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By October 16, 2015 , , ,

Steve and I love a good feed, but a good feed out costs money and we cannot afford it every night, so I’ve turned to recreating restaurant dishes at home. One night, we’re craving for pork pelly, but I didn’t have the foresight to prep the pork belly to make the crispy pork belly. So I’ve returned to my roots again and decided to braise it instead.

This time around, I was craving for a sticky and sweet braise instead of the Teochew braise that is more aromatic and salty. As I let me mind wander back to the many wonderful dishes I had when I was younger, Dong Bo Rou stood out.

Named after Su Dong Bo, and ancient Chinese poet, the origin of this dish has taken on a bit of a myth, though it is well-documented. Anyway, Su Dong Bo was a scholar and court official during the Song Dynasty, renowned today for his brilliance in poetry, calligraphy and writings in Chinese literary history.

However, he was demoted for criticising the emperor and sent away from court in exile. One day, he was so engrossed in a game of Chinese chess with an old friend that he forgot all about the pork belly that he was braising on his stove. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the dish he thought had been ruined turned out to be even more tender and tastier than expected. Thus, Dong Bo Pork was born.

Anyway, this dish is now famous all over the world, especially with how it was served as square cubes of pork belly. It’s great over a bowl of rice or with man tou (Chinese-style bun) but the lengthy cooking time is a definitely put-off, especially when you’re only cooking for two and work 40 hours a week.

So I’ve modified this recipe by omitting the man tou, and cut up the pork belly into small rectangular slices (about 2 cm thick). The smaller slices definitely aid in reducing the cooking time, but the end product is equally juicy, tender and sticky.

It was slightly oily though, so it may be good serve with a side of stir-fry Chinese broccoli, and definitely over a bowl of white jasmine rice.

Quick and Easy Dong Bo Rou

(Recipe modified from Life is Great)

2 strips of pork belly, skin on, cut into 2cm pieces.
Vegetable oil for frying
1 sprig spring onion, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 inches ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
100 grams rock sugar or brown sugar
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 cup Shaoxing wine
2 cups chicken/vegetable stock
boiling water (to scald pork)

Bring a kettle of water to boil. Set a wire rack in the sink and arrange the pork belly pieces on it.

Bring a medium sauce pan heat to medium high and add peanut oil. Sauté the spring onion, ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, scald the pork belly pieces on all sides with the boiling water. Add the sugar to the pan and stir constantly till sugar melts. Add the wine and soy sauces. Once boiling, reduce to low and pour in half the stock or water. Mix well.

Place the pork belly pieces skin side down in the pan. Top up with the rest of the stock. The liquid must at least almost cover the pork. Add water if necessary. Increase heat to medium high and wait for the liquid to come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to the lowest simmer, cover and braise for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, flip the pork belly pieces and continue braising, covered, for another 30-40 minutes, basting the skin occasionally, until pork is tender enough to be broken with a pair of chopsticks.

Skim off any extra oil from the sauce in the pan. Whisk the reduced sauce while the pan is still hot. If you prefer more gravy, add boiling water bit by bit to get your preferred gravy consistency. Remove and let stand. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

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