Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mushroom Braised Pork


There are several recipes for soy sauce braised pork as I'm aware. One of the authentic Nyonya recipes is 'bak tauyu', which doesn't use spices or condiments, but just light and dark soy sauces, and with a little bit of sugar. Potatoes can be added in for additional ingredient. I remember having 'bak tauyu' and rice as one of my regular meals during childhood.

Another version my late Mom used to cook is 'bak lor'. This version uses large pieces of pork belly braised in water, star anise, clove, cinnamon, light and dark soy sauce and sugar. The meat is braised until very tender and when the layers of fat have softened, giving a melt-in-your-mouth feeling. Then, the pork belly is cut to slices of about 1/2 inch thick and arranged on a plate. The thickened sweet black sauce is then poured over the pork belly slices and this is usually served with cucumber slices on the side and with home made chili sauce. If there's a heaven on earth, this must be it!!!

While 'bak tauyu' is more of a normal daily meal, 'bak lor' holds a higher 'status' in the Nyonya food hierarchy (if there is one) as it is often cooked during functions and celebrations like birthday dinners at home or on Chinese New Year days. Anyway, as cooking is always so versatile, I made braised pork as I like it - kind of combining the two versions. This goes very well with hot plain rice.



Ingredients:

- Cinnamon (about 2 inches long)
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 400g pork belly, cut into 1 inch-thick pieces
- 8 dried Chinese mushrooms (wash, then soak in some hot water for 30 minutes & cut in half if too large)
- 3 hard boiled eggs
- 2 whole knobs of garlic, remove some of the papery outer layer skins, break the knobs in 2 large portions and wash clean
- 1 large piece of dried bean curd skin, wash and soak in water till softens, then tear into pieces
- 1 liter water
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce (or more or less according to preference for saltiness)
- 2 tbsps dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsps sugar

My cooking method is simple. Mix everything in a pot and cook under medium heat. Add some water from time to time if needed if the sauce dries up a bit. Cook until the meat and mushrooms are tender and finally, when the sauce has become thicker and lesser in volume, but not dried up (usually about 1-1.5 hours). Take a final taste and add a bit more sugar and soy sauce if necessary. The sauce should be a little sweet and salty, infused with the taste and smell of cinnamon, clove and star anise.


Cheers,

30 comments:

  1. Really??? I didn't know this hold higher standard you know because my grandma cooks this so often and my mum used to always joke about my grandma, when mum was in her teen days and dating my dad, she said the gravy was so thick that she could barely open her mouth! I like tauyu bak with spices in it better.

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  2. My mother cooks this braised pork almost the same like yours...just without eggs. :-))
    My brother loves this so much. I am the one who usually finishes all the mushrooms.

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  3. very interesting info on the dish... I laughed at Quinns description of gravy being so thick u cn hardly open ur mouth! tht is so funny...but food history and culture is os very interesting. it shows how important food is in a culture. nice work!

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  4. My mum makes this all so often too! Yup, eggs, bean curd and even luncheon meat sometimes! :)

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  5. I want the eggggg...
    I always remember whenever mum or grandma makes this we will be fighting for the egg. haha.. I don't know why.
    Absolutely love this dish!!

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  6. I often eat something similar with plain rice, so yummy!!! :)

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  7. This is a must cook dish for our family during festive season. My mom will add pork, mushroom and sea cucumber to it. The only spices she put in there are garlic and star anise. She will cook a big batch as all of us like it much better the second days. Sometime she will add some extra hard boil eggs to it. Seeing you dish makes me crave for my mom's cooking :(

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  8. my mom is good to cook this dish too, simply Ho Chiak!

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  9. I have really always wanted to cook this. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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  10. My friend also taught me to make this without adding oil but must use a good brand of dark soy sauce. Really delicious!

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  11. Quinn, bet your granny makes a real delicious dish too. She's so adorable!

    Angie, this dish is one of the best home cooked dishes and it's no surprise so many of us love it.

    Zurin, culture always enriches the types of food we know and remember from our moms and their moms and their moms etc

    Bee, wow, your mom's version real loaded. I love luncheon meat in almost anything!

    Tracie, haha..you can have the eggs, I'll take the mushrooms!

    cooking practice, I bet Vietnam has a really delicious version of this dish too.

    Gert, adding sea cucumber is excellent, although I haven't tried it. I only get to eat sea cucumber during CNY. No wonder it's a popular festive dish. I agree, leave it overnight and it will taste better.

    Sonia, looks like most of our moms have cooked similar versions of this dish. Yah, ho chiak!

    Shirley, do cook this and I'm sure you too will love it.

    Anncoo, yah the oil will come out from the pork belly. Yes, delicious!

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  12. I really like your blog's new look, very pretty.
    *kisses* HH

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  13. oh, yum! This pork sounds fantastic! I love the cinnamon, anise, and cloves spices here!

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  14. I was just craving for this dish and now I see this!! Oh yum... really miss it and just need to eat it with rice, then I am a happy person.

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  15. I can simply finish two big bowl of rice with the gravy!!! I love this!

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  16. This is my favourite dish. I always dive for the eggs :D

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  17. I love tauyu bak! So good with rice!

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  18. This is so similar to my mum's version ... making me really hungry looking at it. This dish is perfect with white rice :)~

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  19. So good with rice, I agree! Can this be the filler meat for the Pau too? I remember those pork belly meat (Kong Bak Pau) sandwiched in steamed buns....never had those for a long time.

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  20. So yummy! So delicious! So fantastic, so.....so looong no eat!

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  21. Braised meat is one of my favorites! Looks great!

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  22. Joslynn, thanks for posting this up! It's a comfort food of mine, too ... My mom cooks up a similar dish though she's not Nyonya ... BUT, she's from Malacca! Ha!

    Y'know what, I'm salivating at braised eggs and pork before bedtime ... Ugh! How could you do this to me ...

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  23. What a flavourful & ooh so tasty looking dish!!

    I so love this!

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMM,...lovely food!

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  24. Looks miammmm, enjoyed reading the post, ther ecipe, and I have enjoyed reading the comments too.

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  25. I'll have to say my mom is never a good cook but I love to eat whatever she cooked for us! haha.... She improved alot! =) Her grandchildren love her cooking as well! Hope you have a pleasant evening!
    Sweet dream,
    Kristy

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  26. you guys can hv the meat, the mushrooms, the eggs, the everything but leave the gravy for me...i just love the gravy with hot rice.

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  27. This look really yummy! One of my all time favourites! I love mushroom & pork, superb combination!

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  28. I have this quite often as well and did not know what it is called. it is so yummy. great winter dish too. We add ginger as well.

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  29. I love all the different versions of pork in soy sauce, especially the fatty cuts if the fat melts in the mouth. I like t with hot rice and hot sambal belacan.

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  30. Looks delicious! This is how my wife likes her babi kecap. The mushrooms and tofu skin are perfect complements to the pork.

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