Aug 9, 2022

Shaoxing Braised Pork Belly 紹興豬肉

Praise the wok! I got a new wok a while ago, despite it's a wee bit oversized for my cabinet, the wok works like wonder. It's basically a non-stick pan but in wok form. It doesn't stick, doesn't really get sticky if the sauce has been dried up, and super easy cleaning.


That also means for this Shaoxing braised pork belly, first of all I don't have to worry about the sauce gets cling on to the surface during extended braising time. Even though the sugary sauce hardens and turns sticky towards the end, just a few rinses under hot water, everything's nice and clean. Invest in a nice cookware if you may, it really unload tons of hassles in the kitchen.


Shaoxing braised pork belly 紹興豬肉 - 


Shaoxing braised pork belly


Ingredients?

  • 750 grams skin-on pork belly
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 1/2 cup rock sugar/crystal sugar (use 1/3 cup for less sweet result)
  • 3 tablespoons aged Shaoxing wine
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups hot water


How?  

Slice the pork belly to thicker pieces. Try to aim for partial fat, partial lean meat, and with a bit of skin on every piece. Must use skin-on pork because it's key to this recipe, otherwise the consistency and texture will be off without the collagen released from the skin.  


Skin-on pork belly

Peel and slice the ginger. Destem and slice the scallion into shorter sections, but take one string and give it a fine chop, which will be used as garnish in the end. 


Take a wok or a clay pot, add in pork along with ginger slices and scallion sections. No need to pour in any extra oil, the pork fat itself will do the work.


Turn to medium heat and cook till the fat starts to render. Continue to sear and flip half way through. Cook till the pork turns slightly browned on both sides.


Searing pork belly with aromatics

Scoop out the pork, ginger slices, and scallion. Drain out all the oil. The fat will continue to render during the braising process, so we don't want it to overflow with pork fat.


Still using the same wok or same pot, add in rock sugar or crystal sugar and pour in about 1/2 cup of hot water. Turn to medium heat and cook till all the sugar has been dissolved. The consistency will appear slightly thickened here due to the high sugar content. 


Cooking down rock sugar

Add the pork, ginger slices, and scallion back to the wok/pot. Give it a quick stir and cook for about one minute. 


Cooking pork belly in sugary water

Add in 1 bay leaf, 2 star anise, 3 tablespoons of aged Shaoxing wine, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce. Also pour in 2 extra cups of hot water.


Braising Shaoxing pork belly

Stir till evenly blended. Turn up the heat and wait till it starts boiling.


Lower the heat to keep it at a lightly bubbling stage. Cover with lid and cook for about one hour.


Remove the lid and check on the braise. If it appears too saucy still, turn up the heat to speed up the process. Cook till the sauce has been thickened, gooey, or more so sticky.


Reducing and condensing the sauce for Shaoxing braised pork belly

If there're more fat on the bottom, don't use it. Only scoop out the pork belly along with the sauce and garnish with chopped scallion.


Shaoxing braised pork belly

It can be very sticky. In fact, once it cools down, the meat might even cling to one another due to the glue-like sugary coating. The edge also hardens and turns slightly crunchy like brûléed sugar, which tastes amazing. 


Shaoxing braised pork belly

No worries if you're going to enjoy it the meal after. Despite that you might loss one degree of two on the crunchy coating, the sweet and savory flavor still standing strong.   


Other recipes using Shaoxing wine:


Aug 3, 2022

Avocado and Shio Kombu Shrimp Stir-Fry

This dish was inspired by a okonomiyaki flavor I saw at a local restaurant. If you're somewhat familiar with okonomiyaki, you'll know that avocado is definitely not one of the common ingredients used. That's what made an impression on me.


The flavor combo got a modern twist, somewhat fashionable too. They cook the avocado, tomatoes, and shrimps together as the main ingredients for the okonomiyaki. So I took that idea, put in some modifications, and made it into a regular stir-fry dish. Turned out pretty good, but note that this dish is better consumed at once, otherwise avocado can get darker or even bitter as time goes by.


Avocado and shio kombu shrimp stir-fry - 


Avocado and shio kombu shrimp stir-fry


Ingredients?

  • 1 avocado (semi-ripe works best)
  • 12 shrimp
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 50 grams shio kombu 塩昆布
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic clove
  • 1 tiny pinch salt
  • Small pinch dried seaweed flakes


How?

Peel and devein the shrimp. Peel and discard the seed of avocado, then cube it. Destem and dice the tomato. Peel and chop the garlic cloves.


Shio kombu

Take a non-stick pan, drizzle in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn to medium heat. Add in chopped garlic and tiny pinch of salt. Just a very small amount because the shio kombu will be the main flavor provider instead. Cook till aromatic but not burnt.


Add in tomatoes and stir once a while, cook for one minute. 


Cooking tomato and chopped garlic

Add in the shrimp and cook till just changed color. 


Cooking shrimp and tomato

Transfer cubed avocado and shio kombu and give it a quick stir-fry. It happens pretty fast here. Taste and see if it needs any more salt, adjust accordingly.


Cooking avocado and shio kombu

Plate and sprinkle some dried seaweed flakes on top. Best to consume immediately, and definitely not overnight because the taste of avocado can deteriorate soon after.


Avocado and shio kombu shrimp stir-fry

It's nice to get a sudden inspiration when dining out. It's also a fun process to me trying to recreate or modify the dishes to make it more family-friendly. How about you? Ever get the urge when seeing something at the restaurant and feel like you can totally do it at home?   


Extended reading: