Taiwanese braised pork belly.

I prefer fatty meats, and I suspect this predilection comes from my Taiwanese background. In Taipei, locals can be found noshing on small bowls of rice covered in a fatty minced pork  sauce; this is “Lu Rou,” or braised pork, a quintessential Taiwanese dish and favorite of my family. The process of making Lu Rou involves hours of low heat braising, but the resulting pieces of meat are tender, soft and rich in flavor. Be advised that this dish is fatty, meaty and really flavorful. If you’re looking for something that could be described as either “healthy,” or “light,” this dish is neither. But it is. so. good. Live a little.

The braising sauce: Shaoshing cooking wine, dark soy sauce, Chinese five spice (optional), star anise, rock sugar and dried chili peppers.

About three pounds of pork belly cut into two inch wide pieces. This cut is sometimes called “side pork” at Asian grocery stores.

Sear the pieces for 15 minutes.

Once the sides are golden and the rendered fat starts to brown in the pan, you’re done searing.

In a slow cooker or hard bottomed pot, add the meat (fat side up), a half cup cooking wine, a half cup dark soy sauce, one teaspoon Chinese five spice, four cloves of star anise, a half golf ball sized piece of rock sugar, four dried chili peppers broken in half, one tablespoon salt, a dash of oil and a teaspoon of peppercorns (or just pepper).

In the searing pan, saute four slices of garlic and four cloves of garlic on medium heat with the rendered pork fat.

 Add this mixture to the pot for extra flavor.

Add four cups of water, or enough to barely cover the meat.

And let it cook! If you are using a slow cooker, set it on low for 12 hours. You can set it on high and eyeball the meat after about five hours if you’re short on time. For braising in a pot, bring the mixture to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer on low for about four hours or until the meat is tender to your liking.

The above is eight hours in.

We boiled some eggs and added them (after peeling)  to the slow cooker at the nine hour cooking mark. We also turned the heat up to high because the cuts of meat were thicker than we thought.

After 12 hours of slow cooking. Look at that fat…

Remove, drain and plate the meat. Take a minute to just stick your face in the pot and inhale. Smells divine, right?

Lu Rou is traditionally served with pickled radish or other pickled vegetables. My intention was to find some pickled mustard greens, but I could only find the above. Rinse the pickled cabbage under warm water to remove any excess salt, and saute with two tablespoons of the fat/sauce mixture from the meat. Once the cabbage has absorbed the sauce and has dried in the pan, it’s ready to be paired with the dish.

Add cilantro, slice the eggs, and enjoy!


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