Tauyu Bak

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This dish of braised pork in soy sauce is a southern Chinese stew that is primal in its simplicity. Different versions can be found in the Chinese diaspora across South East Asia. Rubbing the pork with five-spice powder before frying allows the spices to toast in the hot oil and caramelised sugar, bringing out their fragrance. Using home-made five-spice powder makes a world of difference. Like most stews, it tastes better when a day or two old.

Ingredients

  • Pork belly 500 g (1 lb oz)
  • Superior thick dark soy sauce 3 Tbsp
  • Five-spice powder 1 tsp
  • Cooking oil 2 Tbsp
  • Sugar 2 Tbsp
  • Garlic 4 cloves, unpeeled
  • Superior light soy sauce 2 Tbsp
  • Water 300 ml (10 fl oz / cups)
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Scrape pork belly skin with a sharp knife to remove any bristles. Wash well and pat dry, then cut into chunks about 4-cm (1½-in) wide. Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch pork belly chunks for 1 minute, then drain well. Pat chunks dry and mix well with 1 Tbsp thick dark soy sauce and five-spice powder. Cover and let marinate for 30 minutes in a cool place.
  2. Heat oil and sugar together in a wok or large pot over medium heat, swirling the pan instead of stirring. When sugar has caramelised to an amber colour, add pork belly chunks. Be careful as it will splutter. Fry for 1 minute, turning the chunks to coat them with the caramel.
  3. Add remaining thick dark soy sauce and all other ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil, half-cover and lower heat to maintain a simmer. There should be only just enough liquid to bathe the pork. It should not be swimming in liquid. Cook for 1–1½ hours, stirring occasionally, or until pork is fork-tender.
  4. Adjust seasoning with salt, sugar or light soy sauce as desired. Skim off oil from the gravy if there is too much. Serve hot with rice or Chinese steamed buns.