In this solo cooking adventure, Gary turns once again to his trusty claypot to make some pork belly.
It was a few months ago, back in February and in between two big snow storms here in New York City, when I decided it was time yet again to make something in my claypot to warm me up. But what would I make in it? I’d already done something with rice in the claypot and even a vegetarian dish. Again, it was time to utilize the best tool in my research arsenal – the Google. After some time searching (okay, not much time really), I stumbled upon Tau Yew Bak, a Hokkien soy-braised pork belly dish. Pork belly and tons of soy sauce? Yes, please.
Again, I turned to a Rasa Malaysia recipe as the basis for what I wanted to make. It made sense – the braised tofu recipe of hers was a hit and she certainly knows her Asian recipes. Also, the photos of her Taw Yew Bak looked wonderful, which is always a good sign for success.
The recipe is absurdly simple to execute as the number of steps involved are minimal and the ingredients list can be as little or as much as you want to cook in the soy braising liquid. The original recipe calls for four cups of water but if you plan on cooking more than just the pork belly, I’d recommend you reduce the amount of water down to 3 cups so you don’t end up overflowing the claypot. Besides the pork belly, you have a multitude of options for braising – tradition calls for hard boiled eggs or tofu but I’ve also seen root vegetables used. After all, there’s nothing that wouldn’t benefit from a braise in soy sauce. I ended up using re-hydrated dried mushrooms and fried tofu (the kind you find in 8 oz packages in Asian grocery stores). I used the fried tofu that comes cut into eight triangles but I’ve also used the ones that are cut into 20 cubes – either one will work.
By the way, when working with pork belly (or any cut of meat that’s exceptionally fatty), stick it in the freezer for half an hour before you attempt to cut into it. That way, you don’t end up with the skin sliding off the fat and the fat separating from the meat. It’s definitely less messy this way.
When it’s done cooking, serve the pork belly and whatever else you stuck in the braising liquid over a bed of jasmine rice. Then proceed to ladle out as much of the braising liquid as you can stand. It’s so good, you may just end up drinking it by the spoonful like I did.
Braised Pork Belly with Fried Tofu and Mushrooms
(Adapted from Rasa Malaysia)
- 1 lb pork belly (cut into small pieces)
- 3 cups water (4 if you don’t plan on using the tofu and/or mushrooms)
- 4 large cloves garlic (pulped)
- 1 tbsp white pepper
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp Thai dark sweet soy sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 8 oz fried tofu (one package, usually)
- 8 shitake mushrooms (soaked in warm water for 20-30 minutes)
- salt to taste
- Bring the water to a boil in a claypot.
- Add the pork belly, garlic, and white pepper. Bring the water back to a boil.
- Add the fried tofu, mushrooms, soy sauce, Thai dark sweet soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. Lower the heat to medium and let the pork belly cook for another 30 minutes or until it becomes tender.
- Add salt to taste. Simmer on the lowest heat possible for another 15-20 minutes.
- Serve over jasmine rice.