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!
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