Updated Recipe: Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly - using a slow cooker

I won first prize at my work "Masterchef competition" today with my braised pork belly dish! In recognition of Harmony Day, my work social committee organised a "Flavours of the World" lunch. We were invited to bring a cultural dish to share and I thought I'd introduce my colleagues to delicious Taiwanese food. All dishes were entered into the competition, with prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

I was asked for the recipe of the winning dish and while I already have a blog post on the traditional way of making it as per my mum's instructions, I've since changed the way I cook this dish.

Given that not everyone has the kind of rice cooker I have, I thought I'd give it a go with the slow cooker and it worked just as well!

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Braised pork belly (using a slow cooker)

Main Ingredients 900g pork belly 1 cup of soy sauce 2 tbsp rice wine 350g of rock sugar (you can buy this in most Asian grocery stores) 6 eggs

Spice Mix 1 tsp five spice powder 1 tsp dried ginger powder 1 tsp dried garlic powder

Optional ingredients 3 cloves of garlic (or as much as you want) chopped spring onion sprinkle of chopped peanuts (for garnish) coriander (for garnish)

Method

  1. Hard boil the eggs.
  2. Place the rock sugar in the slow cooker.
  3. Meanwhile, cut up the pork belly into large pieces (about 4 cm long). Rub the spice mix and the rice wine all over the pork belly pieces. Place in the slow cooker on top of the rock sugar.
  4. Drain and peel the hard boiled eggs. Place the eggs in the slow cooker, amongst the pork. (If you are using garlic, you can put it in at this stage). Pour the soy sauce into the slow cooker, over all the ingredients.
  5. Set the slow cooker to High for approximately 2 hours (I do this to save time, but you can put it on Low for a longer period of time). Then turn to Low for another 2 hours (or until the meat is fork tender).
  6. Occasionally turn pork belly pieces and eggs to marinate all parts. Be very gentle or the eggs will get damaged! (If you are using spring onion, you can add it in the last hour).
  7. Serve with steamed rice, (garnish with chopped peanuts and coriander) and enjoy!

極品軒 Ji Pin Xuan - Taipei

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I'm currently holidaying in Taiwan and thought I'd take this opportunity to showcase the fantastic food Taiwan has to offer. First up - 極品軒 (Ji Pin Xuan) in ZhongZheng District in Taipei City. The interior was lovely.

The main event was the 烤方 House Special Roast Meat (small) NT$418. (Approx AUD$13.70)

This is a very rich and flavourful braised pork belly dish. It was accompanied by a plate of sliced buns. When a piece of pork belly is placed between two flaps of bun, this is what the Taiwanese call, "虎咬豬" (Ho ka ti) translated as "Tiger bites pig". The pork meat was succulent, the fat was deliciously oozy and the skin was tender, yet had a slight give to it. The perfectly balanced sauce was thick and indulgent - a delicious rice puller!

We couldn't not order a tray of 小籠包 (xiaolongbao - steamed bun filled with soup), as made famous by Taiwan's 鼎泰豐 Din Tai Fung restaurant.
The pot on the left contained some cooking oil, which was added to the dish on the right (清炒鱔魚 Stir Fried Eel NT$428) at the table while it was still hot. The wait staff then stirred the dish to evenly distribute the oil, which released delicious aromas.

We also ordered Braised Bean Curd in Brown Sauce and Clam Soup. I can't remember what the fish dish was called, but the sauce was incredible and the whole fish had been braised and slow cooked for so long that you could eat every part of the fish - even the bones! At the end of the meal, we were each given a complimentary bowl of sweet red bean soup :)

Address: 台北市衡陽路18號 Phone:(02)2388-5880~2

Morks

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I think it's time I reveal the restaurant that has been my favourite restaurant in Canberra for the past four years. I was going to say it is the hidden secret of Canberra, but then discovered it was the number 1 rated restaurant in Canberra on Trip Advisor.com.au. So I guess it's not as unknown as I first thought! Morks is a family-run Thai restaurant located in Florey and the hospitality is always warm and welcoming. It's the restaurant I always think of when there's a special occasion to celebrate or interstate visitors to entertain. I recommended Morks to my family when they visited me for a weekend. We went there on the first night and they loved it so much, they immediately booked again to come back the following night!

The menu selection is quite limited, but the trade off is you get high quality inventive dishes, which you know have been given that extra amount of care and precision.

The braised pork belly is hands down my favourite dish as it is consistently wonderful and I am always wowed by the sophisticated presentation. The pork belly with English spinach is constructed magnificently and infused with all the sweet and salty flavours of the delicious five spice pork reduction.  The boiled quail egg provides a perfect textural point of difference. The fried rice is laced with basil and chilli flavours, but I would have been more than happy with plain white rice to go with that mouthwatering reduction.
The red duck curry comes a close second. The crisp duck maryland rests beautifully on the crunchy rice cakes soaking in the lovely red curry sauce, and the dish is topped off with fried basil leaves. Lychees and tomatoes provide a burst of fruity flavour. Sometimes, however, the duck meat can be a little dry.
The beef mussamun curry is the best I've ever had. The beef is achingly tender and the roti is perfect for mopping up the delicious sauce. It is a very rich and satisfying dish so the mesclun salad is a well-considered accompaniment.
The lamb cutlets did not shine as much as the other dishes. The marinated flavours were very subtle and the dipping sauce, unfortunately, was not memorable. Luckily, the traditional sticky rice was perfect - I really enjoyed the springy texture of each grain.

At the end of the meal, Morks provided a complimentary lychee sorbet palate cleanser, which was refreshing and delightful.

Don't be misled by its suburban location, the Thai flavours are presented elegantly with modern styling. It's contemporary dining at a reasonable price.

Food Avenue rating: 9.5/10

Morks on Urbanspoon

Taiwanese braised pork belly

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I was feeling a little cheffy the other day, and thought I'd record my first attempt at cooking my mum's braised pork belly dish. This is a very traditional Taiwanese dish - and a simple recipe, but the results were mouthwatering (as a few friends and colleagues can now attest!)

Firstly, cut up and boil the pork belly.

Meanwhile, hard boil some eggs.

Then start assembling the ingredients in your rice cooker pot: pork belly, boiled eggs, chopped shallots*, garlic, rock sugar and soy sauce.

Put the rice cooker on and let it work its magic!

When the rice cooker ticks off, turn the pork belly gently to make sure it is completely coated with all of the marinade. You may need to put the rice cooker on two or three more times, depending on your taste.

*I found out later from Mum that I was supposed to put the shallots in at the very end to retain the fresh green colour.

And there you have it! Such a simple Taiwanese braised pork belly dish!

I hope you enjoyed my very first cooking post! :)

**Edit**

Here is the full recipe. The amount and ratio of ingredients really depends on your taste. I kind of made up the amounts because I never really measure when I'm cooking!

Braised pork belly

Ingredients 1.5 cups of soy sauce 300g of rock sugar 5 cloves of garlic 1 bunch spring onion/shallots 1kg pork belly Eggs

Cut up the pork belly into large pieces. Put pieces into a pot of boiling water. Skim off any scum that appears.

Boil pork for about 15-20 minutes, or until pork is firm. Meanwhile, hard boil the eggs.

Drain pork pieces and reserve liquid to use as a base for another dish (soup or whatever). Drain and peel the hard boiled eggs.

Transfer the pork pieces and the peeled eggs to the rice cooker. Add soy sauce and rock sugar. Turn on rice cooker. Once the cycle is finished, gently turn pork belly pieces and eggs to marinade all parts. It will probably need another cycle (or two) on the rice cooker. Add the spring onion before the last cycle.

Serve with steamed rice and enjoy!