Sweet-Tart Pork Belly Stew

Moo Jaw

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 or 5

Appears in

This satisfying cross between a soup and a stew is aromatic with lemongrass. Traditionally the broth gets a tart edge from whatever leaf or fruit or flavoring is available. In Shan State, that might be hibiscus flower buds or unripe tomatoes or lime juice. You can also use tamarind liquid.

Serve over rice or over noodles or pasta, with a vegetable side.


  • About 6 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, smashed, and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 pound pork belly, cut into ½-inch-wide strips about 1½ inches long
  • 1 generous cup shallots, halved or quartered
  • 1 cup garlic cloves, halved if they are large
  • 1 cup hibiscus buds, or substitute ½ cup fresh lime juice or 1 cup finely chopped green tomatoes
  • ¼ cup finely chopped coriander


Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the turmeric, salt, lemongrass, and pork, cover, and bring back to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a steady boil and cook until the pork is just cooked, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the shallots and garlic, raise the heat slightly, and boil vigorously, half-covered, for 15 minutes.

Add the hibiscus buds (or other souring agent) and boil vigorously for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle on the coriander just before serving.

Pork Belly Skin: Pork belly skin (sometimes called rind) is a great but often neglected ingredient. Use it to make your own lard and crispy pork cracklings. Slice it, then cut it crosswise into approximately 2-inch pieces. Place them in a wok or wide heavy skillet over medium heat. Move them around as they heat, and soon the fat will melt off them. Continue to cook over medium to medium-low heat until you have a lot of fat with cracklings floating in it. Let cool for 10 minutes, then pour the fat off into a glass jar; seal and refrigerate. Use this lard, clean and subtle, in making pastry or for frying. The crispy cracklings are a delicious snack and also a great crouton-like addition to a salad: see Chinese Kale (or Broccoli Rabe) with Pork Cracklings for a Shan example—or a variation on Caesar salad for a Western one.