exactly Asian style cooking. If you want to do it the Asian way, drop the slab of pork in a pot of boiling water and leave it there for about ten minutes. Scoop out, rinse then braise.
Exercise patience because the meat requires long and slow cooking. The wonderful aroma that will float around the kitchen might whet your appetite so much and tempt you to lift the pork from the sauce before it’s ready but you have to resist the temptation because the meat requires time to soak up the complex flavors of the spices and soy sauces.
Braised pork in sweet soy sauce (tau yew bak)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 kilogram pork belly - uncut
- ¼ cup dark soy sauce
- ¼ cup light soy sauce
- ¼ cup rice wine
- 6 cloves garlic - pounded
- 1 two-inch knob ginger
- 1 one-inch piece cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 cups bone broth - you may need more
- 6 hard boiled eggs - shelled
- roughly chopped cilantro - to garnish
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok.
- Lower the pork in the hot oil and brown all sides.
- Pour in the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and rice wine. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise, five-spice powder, peppercorns and about a cup of broth.
- Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half or until the pork is tender.
- Scoop out the pork and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into two-inch cubes.
- Strain the sauce and reheat. Taste and add more light soy sauce or sugar, or both, if needed.
- Add the pork cubes to the sauce. If you want eggs with your pork, now is the time to add them.
- Cook the pork (and eggs) in the sauce until the sauce reduces to no more than a couple of tablespoonfuls.
- Transfer the meat and sauce (and eggs) to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro (or scallions) and serve hot.