Teochew Braised Pork Belly rice/ Lo Bak/ 卤肉饭
It’s been a long while since our family had lo-bak. Ah-mm used to cook a big pot with pork belly, extra pieces of lean meat (I don’t like those. haha!) and lots of eggs every 2-3 weeks when we were all still living together. At one time, there were 11 people in our household including our helper.. and dinner (and home) was always fun, interesting, and something to look forward to. The house was almost never quiet. Ah-mm would be watching her TV til late at night (as she does now), and Cheng Lip would be flying down the stairs to cook packets of instant noodles for supper. Alex and Michelle would be chilling in the adjacent room, and when Slimer was awake- and he rarely was- he would be plonked in front of his computer 打 game-ing. I still remember the “biu-biu-biu!!!!!!!!!!” that blasted on his speakers whenever he fought those enemies. And more distantly, I remember the time Slimer put Cheng Wu into the washing machine because the pesky toddler just wouldn’t shut up.
My family is a bit different.. but we have wonderful sibling relationships, even if Slimer refused to spend recess time with me on my first day of school in Primary 1 (he was in Primary 3). Well technically he fulfilled his duty, because Mom just told him to “meet” me during recess and made sure I knew where to go. So he just brought me to the tuckshop, made sure I was eating, and told me, 10 seconds later, “Ah-ger 你留在这里啊” while he ran off very quickly to play catching with his friends.
Whenever I think of my family, I think of home-cooked food. And whenever I think of home-cooked food, I think of Ah-mm, our Masterchef. And as I cooked this version of lo-bak for her yesterday, it made me happy that she took a bite and said, “好吃，好吃” and defended my cooking when 88 said it wasn’t salty enough. “lo-bak 都不用太咸”, she said. We called it “lo-bak” and not “lorrrr-bak” because we’re Teochew.
In other news, 88 everything also not salty enough la, but I cannot go against my principle by serving her sodium-laden food!
Total cost per serving: $2.05
What you need:
500g pork belly
4 hard boiled eggs
8 tau pok pieces (fried tofu puffs) or use tau kwa (firm tofu) if you prefer
1.5 tablespoons sugar (6 sugar sticks)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine the following (A):
1 litre stock or water (more if needed later)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
6 tablespoons hua diao jiu (Chinese cooking wine)
12 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
*You can get the star anise, cinnamon and cloves at Giant. They have this little packet with all you need for $0.55 (quite expensive by my budget standards but I don’t see myself using large amounts of these spices so $0.55 is still cheaper I guess). Picture after the recipe.
Heat up the oil in a deep saucepan and melt sugar on medium-high flame. After 3-4 minutes, sear pork belly pieces on both sides til slightly brown (about 4 minutes each side).
Remove the pork and pour away excess oil. Return the pork to the pan together with garlic, star anise, cinnamon and cloves.
Depending on your pot or saucepan, pour in enough liquid in (A) and bring to boil, then lower flame to smallest and simmer 1.5 hrs until meat is tender. Stir occasionally. Watch the stove every 10-15 minutes to make sure the pot doesn’t dry out. When water level goes down, add more water to just cover the meat.
At the last 5-10 minutes of simmering, add in hard boiled eggs, tau pok or tau kwa. (Leave overnight in the fridge for better taste!) If you can’t wait, slice pork belly into pieces and serve hot with rice or steamed buns.
How much I spent:
$5.60 for pork belly
$0.55 for spices
$1 for tau pok
$1 for eggs
Everything else from my pantry
Here are some pics to help you along. The spice packet that I bought- star anise, cinnamon, and cloves:
Braise the pork belly in whole pieces, then slice only after cooking:
-Use pork belly which is already sliced length-wise and not too thick. When cooking, cook the whole piece together and only slice into smaller pieces when ready to eat. Choose pork that is not too fatty since the texture will be melt-in-your-mouth anyway. I got the pork belly from Sheng Siong. They’re sliced fresh and come in nifty packages. The packages are then sold by individual weight.
-When covering the pot with water, do not add too much water. The water level should come up to just above the ingredients. You wanna braise the meat, not boil it.
-Pan-searing the meat in caramelised sugar enhances the taste and creates the melt-in-your-mouth texture. Some recipes skip this step but you don’t want to!
-If you’re serving the whole pot, remember to remove the star anise and cinnamon sticks before serving. What? You’ve never accidentally bitten on a star anise?
-Erm last tip: Remove the topmost fatty part including skin before eating. That’s how I eat pork belly. And it still tastes good!
The preparation time is worth it when you bite on a piece of melt-in-your-mouth pork belly that YOU cooked. This dish is not difficult, and definitely doable for a kitchen noob. Feel free to ask me any questions, and I have a confession: this is the first time I’ve cooked this, too!
I’m making this tomorrow!! Sounds simple enough! Dang, I’m hungry right now….
How did it go, Ruth? :) Thank you for trying my recipe!
My pork meat is not tender, please share a tip
pan-sear the meat in caramelised sugar and don’t skimp on the cooking time. if you followed my recipe above and it is still not tender, you will need to increase the cooking time.
I tried it yesterday and it was really soft tender and flavourful! Thank you so much for sharing. I didnt add the wine but it is still sooo good!
Jas- you made me wanna cook it again! Thanks for trying my recipe :)
Hi Chris, I made this today and it was super good. I’ve always liked this dish but didn’t think it would be so easy to make, with your good instructions of course!! Thank you!
So happy you tried this Dana! :) Thank you for letting me know it went well!
Trying it out now! Thanks for sharing! :)
Song Ji Hyo
I cook this today and the gravy is slightly bitter. Where did I go wrong?
Thanks for trying, CookingMum! I hope your kid(s) like it :)
Song- it really depends on the type of ingredients used, like there are different types of dark soy sauce, for example.
Song Ji Hyo
Chrissy, thanks for your reply. So could let me know which brand of dark soy sauce you used?
Must we cover the pot while simmering the meat ?
I use Kikoman dark soy sauce and oh I only only only use Plum Blossom brand hua diao wine. You can google image it! :)
Hi Chrissy, if I would to add some veg , which kind of veg would you recommend?
Does it even go with veg? Just want to eat healthier & watch my weight…haha…
Sorry Eva! I missed this comment! Hmmm… veg….. what is the point la. You are eating pork belly please! Haha! But really, I suggest having some simple stir fried cabbage on the side and not added to the pot? Veges absorb water really easily and they can become soggy and salty in the gravy.. not something you’d want! :)
Hi Chrissy, I so wanna try this out tonight. But I don understand how to pan sear the meat.. Do I caramelised the sugar first or rub the sugar on the pork and pan sear?
And also I heard that we must scald pork first before cooking.. Do we need to do the same for pork belly?
Heat up the oil in a deep saucepan and melt sugar on medium-high flame. After 3-4 minutes, sear pork belly pieces on both sides til slightly brown.
So yeah melt sugar first. No need to rub any sugar in any part of the pork and no need to scald. Just wash and pat dry :)
Gonna try this tomorrow :), but wont caramelizing the sugar and frying the pork make it “chao tar” ?
Hi Mike, sorry I missed this comment. It won’t be, if not I (and a few ladies before you!) wouldn’t have made it successfully! As always, watch the fire. How did yours go?
Hi Chrissy, the recipe is great. I tried half the portion of your recipe. Abit too greedy with the sugar, end up abit sweet but its still delicious. I added boiled egg and Tau kwa, the flavour didn’t get in maybe i need to cook abit longer.
Hi can we slice the meet before we cook it? is there a reason why it’s cooked without slicing it?
Hi Sylvia, sorry for the late reply. Cooking it ‘whole’ ensures it stays moist. If you slice it, you risk it shrinking and becoming rubbery.
I like Lor Bak so much so decided to cook it myself so I found this post via Google. I did exactly the same as you suggested and must admit it’s delicious! Thank you for the recipe!
Looks like I can’t add photos here to show my masterpiece :-)
The only question I have is: should I remove melted pork fat layer which appears on top of liquid? I left the pot in the fridge overnight and fat thickened so it’s easy to separate it.
Hello Roman.. I WANT TO SEE THE MASTERPIECE! You can actually post it on my Facebook page https://FB.com/budgetpantry and share it with the rest of my community. I’m sure everyone will be excited to see how your dish turned out! :) if I refrigerate it, I always remove the fat layer on top before reheating. You’re right, it’s easy to separate after overnight in the fridge and it’s less sinful that way. Thank you for trying my recipe!
Hello Chrissy, I’m going to attempt it tonight with shoulder part of pork instead of belly. Not so fatty but wonders whether it will work. Stay tuned.
Hey Caroline.. did it work?
Can use pork tenderloin instead ?
H…when simmering the pork in the pot , must we cover it wiz d pot cover?
Hi…when simmering the pork in the pot , must we cover it wiz d pot cover?