"This rustic dish reminds me of Dongpo pork, the braised pork from Hangzhou in China, made famous by the 11th-century poet-scholar, Su Dongpo," says Tony Tan. "Called tau yu bak by the Hokkiens, it means meat (bak) cooked in soy sauce (tau yu), and it is one of my mother's favourites. It does not grace the menu of many restaurants, though one of the best versions I've had lately was at Tek Sen, a super-casual eatery in Penang.
"A cinch to prepare, it tastes even better served a day or so after it's cooked. Pork belly is traditional, though any other meat may be used. Some families add firm bean curd called tau kwa and boiled eggs, while others pop in five spice and star anise for extra kick."
- 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 7 garlic cloves, skin on, lightly crushed
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- ½ tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
- 600 gm pork belly (see note), cut into large (about 5cm) pieces
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- Sambal belacan, to serve (optional)
- 1Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and fry the garlic until light golden (1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and pepper and cook until sugar caramelises (2-3 minutes). Add pork, stir to coat well, then add the soy sauces, stir to combine and cook for flavours to develop (about 1 minute). Add 750ml water and bring to the boil, skimming any impurities. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently, topping up with water if necessary, until the meat is fork tender and the sauce is syrupy (1½-2 hours.)
- 2Adjust seasoning to taste with soy and sugar, and serve with sambal belacan.
If you don't like the porky smell, blanch the pork in boiling water and rinse before cooking.
Drink suggestion: Rich, earthy mourvèdre. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.