Cookbook Recipe #9: 滷肉飯 (Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice)

If you follow my food Instagram (@yehhungryhere), you’ll have noticed that I have started cooking Chinese food for the first time in my life. Since I started regularly cooking, I have always felt intimidated or fearful in cooking the food of my own people or my own culture. I didn’t want to screw it up. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve always found it easier to cook Japanese or Korean food, because if I screw it up, there’s no shame, at least not self-inflicted. Food is so integral to my family and to my culture, that making mistakes or screwing it up felt like a dishonor. Last year, I dived headfirst into trying to teach myself how to cook Korean food, and now that I have cooked more and more, I felt like now was the time to take the leap of faith. I decided one of my first dishes would have to be one of my favorite foods from back home, which is this braised pork rice. As I’ve written in other Instagram posts, I love rice and have always found rice to be my preferred form of carbohydrates. After much experimenting (three iterations), I think I’ve hit a point where I feel confident in my recipe. As always, please check it out, try it out and let me know what you think.

Photo taken by Maddie W.

Ingredients:

Pork – Ok, so pork belly is a given, but how much you may ask? Well, as I always I was using my massive dutch oven to cook this, so it’s hard to give a proper gauge. For a huge portion I used like 4lbs of pork belly and 1.5-2 lbs of ground pork, but I think for something small start with 2 lbs or less of pork belly and 1 lb of ground pork. I typically like ratios of 3:1 or something similar between pork belly and ground pork. There’s a luscious-ness to the dish when you have pork belly, but remember a good amount of pork belly is still lean.
Shallots – You’re gonna need a bag of this. At least 12-15 shallots (for 4 lbs of meat, so if you’re going for like 2-3 total pounds, go for like 6-7 shallots).
Garlic – 3-5 cloves (or to your heart’s desire)
Rock Sugar – a couple handfuls
Soy Sauce – here we go, so this is something I learned along the way of my experimentation. Soy sauce is not uniform. Light soy sauce is a seasoning ingredient, meaning its saltier than its counterparts. Dark soy sauce is mainly used for color. Every day soy sauce can be used whenever. In this recipe, I use all three. The ratio is. 1/3 cup of light soy sauce, 1/2 cup of dark soy sauce and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of every day soy sauce. It used to be equal ratios, but the light soy sauce is quite salty and can be overpowering. Of course, as this dish cooks, you’re going to want to taste for seasoning and adjust. Add more sugar or water as you go.
Shaoxing Wine – you’re going to use about 3/4 cup to 1 cup. It helps with the gaminess of the pork.
Five Spice Powder – yea, I just did a couple shakes of it, couldn’t really be more specific than that haha.
Oil – canola or vegetable oil, 2 cups.
Eggs – hard boil your eggs

Preparation:

I’m not gonna lie, the prep for this is a pain in the butt. Only cause slicing shallots is a pain in the butt. It’s one thing to peel onions because they’re larger and easier to pull chunks off, but I just have trouble with the small shallots. It just is so freaking annoying. Honestly, chopping shallots and garlic is one huge pain but then slicing the pork belly is just a whole other ordeal too. Pork belly is very hard to cut into strips when fully defrosted, so freezing or partially frozen pork belly is always easier to manipulate. Prepare a sharp blade. When I last made this, I nearly developed blisters in between my thumb and my index finger because of the repeated motion.

Shallots & Garlic
– peel and slice the shallots into rings
– mince garlic

Pork Belly
– Pork belly needs to be cut into 1/2 inch strips. As mentioned above, I recommend partially frozen pork so that it retains shape. If begin to defrost in your hand, pause and return to freezer. Repeat until pork is all sliced up.

Method:

Step 1: Make the shallot oil. Add the oil into a high sided pot, and set to low/medium heat. Add the shallots and cook till crispy/golden brown. Stir and allow for the shallots to flavor the oil. Be sure not to burn the shallots. Adjust heat as necessary, but it can take a while. Remove and reserve 1/4 of the oil.
Step 2: Begin cooking the meat. Add ground pork and pork belly into the shallot oil and begin cooking, breaking up the ground pork into smaller pieces while stirring. This process can take a while, anywhere from 20-35 minutes.
Step 3: Add minced garlic, wine, and five spice powder. Cooked until wine has boiled off and aromatic.
Step 4: Reintroduce the fried shallots, add the rock sugar and add your liquids. Add water to ensure that the sauce covers all the meat. Bring to boil and taste for seasoning. Remember, it will reduce, so be cautious while seasoning.
Step 5: Set to low heat and simmer for 3-4 hours, stirring every so often and tasting. You may want to scoop out some of the fat, but that’s personal preference, I like having the richness.
Step 6: 60 minutes prior to serving, add boiled/de-shelled eggs into the sauce and watch as the color changes.



Serve over hot rice with pickled radish, stir-fried cabbage, or whatever else your heart desires. Personally, I think the sauce tastes better after it rests overnight, but feel free to serve day of as well. Freeze leftovers, but trusts me, it goes down quick.

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