Thursday 9 July 2020

Braised Pork on Rice - Lu Rou Fan (卤肉饭)

It may not be a National Dish but this is the ultimate comfort food and distinctly Taiwanese.  I first ate this in Taipei in a restaurant that cooked it up in big vats that were simmering away all day.  People queue out of the door where they are handed a little slip of paper and pencil to tick which sides they want with their steaming bowl of savoury pork.  It is traditionally cooked and served with whole boiled eggs but a gentleman next to me in the queue convinced me that a runny fried egg was the way to go.  The mix of salty belly pork, rice and silky egg yolk is just incredible and so my Lu Rou Fan is not cooked with boiled eggs.  You can boil and peel some eggs and add them at stage 7 if you wish. 

You really can't substitute belly pork for a leaner cut and you definitely can't swap out Shiitake Mushrooms for any other kind of mushroom.  In Chinese, Shiitake mushroom directly translates as "Fragrant Mushroom" and is where the main scent of the dish comes from.

Ingredients: (Serves 2-3)

The Bulk
1 Onion (diced)
500g Belly Pork
1 Pack of Shiitake Mushrooms (usually around 125g)
3 Cloves of Garlic (bashed)
3 Slices of fresh Ginger
1 Egg per person
Handful of fresh Chive

The Sauce
4 tbs Shaoxing Wine
3 tbs Dark Soy Sauce
2 tbs Light Soy Sauce
3 tsp Brown Sugar
2 Cups of Water

The Spices
2 tsp Sichuan Peppercorns
0.5 tsp Black Peppercorns
3 Star Anise
2 Sticks of Cinnamon
6 Cloves
3 Bay Leaves

Oil for frying


1) When using belly pork the Chinese always like to blanch the meat in boiling water to "remove impurities".  I don't know if this actually does anything but I tend to follow suit - it makes the dicing much easier either way.  Boil the meat for a few minutes and then dice into cm lardons.

2) Add a tablespoon of oil to a heavy bottom pan and fry the Sichuan Peppercorns, Black Peppercorns and Cloves.  Once fragrant, remove these spices from the oil and tie up in a cheese cloth - I find that my tea leaf infuser ball does the trick.  Ultimately these are the spices that nobody really wants to bite into, but are essential to flavour the dish.  Set this aside for later.

3) Add the rest of the spice ingredients to the oil and fry until fragrant once more.  Add the diced onion and fry for a few minutes.

4) Dice your Shiitake mushrooms and add to the pot.  Once everything has had time to fry for a few minutes add the diced pork belly.

5) De-glaze the pan with the Shaoxing wine before adding the two soy sauces and the sugar.  Simmer for a few minutes and then add the water.

6) Reintroduce the spices you fished out earlier in the cheese cloth and cover.  Simmer on low for 2 hours stirring occasionally. 

7) Remove the lid and crank the heat up to thicken the sauce (if needed!) to a consistency that will both sit on top of the rice and also slowly sink through it - In other words, you don't want a watery sauce!

8) Serve over plain boiled rice.  Fry an egg and place it on top.  Drizzle some sauce from the pan over the egg and then sprinkle generously with freshly chopped chives.

Any simple steamed green will go on the side quite easily.  Bok Choi is probably the vegetable of choice but broccoli or french beans work just as well.

1 comment:

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