Tau Yu Bak (Braised Pork Belly in Soy Sauce)

Braised Pork Belly in Soy Sauce Recipe

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I grew up eating this homely dish of braised pork belly in soy sauce (or locally known as “tau yu bak”/豆油肉) so this is true taste of home-cooked food to me. Deliciously savoury, this dish goes very well with rice or steamed buns (kong bak bao). Every family has a different way of cooking this dish.

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My family’s version is no fuss – just one type of soy sauce (dark) and no need to grind the spices. The recipe is also very forgiving and flexible so you can always “rescue” it if something goes wrong. Do not overdose on the spices (like star anise, cinnamon) because a little goes a long way.

Braised Pork Belly in Soy Sauce Recipe

I re-created the dish from memory of the taste and I let my mum taste test the dish. Her verdict – my tau yu bak was good, and she liked that the sauce is just the right amount (if too much, the stew is diluted; too little will result in insufficient gravy for the rice & meat).

Braised Pork Belly in Soy Sauce Recipe

Braised Pork Belly in Soy Sauce Recipe

Browning the pork belly (optional but highly recommended) adds additional flavour to the stew.

Braised Pork Belly in Soy Sauce Recipe

Aromatics for cooking tau yu bak

Braised Pork Belly in Soy Sauce Recipe

Constantly check that the braising sauce is not dried out during the simmering. You will need to add water (a little at a time) when the stew is drying out.

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 60 mins

Ingredients

  • 8 dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 500 grams pork belly
  • 1.5 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • spring onions or coriander garnishing
  • 1-2 piece of fried beancurd (tau kwa/豆干) quartered

(A) Seasonings

  • 1 litre water
  • 1.5 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 cinnamon stick (桂皮)
  • 1 star anise (八角)
  • 4 cloves (丁香)
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder (五香粉)
  • 1.5 bulbs garlic separated into individual cloves (no need to peel)
  • dashes of white pepper powder to taste

Directions

  1. Soak dry mushrooms in small bowl of hot water until puffy, then drain water. Squeeze out the water from mushrooms and trim away stems. Set aside the mushroom caps.
  2. Prepare 80% cooked hard boiled eggs. To do that, place eggs in saucepan of cold water (enough water to cover eggs one layer). Bring to a boil for about 2 minutes, turn off the stove and cover with lid for about 7 minutes (for 100% hard boiled eggs, it’s about 10 minutes). Rinse the eggs with cold water until eggs are cooled. Peel when cool enough to handle. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in casserole (wok, claypot or deep pot). Brown pork belly on both sides on medium heat. Add 1.5 tbsp dark soy sauce on both sides of browned pork belly.
  4. Add (A) and mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer (with lid partially closed) for an hour, or until the meat is tender.
  5. During the last 10 minutes of simmering, add eggs and tau kwa. To serve, slice pork belly to smaller, bite-sized pieces. Serve with rice or steamed buns. Garnish with spring onions or coriander.

Cooking Notes

  1. Browning the meat before cooking adds depth and flavour, but you may skip this step if you are busy.
  2. Constantly check that the braising sauce is not dried out during the simmering.  You will need to add water (a little at a time) when the stew is drying out.
  3. The recipe is very forgiving and flexible. Adjust to taste with dark soy sauce (for colour and sweetness), light soy sauce (for saltiness) and rock sugar for (sweetness). Simmer longer for more tender meat.
  4. Do not overdose on the spices (like star anise, cinnamon) as a little goes a long way.
  5. For best results, cook and serve this dish in a claypot. My claypot is too small for cooking, so I cooked it in a wok and transfer the cooked stew to a claypot for reheating.

Variations

If you want marbled eggs (Chinese tea leaf eggs), do not peel the eggs. Instead, gently tap the exterior of the eggs with the back of the spoon to form cracks evenly around the egg, careful to leave the entire shell still intact and covering the egg. This will create the beautiful “marbled” look and also allow the flavours to seep through the eggs.