This is the classic of all home-cooked Chinese dishes, in and outside of China. Every household has their own twist and everybody loves their mama’s Tau Yiu Bak (or braised pork in soy sauce). I, naturally, prefer our version. The deep brown, made from bite-sized morsels of pork, layered with skin, fat and meat, all deliciously braised in a salty, sweet sauce to become melt-in-your-mouth tender. The secret is that to use both type of soy sauce. Light salty soy sauce and sweet dark soy sauce compliment each other and delivers the saltiness and deeper complex moreish flavour to the dish. Our braised pork in soy celebrates the meat and local soy sauce, nothing less and nothing more. The whole bulb of garlic and eggs are just meaningful companion.
Kids and adults alike can have fulfilling lunch (and dinner, and breakfast for the next day) with steamed rice and this sweet and salty dish. The hard boiled eggs are usually first to go. The lean meat would be next in line. Other fatty bits with gelatinous bite is loved by the older ones. The last to go or the one get wasted is shiitake mushrooms. It is necessary because it imparts such complex flavour to the dish. When cooked nicely, mushrooms can be quite delicious.
The braised pork in soy sauce calls for a couple of bulbs of garlic, soaked dried shiitake, pork trotters and hard boiled eggs. Pork trotters can be substituted with any kind of pork meat. Most commonly used is pork belly. The trotter was particularly fresh and nice that morning when we dropped by the butcher, so we got it. Normally we would also use pork belly. The secret is to not cut the pork too thinly so that the long braising period will not cause the pork to be overcooked.
The pork trotter is deep fried for 2-3 minutes to toughen the skin. We don’t want the skin to be mushy. Of course this is totally optional.
Eggs are also deep fried for a couple of minutes so that a layer of brownish skin developed and it kinda protects the egg from the braising. The skin also adds a new level of texture for the egg.
These are the end product of deep frying those two.
As in all other family dishes based on soy sauce, the first step is to caramelise sugar in wok. Heat up cooking oil and sugar over medium heat. Keep stirring the sugar until melted.
Quickly stir fry until the melted sugar turned light brownish colour. This will take about 1 minute at most.
Stir-fry garlic and mushrooms.
Add pork and continue stirring until everything is nicely coated with the caramel and oil.
Add hot water and continue cooking till the water boils over for a couple of minutes.
Add some soy sauce.
And freshly ground pepper.
And more hot water, until it covers 3/4 of all ingredients.
Transfer the dish to a heavy pot. Let simmer for 45 minutes. It is going to be a beautiful dish. I promise.
- 500 g pork trotter / pork belly cut into big chunks
- 4 eggs hard boiled and deep fried
- 2 dried mushrooms soaked overnight
- 100 g whole garlic skin intact
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup cooking oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 5 cups water hot
Heat cooking oil in a wok. Add sugar. Cook over medium heat. Stirring quickly to avoid burning.
When sugar turned into brown caramel, add garlic and mushrooms. Cook for a couple of minute.
Add pork and continue stirring so that all ingredients are coated with the caramel.
Add 1 cup of hot water. Let simmer for a couple of minutes.
Season with soy sauce, dark soy sauce and ground white pepper.
Add 2 cups of hot water. Lower the heat. Cook until boiling.
Transfer the dish to a pot. Add 2 more cups of water. Cook over low heat for 45 minutes.