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Braised Pork Belly (Lu Rou / 滷肉)

Saturday, 24 May 2008

I have always wanted to go to Taiwan as I have the impression that Taiwan is full of delicious food. Everyone keeps going on and on about the yummy food you can get there in Taiwanese drama series and entertainment shows. One of which I hear most often is Lu Rou Fan (肉飯). I was curious so I did some research and came up with this recipe. 'Lu' basically means braising. According to Wikipedia, it involves the use of soya sauce, Chinese wine and caramelised sugar. I made this once a year or two ago and we loved it. I was a bit skeptical about adding peanut butter in it, so I ignored that. The taste was great without the peanut butter. I had some leftovers, so I added a bit of peanut butter and ate it with ramen, it was awesome! The peanut butter made it very fragrant and it helped to thicken the gravy giving it a really rich texture. Jeff couldn't tell that I added peanut butter and only found out when he read my recipe. I cooked this again yesterday and this time, I added peanut butter to the whole pot!
  • 500g pork belly - cut into cubes
  • Chinese mushrooms - cut into cubes
  • Hard boiled eggs (optional)
For braised meat sauce (滷肉汁):
  • ½ cup shallots – finely diced
  • ½ cup garlic – finely diced
  • ~5 slices ginger
  • ~ 2 stalks spring onion
  • ~1-2 tbs rock sugar
  • 1 tsp Five spice powder
  • ½ cup Shaoxing wine
  • 1/3 cup light soya sauce
  • 1 tbs peanut butter
  • 2tbs Caramelised sugar (糖色) (instructions in 'Comments' section)
  • Sauté garlic and shallots with oil in a pot until slightly brown.
  • Add in ginger and continue frying until fragrant.
  • Add in meat and five spice powder, fry for a bit.
  • Add in caramelised sugar and mix to coat the meat.
  • Mix in mushrooms, eggs, spring onions, Shaoxing wine, soya sauce, rock sugar, peanut butter and enough water to cover all ingredients.
  • Bring to boil and leave to cook under low heat for 1-2 hrs until meat is tender.
  • Add more soya sauce if not salty enough.
  • Fish out spring onions if you don't want to eat them.
  • The caramelised sugar gives the dish a reddish brown colour instead of the normal dark brown colour you see when light/ dark soya sauce is used.
  • Can use the same amount of oil to 'fry' more sugar. This can be kept for future use.
  • Do not attempt to lick or try the caramelised sugar once removed from heat, the boiling point of oil is very high and will burn you!
  • The caramelised sugar will start to harden when it cools, so use it straightaway or pour into a container for storage.
For Caramelised sugar:

  • ~2 tbs White sugar/ rock sugar
  • 1 tbs oil
1. Heat up oil under medium heat. Add in sugar and leave it to melt.
2. Reduce to low heat when sugar starts to melt. Will be a bit clumpy for rock sugar at first.

3. Keep stirring when sugar is fully melted.
4. Cook until dark brown/ brownish red.
At this point, large bubbles will form. Add ~1 tbs boiling water, mix and remove from heat.

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