I braise often as I think this is the easiest 1-dish-meal as an express cooking for the working class, like myself. Braise or stew, they are both good cooking method that make your cooking less hassle, which you could have this robust 1-pot dinner packs in meat, mushrooms, tofu, and/ or eggs. The flavourful gravy from the braised pork dish truly whets your appetite, too. A plate of plain steamed rice or a few Chinese steamed bun is the only accompaniment you need for a complete meal.
My girl loved this braised dish so much, especially the egg! My girl seldom eat meat, and she took only the braised egg and refused to eat any meat, at first. I had to persuade her to take some. Finally, she tried. And guess what? She ended up eating more meat than usual, and even yearned for more. She told me that the meat was so tender, and she loved the flavourful gravy to go with her rice. Of course, we completed the whole pot of braise, at last (smile).
I used pork meat to do the braising, usually, with addition of Chinese Shitake mushrooms, tofu, tau pok (tofu puff), and/ or hard-boiled eggs. And, I have a few different braising methods with some variations on ingredients used, which posted previously. This, is another recipe of my braising dish. Simple, and delicious home cooked Chinese braise. This braised meat is also perfect to cook when hosting a small gathering at home, to stretch your dollar on the food ingredients and satisfy the crowd at the same time. It’s, too, simple to cook and presentable to serve.
300 – 400 grams of pork belly, thickly sliced
4 eggs, hard boiled
Seasoning for pork belly:
2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
Pinch of grounded white pepper
2 tablespoons of cooking oil (*for sautéing of pork belly)
Ingredients for braising sauce (卤水汁 “Lu Shui Zhi“):
2 cups of water (about 500ml)
3 star anise (八角)
4 dried cloves aka Syzygium aromaticum (丁香) *see right pic
1 cinnamon stick (桂皮)
2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon of rice wine or *Mirin (Japanese rice wine, preferred)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
Dash of grounded white pepper
Pinch of salt (Optional)
1) Slice pork belly into chunks, rinse and season with the listed condiments. Marinate overnight (if you are going to cook before going off work in the morning), or at least 1 hour on the same day. Keep it in the refrigerator before use.
2) Boil a pot of water to cook the eggs for 10 minutes, or till it turns completed solid as hard-boiled eggs. Let it cool before peeling the shell. Reserve for later. If you have time, do this in the morning. Boil the egg while sautéing the pork. Then, do the peeling after settling the pork belly in slow cooker. Otherwise, pre-boil the eggs the night before and place it in the refrigerator, if you don’t mind.
3) Heat wok with oil over medium-high fire. Pat dry marinated pork belly a little, using kitchen towel, to minimize the splashing of oil when place it into heated oil. Sauté pork belly on both sides till lightly browned. Remove from wok and drain on wire strainer.
4) Return sautéed pork belly and place into the croak pot, followed by adding of all listed ingredients of braising sauce. Then, place the croak pot into the slow cooker, cover with lid, and turn on auto/ low shift mode. Then, go peel the shell of the hard-boiled eggs now (if you did not prepare it in advance), and then, place the eggs into the croak pot to braise it together with the pork belly. Now, you can off to work. Or, braise it in slow cooker for at least 5 hours, or until pork belly turns soften and both pork and eggs are ‘colored’ brown (fully coated with the braising sauce).
5) Do a taste check. Add some salt, if more briny flavor preferred. Otherwise, ladle into a large serving bowl to serve it hot, with steamed rice or bun.
A portion of Chinese braised pork belly with a braised egg counts about 420kcal. Skip the pre-sautéing may save some calories intake. If prefer it with Shitake mushroom, choose this recipe: Braised Pork & Shitake Mushroom. As for spicy braised, choose this recipe: Braised knuckles.
Variation: Add also some tofu puff (tao pok), as desired.
Tips: Using pork belly for braising is the best option as pork belly will be very tender and full of flavor. Choose leaner belly, for less greasy choice.
*The purpose of sautéing the pork belly is to enhance the texture and flavor of the meat. Leave it, if you do not wish to do so.
* Make sure the braising sauce covers all the meat and eggs while simmering in slow cooker.
* Chinese braise is supposed to use Chinese rice wine, but I chose and preferred Mirin because it has a hint of sweetness which helps to enhance the braised. I think it makes good addition to my recipe. If you have Mirin, add it instead. Otherwise, use rice wine.