Braised Pork Belly, etc

Three nights ago, I made braised pork belly for dinner. I wanted to recreate Koya’s cider-braised pork belly, but it ended up more like 红烧肉 (Hong Shao Rou), a Chinese delicacy that happens to be Mao’s favourite dish (!!!). I didn’t have cider nor ginger at hand so I guess that’s why it turned out to be more like 红烧肉… Nevertheless, Xr and I really enjoyed it and it’s going onto our Dinner List, which is a list of things we (I) have to make at least once a week. Koya’s cider-braised pork tastes very similar to 红烧肉 anyway so it’s all good! Recipe (with pictures!) and some updates under the cut

IMG_0689
^ An overview of the ingredients I used

Braised pork belly
Serves 2
Adapted from The Woks of Life and Grubworm

Note: my version probably isn’t as clear because there aren’t pictures for some steps, for  a better visual representation of how to cook 红烧肉, look at The Woks of Life’s post! It includes a few more ingredients too, which I omitted either because I’m not a huge fan of them or it’s too much trouble.

Ingredients I used
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
75ml shaoxing wine
100ml light soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
500g good pork belly
500ml water or pork stock

optional
300ml beer–I used Stella Artois and I found that it made the pork kinda bitter. Guess beer isn’t always a good idea hahaha. I will try cider next time!
star anise–the recipe by Grubworm called for it, but I was overwhelmed by the scent (pungence??) of it so I didn’t add it in. Later, I found out from my mom that I’m only supposed to use like, 2 spokes from a star cuz the scent is very strong. Each star has 8 spokes and I would have used two stars..thank goodness I left it out!!! It would have totally ruined the dish.

Step 1
Cut up the pork belly into ~2.5cm wide chunks

IMG_0688Fatty cut up pork belly 

Step 2 (can be done simultaneously with step 3)
Boil pork belly for ~3 min to get it slightly cooked and get rid of impurities and unwanted fat. When done, skim the fat and pour away the liquid into a bowl. Or, instead of pouring the liquid into a bowl, transfer the semi-cooked pork belly into the hot caramelised sugar if you’re doing steps 2 and 3 simultaneously, and keep the liquid in your pot. This way you save on washing up HEHE. Which is always the goal when you’re a student…or actually a rational human being.

Step 3
On medium high heat (that’s if you’re using a wok and gas stove I think, I had to use high heat on my hot plate cuz the sugar wasn’t melting. I had a real hard time with this step :(), toast 2 tbsp sugar til it turns golden and caramelly, kinda like a syrup. Then add semi-cooked pork (from Step 2) and fry til it looks like:

IMG_0687^ Fry pork pieces til they look This

Step 4
Start adding the wine, sauce, water/stock, etc. Everything into the pan. You don’t have to follow my exact measurements because I didn’t haha I eyeballed most of it and tasted along the way. It’s better to add a little and keep tasting and adding along the way. The recipes I referenced above were really helpful as a guide though. Go with your GUT, and tastebuds.

IMG_0686^ After adding the liquid ingredients, it should look something like This

Step 5
Let it heat up til it boils, then turn down to the lowest heat and let it simmer for at least an hour. This is to make the meat tender and juicy and mmmhm. I chose to transfer everything from the pan to the saucepan cuz the saucepan’s better for prolonged heating, I think..? If you have a slow-cooker it’s even better. Taste and add stuff along the way! Bear in mind that everything will reduce after simmering so don’t let it be too salty at the beginning. Or you could just add more water

IMG_0685^ Boiling in the saucepan ^.^

TADAH! The end product looks exactly like the last picture so yeah that’s how it should look like. Enjoy!

Next time, I think I’ll add a hard-boiled egg or two. And use 2 spokes of star anise. Hehe.

On another note, exams start this week. In fact, my first paper is in 2.5 hours. I have the time to blog because it’s a Microecons MCQ paper lol so yeh quite chill~ But I don’t think I will feel as ~lepakz~ after this because my history-ish paper is coming up, then it’s Law and Accounting next week, which I don’t feel as prepared for soooooo…yeah I might have to say bye to this space for a while 😥

BUT, ON A MUCH BRIGHTER NOTE, I’M GOING HOME FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR! Woohoo this is something I’m really looking forward to :’) Light (literally, because 12 hours of sunlight vs 8 hours of sunlight) at the end of the Exam tunnel.

Good luck to everyone having exams etc, and have a happy week ahead!

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