Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly Over Rice - Lu Rou Fan (滷肉飯)

I traveled to Taiwan for the first time when I was about 10-years-old.  Even though we were Taiwanese American and my parents cooked Chinese and Taiwanese dishes all the time at home, nothing quite beats being in Taiwan itself when it comes to the food.  It would be another decade before I ever visited again, and during those ten years, the dish that stuck out in my memory was this simple looking bowl of braised pork belly over rice that you could get from just about anywhere in Taiwan for less than $2 USD.

When we first bought our Instant Pot pressure cooker, one of the first things my husband wanted me to try to make was lu rou fan.  It took a while for me to get around to it though because my first stovetop attempt didn't come out the way I liked and it was SUCH a huge pain in the butt to cut up all the pork belly into tiny tiny pieces.  It still is, but at least this time it came out delicious! (*^ワ^*)Super happy with how one of my favorite comfort foods turned out, considering I was cobbling together my own version on the fly after reading a ton of different recipes over several weeks.  I also sometimes add diced eggplant to make myself feel better, but steamed broccoli also goes well with it.

makes about 15-20 servings using the Instant Pot


For the braised pork:
- 1.5 to 2 lbs pork belly
- 1 lb ground pork (or just use 3 lbs pork belly)
- 35 g rock sugar
- 1/3 cup light soy sauce
- 1/3 cup dark soy sauce
- 2 TB rice wine
- 3 medium shallots, finely chopped
- 10 shiitake mushrooms, diced into 1/4" cubes (if using dried, soak in warm water for about 10 minutes first)
- 2/3 cup fried shallots (buy or make your own here)
- 1 1/2 cups water (can also use plain chicken broth or Chinese master stock if you have some, or a combination of the liquids)
- spice bag with the following:
  • 3 slices of ginger
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (or black peppercorn as substitute)
  • 1 tsp orange peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
For serving:
- chopped cilantro for garnish
- cooked rice

Parboil the pork belly in boiling water for about 3-5 minutes and then rinse in cold water.  This step will make it much easier to cut into small pieces - I skipped this step when I first made it (as shown in the pic of raw pork below) and it was a huge pain to cut the raw pork belly, even with a sharp knife.

Slice the pork belly into 1/4" thick pieces.  Cut each of those slices into 1/4" or thinner pieces as if you were cutting bacon lardons.  It's ok if they aren't all the same size and if some are thicker than others.  Combine with the ground pork.

Turn on the sauté function of the Instant Pot and add half a tablespoon of oil to coat the bottom (if you fried your own shallots, you can use some of the leftover shallot oil here).  Once it is hot, add all the meat and brown it.

Place the spice bag ingredients into the spice bag, making sure it is securely closed.  Toss the spice bag along with the remaining braised pork ingredients, into the pressure cooker and stir to combine.  Make sure the spice bag is in the middle/submerged.  Cook for 14 minutes in the pressure cooker on high (meat/stew setting on Instant Pot).

Use natural release for 20 minutes once it is done, and then quick release the rest if you are short on time. Skim off the excess liquid fat/oil from the top (I skimmed off nearly two cups of oil since I had really fatty pork belly).

Remove spice bag and toss.  Ladle the braised pork over rice with some of the sauce, and garnish with cilantro.  Lightly pickled cucumbers in vinegar, preserved mustard greens, simple blanched/boiled plain veggies, or a hardboiled egg are great to go with this also! Leftovers freeze well - I freeze some in family-sized portions and some in individual portions for quick meals.

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