Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Taiwanese Braised Pork over Rice (滷肉飯)

I always thought the Mandarin phrase "cha bu duo" meant "as much as you need" because that's how my mom would respond whenever I asked her how much of an ingredient to add to a dish.  For instance, when I asked her how to make lu rou fan (Taiwanese braised pork over rice), she told me to add fried shallots, cooking wine, and soy sauce to the browned pork.  I asked her how much of each, and she just said "cha bu duo" in an exasperated voice. 

But when I asked her what that phrase meant, she explained it means "more or less". Google translates it to "almost, nearly, similar". None of that is helpful though without any actual measurements, haha.

After several rounds of experimenting and the added guidance of TACL-LYF's Taiwanese Homestyle Cooking cookbook, I've come up with my preferred way to make this homey dish.  Some recipes call for using exclusively pork belly, but the version I grew up eating was made with only ground pork.  Using half ground pork and half pork belly is a nice compromise, but you can also just use only fatty ground pork.

One ingredient I've started using that's kind of like a cheat code is Lee Kum Kee's pork bone soup base.  It comes super concentrated so I like to freeze it in small portions and just dissolve the amount I need for a particular recipe.  Not only does it add a lot of flavor, it's full of collagen that will add a nice sticky mouthfeel to the braised pork.  If you don't have any pork bone soup, you can just use water, and I've read that some people add unflavored gelatin to give it that same mouthfeel.

If you want, you can add some peeled, boiled eggs to the pot while it's cooking to make lu dan (soy braised eggs), but I prefer my egg yolks jammy so I usually just marinate them separately.  I also like to serve this with some stir-fried greens like napa cabbage or bok choy, although sometimes if I'm really lazy, I'll just add the greens directly to the pot while it's cooking.

Taiwanese Braised Pork over Rice (滷肉飯)
makes 4 servings

1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. pork belly, chopped
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon oil
5 tablespoons fried shallots
1 tablespoon rice wine
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 cup pork bone soup or water (see note above)
1/2 tablespoon rock sugar
1/2 teaspoon Joy's Five Spice
1 star anise
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
4 cups steamed rice

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in hot water for at least 15 minutes, then finely chop.

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the mushrooms and fried shallots.  Cook for a minute or two until fragrant, then add the ground pork and chopped pork belly.  Continue to cook until the pork is cooked through and a little browned.  

Add the rice wine to deglaze and then add the soy sauce, pork broth (or water), rock sugar, five spice powder, star anise, and white pepper.  Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to a simmer.  Let simmer for an hour, then serve over rice along with greens, pickled daikon, and a soy marinated egg if you like.

Next:  Soy-Marinated Jammy Eggs
Previously:  Sourdough Discard Okinomiyaki Waffles

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