A traditional Filipino staple with a Taiwanese twist. That's how I would describe this next recipe. Pork Adobo is the lesser known cousin of Chicken Adobo which is a very popular Filipino dish that many people, outside of the Philippines, would recognize. Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly also known as Lu Rou (卤肉) is a similar dish with more spices added. My recipe combines the best of both dishes leading to a very tasty meal. Adding hard boiled eggs and deep fried tofu to this dish brings it up another level.
Some thoughts before you get into the recipe itself. Cutting the pork belly into cubes of about 1 inch makes it not fall apart as fast when simmering. Keep in mind that the meat will shrink about 30-40% in size. Making a bouque garni with the spices (except 5 spice) will make your life a lot easier when plating. There have been many times where I've inadvertently bit into a clove or star anise seed, although I like these flavours, biting into them isn't pleasant.
How to make it:
1. Put the pork belly into a large pot and add enough water to cover it all. Bring to a boil and continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes, occasionally stiring to move the meat around. The purpose of this step is to remove some of the excess oil from the fatty pork belly and to remove that scummy part that often comes when boiling meat. Once time is up, remove the meat and place it aside.
2. In a large pot, sweat the onions and garlic until transparent. Add bay leaves, black peppercorn, cloves, and star anise. (OPTIONAL step - make a bouquet garni with the spices so you can easily remove it once the dish is cooked.) Add in the pork belly and sauté for a few minutes.
3. Add the light and dark Soy sauce, vinegar, five spice powder and mix everything around, ensuring the meat is coated with the sauce. Continue sautéing for a few more minutes.
4. Add in the water, enough to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low/med. Simmer uncovered for the next 30 minutes.
5. If you have opted to add in the hard boiled eggs and/or deep fried tofu, add them now. If you wish for a thicker and slightly sweet sauce, add the brown sugar now as well and continue to simmer until the meat is fork tender. The eggs and tofu will soak up the sauce and are great to eat on their own!
6. Serve with a side of steamed rice. I sometimes also serve this dish with a side of spicy white vinegar on the side to dip the tofu and pork belly in. It gives it an additional layer of flavour and cuts some of the richness of the sauce. Enjoy!
Shepherd's pie for us North American people usually means some sort of ground beef mixture with gravy and veggies that is topped with a mashed potato topping and baked in the oven. But did you know, to be a real Shepherd's pie, it has to be ground lamb? If the meat base is beef, it's actually called Cottage pie. I love mashed potatoes and am always ready to eat anything that is covered in it. My version of this dish isnt very traditional but works for me and if you really want to cut corners, a bag of frozen mixed veggies works as a substitute for all the veggies I listed above.
1. Peel and cube the russet potatoes. Number of potatoes vary as russet potatoes vary in size. I would recommend against using the yellow Yukon gold or red potatoes as these types of potatoes dont quite mash very well. They become a bit gummy or pastey once mashed and I dont care for that consistency in my mashed potatoes. Boil off until fork tender. usually takes about 10-15 mins depending on the size of your cubes. Drain off and add butter, salt and white pepper and mash. Place to the side.
2. In a large pan, brown off the ground beef. I dont usually add any additional oil when doing this so there usually isnt too much excess oil that I need to drain off. Once browned, add garlic, worchestershire sauce, and cajun seasoning. Toss around to evenly coat the ground meat.
3. Add chopped veggies and the onion soup powder. If you dont have onion soup powder, the canned onion soup also works but I would only add about 3/4 of the can as its often a concentrated mix and can get very salty. If you opted for the frozen veggies, you may also want to add less of the canned soup as there will be extra water coming out of the frozen veggies at this point.
4. Add flour to the meat mixture and mix around, making a semi roux. Add in red wine and water (If you used the canned onion soup, omit water unless necessary) to make the mixture moist. You dont want it to be overly wet like a gravy.
5. Transfer into an oven safe baking dish and spread out evenly. Combine the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture in an even layer. Once assembled, you can now keep this in the fridge for 2-3 days until you are ready to bake.
6. Once you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 365 degrees F. bake the shepherd's pie for 30-45 minutes. Oven times vary depending on the state the pie was in prior to baking (i.e. if it was in the fridge for the last couple days then it'll take longer). You dont want the mashed potato topping to get brown, youre only looking to heat it through and "set" it.
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