I never had the fortune to taste hers, but mom and her siblings talked about it every time they got together; how grandma used to leave it in the embers in the traditional stove overnight, and how the braised pork had an intense sweet aroma, and the meat just melts in the mouth, and they have to be careful not to swallow their tongue with the meat because it tastes THAT good. And in the end they’d always comment how the modern stovetop-cooked version is just that much short of grandma’s dish.
Oops, sorry to disappoint… But really, this is still my favourite braised pork recipe even if it’s cooked on the modern stovetop. To make this dish, you’ll need:
- 2 Kg pork belly with skin on cut into thick piece (layers of skin, meat and fat should be very clear, as they are called 3-layered cuts in Taiwanese)
- a HUGH bunch (2 handfuls) of garlic shoots or 4 bulbs of garlic (the sole reason I grow garlic is for the shoots for this recipe because no one sells it where I live)
- 2 handfuls of dried Chinese mushrooms (also known as Shiitake), washed and soaked in water until soft (buy ones with a good woody fragrance)
- 2 bunches of coriander
- 1/3 white rice liquor (about 14% alcohol content*, optional)
- 1/2-3/4 cup of soy sauce**
Follow these steps:
- Wash garlic shoots and coriander. Don’t chop them.
- Cut the mushrooms into bite size if they are large.
- Put everything into a big pot and add enough water to just cover the meat.
- Bring to boil on the stove and simmer for 1-2 hours until the meat can be easily picked apart with a fork.
- Serve with plenty of rice.
Ever since I built Big Bill the Clay Oven, I’ve been doing this dish in Big Bill, putting it into the oven when it’s 130 – 150 C and leaving it in there overnight. Mom said the result is really just like how her grandma used to make it! Kiwi Bird is also a big fan of this dish, and I really have to remind him not to swallow his tongue! I hope you’ll enjoy this family recipe of mine too! 🙂
* About rice liquor: There are typically two types, one around 14% in alcohol, the other around 40%. If you have the stronger one, halve the amount.
** About soy sauce: Soy sauce varies in saltiness. In general the Taiwanese ones are a lot less salty than ones from China, and has a stronger aroma (which I strongly recommend). Add less to begin with and taste once the dish has boiled. Adjust with water/soy sauce to your taste. Remember at the end of cooking, the dish will become more salty as water evaporates. For a better understanding of the role of soy sauce, I recommend reading this.