Braised pork belly (豆油肉)or “Tau Yu Bak” is my family favourite dish. It is easy to cook with few ingredients and I always cook a large pot with plans for leftovers as it keep well. Recently, I saw recipes for root beer braised pork belly which I thought was really interesting. I have used coca-cola for my chicken wings, so I know it works by caramelising and tenderising the meat while sweetening the stew.
Tip: If you find the resultant stew too sweet, do adjust to taste according to your preference (for example, adding more water and soy sauces). Braised pork stews are the most flexible dish in the world (according to my mother) and one can easily season the stew to taste with soy sauces, water and sugar.
The root beer not only help to tenderise and caramelise the pork, it also sweetens the stew. You may substitute with coca-cola. The recipe is very forgiving and flexible. Adjust to taste with water, soy sauce (dark for colour and sweetness; light for saltiness) and rock sugar (sweetness). Simmer longer for more tender meat.
Prep Time:10 mins
Cook Time:60 mins
8 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 tbsp cooking oil
500 grams pork belly
1-2 piece "tau kwa" (fried beancurd/豆干) quartered
spring onions or coriander garnishing
(A) Stew Ingredients
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 can (330 ml) root beer
750 ml water
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
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.
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.
Heat oil in wok or claypot. Brown pork belly on both sides on medium heat. Coat both sides of browned pork belly with 1 tbsp dark soy sauce.
Add the ingredients in (A). Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer (with lid partially closed) for an hour, or until the meat is tender.
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.
Noob Cook Tips
Browning the meat before cooking adds depth and flavour, but you may skip this step if you are busy.
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.
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.
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.