Hokkien-style braised pork belly in dark soy sauce (tau yew bak)
Serves 4 to 6
• 800g belly pork, cut into thin layered strips
• 1 head garlic
• 2 tsps dark soy sauce
• 3 tbsps light soy sauce
• ½ tsp ground white pepper
• 750ml water
• 3 to 4 steamed Chinese buns
• 3 bunches coriander leaves (cilantro), cut into 4cm lengths
1. Rinse the meat well. To cut the pork belly into thin strips, place the meat on a piece of aluminium foil or greaseproof paper and freeze flat until it’s stiff, yet soft enough to be sliced through. Ensure each slice (layered with fat and lean) is about 6cm long. Or, heat some water in a saucepan and boil the meat until it’s firm enough to be sliced through. Use the remaining water to braise the pork in step 4.
2. Rinse the head of garlic with skin on, then use the flat side of a cleaver, or a pestle, to bash it.
3. Combine all ingredients in a pot, except the steamed buns and coriander leaves, and bring to a boil. Skim off the scum as it rises.
4. Once the water is boiling, lower the heat and simmer for one-and-a-half to two hours, or till the meat is tender. Ensure the pieces are intact and not falling apart. Rest the stew for several hours before serving.
5. Add variety to the stew by including firm tofu cut into cubes, or dried shiitake mushrooms. Alternatively, make a Hakka-style version of the stew by adding several whole seeded dried chilies and a piece of star anise.
6. To assemble, steam the buns until soft, then open and place a slice or two of meat in it, top it with coriander leaves, and fold over before serving.
Next up, Peranakan-style chap chye…
Straits Chinese mixed vegetables (chap chye)
Serves 6 to 8
• 1 kg pork ribs and bones
• 3 litres water
• 2 tbsps vegetable oil
• 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 tbsps mashed salted soy beans (taucheo) or brown miso
• 1½ tsps salt
• 100g turnip (bangkwang), peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
• 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, softened in water, kept whole or sliced
• 10g dried lily buds, softened in water, tough stem trimmed, then knotted
• 30g fresh or dried woodear fungus, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
• 60g gingko nuts, shelled and skinned, germ removed
• 60g Chinese red dates
• 60g dried beancurd sticks, softened in cold water and cut into short lengths
• 60g glass noodles, softened in cold water
• 100g cabbage, cut into 3 cm square pieces
• 250g prawns (shrimps)
1. Combine the pork ribs and bones in a large stockpot of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for two hours for a rich stock. Discard the bones, but keep the meatier ribs.
2. Next, heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the garlic until golden in colour. Then add salted soy beans or miso and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add these ingredients to the stockpot and bring the stock back to a boil.
3. Once it’s boiling, add all the ingredients — except the glass noodles, prawns and cabbage — to the stockpot and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Since glass noodles and some of the dried ingredients absorb liquid, reserve a litre of stock in case the stew requires more in the later stages of cooking. If you don’t use the extra stock, pour the liquid into handy-sized containers, let cool, then freeze.
5. Last, add the glass noodles, prawns, and cabbage and continue simmering till the prawns change colour. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the stew sit for at least an hour before serving. Reheat the stew and serve with rice (optional) and sambal belacan.
Japanese kombu, mirin and saké add zing to braised chicken…
Japanese Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Tofu
Serves 4 to 6
• 200g boneless chicken, cut into cubes
• 2 tsps sesame oil
• A few drops dark soy sauce (optional)
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 tbsp saké
• 2 slices ginger
• 3 tbsps kombu shoyu
• 1 tbsp mirin
• 250ml water
• 150g chestnuts, peeled
• 100g konnyaku, cut into strips
• 100g edamame, shelled
• 200g browned tofu, cubed
1. Marinate the chicken in sesame oil, dark soy sauce and salt. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
2. In a saucepan, combine the saké, ginger, kombu shoyu, mirin, water and chestnuts and bring to a boil.
3. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes before adding the konnyaku strips, edamame and tofu cubes.
4. When the chestnuts start to soften, stir in the chicken cubes and continue simmering for 30 minutes until the meat is cooked. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Turn heat off and let the stew rest for at least a couple of hours for the flavours to combine.
5. Before serving, reheat and serve with either short-grain rice, udon or glass noodles, or a soup and some Japanese pickles.
Recipes from Asian Soups, Stews and Curries, by Lee Geok Boi.
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