Thursday, July 4, 2013

lor bak: braised pork in light soy sauce (卤肉)

When I was a kid, I would watch while my mom made a HUGE pot of braised pork. I would salivate as I took in the aroma of the pork and other bits gently simmering away on the stove. I love braised pork so much, but never did learn to cook it from my mom.

When I started living on my own, I needed simple recipes that I could cook without much fuss in my tiny kitchen. Since I had only a general idea of how to cook braised pork, I messed around in the kitchen and came up with my own way of cooking it.

When I met the LAM, I made this dish and he liked it quite a lot. The only problems he had with it were, firstly, the "tubular bits", which turned out to be the pig's intestines. I think he was quite horrified that he had actually eaten intestines of any sort. So when I cook braised pork these days, I make sure no intestine gets on his plate. (More for me! :p)

The second problem the LAM had was that because I had used pig trotters, there were quite a few boney bits, and he also was not too keen on the gelatinous taste of the skin. For that reason, I use pork belly to cook braised pork now.

I only buy pork from my butcher at the wet market I go to. I think that it is a shame that because people have become so reliant on supermarkets these days, fewer patronise wet markets. Yes, supermarkets are convenient, but I love going to the wet market, choosing different cuts of meat, and chatting with those who sell me pork, beef, fish, whatever. I never have to worry that I may be using the wrong cut of meat when I cook, nor do I have to worry that the food I am buying may not be fresh, or of the best quality.

I started by cutting the pork belly into smaller chunks before marinating them with the five spice powder. The LAM and I prefer a heavier tasting braised pork dish, so I do tend to go more heavily on the five spice powder. If you prefer a milder taste, then by all means, reduce the amount of five spice powder by as much as half.

I also peeled and sliced a piece of ginger and smashed cloves of garlic.

I used star anise, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. These were set aside.

In a heated wok, I added the oil and ginger. I fried the ginger for about 2-3 minutes, until the ginger became fragrant.

Then I added the spices, and fried for one more minute before adding the garlic.

After a couple of quick stirs, I added the meat and continue to fry for another 2-3 minutes.

I added half the water and the light soy sauce and pepper.

As well as the dark soy sauce.

I think using a good quality dark soy for this dish is really important. In addition to adding a nice colour to the dish, it also adds a depth of flavour.

I added the rest of the water, or until the meat was almost completely covered, and brought the water to a boil.

Because I cooked a larger portion (so I could freeze half of it for another dinner), I transferred everything into a larger pot. Otherwise, the cooking can be completed in the wok.

Once the water had come to a boil, I added the intestine.

The heat was turned down to the lowest possible setting, and I simmered the pork and intestine for 1.5 hours. You can adjust the simmering time, depending on how soft you want the meat to be. It is important to ensure that the water level is maintained (ie, almost completely covering the pork and intestine) and to give it a stir once in a while.

About 20 minutes before serving, I added the eggs, tao pok puffs (brown squarish toufu skin), tau kwa (firm toufu) and white fish cake, and bring the sauce to a boil.

The dish was done!

I served mine with rice, but porridge would be yummy with it too!

Braised Pork in Light Soy Sauce (Serves 4)

800g pork belly (or trotters), cut into smaller pieces
500g intestine (optional)
4 eggs, boiled and shells removed
8 pieces white fish cake
2 pieces tau kua, cut into quarters
8 pieces of tau pok puff, halved
1 piece ginger (about 5cm), peeled and sliced
10-15 cloves garlic, smashed
4 pieces star anise
4 pieces cloves
2 pieces cinnamon bark, broken in half
1 cardamom
5 tbs five spice powder
2 tbs light soy sauce
1/4 cup dark soy, more if you prefer a darker sauce
1-1.5 litre water (enough to cover meat)
1/2 tsp grounded white pepper
2 tbs vegetable oil

1. Wash and cut pork into bite size pieces. Marinate with five spice powder. Set aside.
2. Peel and slice ginger. Smash garlic. Set aside.
3. In a heated wok, add oil. Fry ginger until fragrant. Add spices, fry for a minute.
4. Add garlic, give it a couple of stirs.
5. Place pork in wok. Fry for 2 minutes. Add half the water, light soy, dark soy and pepper.
6. Bring to a boil, add intestines and the rest of the water.
7. Simmer, uncovered, for 1-1.5 hours, depending on how soft you like the meat.
8. Ensure water almost covers all of the meat and intestines.
9. 20 minutes before eating, add the rest of the ingredients.
10. Bring to boil.
11. Serve hot, with rice or porridge.



  1. C asks if you wanna adopt a kid or not.

  2. LOL!!!! He the the cutest thing but I think it would be better if Mummy cooks for him! Nothing beats Mummy's cooking ;)