Saturday, July 30, 2011

東坡肉 (Slowly Braised Pork Belly)

東坡肉 (read as dong po rou) is Chinese-style braised pork belly, and has been a family favourite since n-years ago.

Photo credit to my dinner guest - Jonathan Liu
I always had the impression that dong-po-rou is hard to prepare, but when cravings kicked in one day and I started looking up the recipe, I realized that it was pretty easy.

I've since cooked this thrice, and my brother sometimes still request for it. This recipe is a definite keeper! ;)

東坡肉 (Slowly Braised Pork Belly)
Recipe adapted from Almost Bourdain and modified by The Bakeanista

1 kg pork belly, skin on
150 g scallions (spring onions / green onions), cut into half
50-80 g ginger, skin peeled and sliced
500ml Shaoxing wine
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
250-500ml water
100g rock sugar
1 cinnamon bark
1 star anise
2 dried mandarin peel
4 bay leaves
5 cloves of garlic, with skin on and cracked
6 dried chilies

1) Cut the pork belly into two equal sizes to fit the pot.

2) Put the pork belly in a pot of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. This step is to get rid of the impurities. Remove the pork belly and set aside.

3) Pour away the boiling water from the pot and line the base with scallions and sliced ginger.

4) Lay the pork belly (skin side down) on top of the ginger and scallion. Mix the wine, soy sauces (light and dark) together and pour in the pot together with the rock sugar. Add some water (about 250-500ml) to ensure 2/3 of the pork is submerged in the water.

5) Bring the master stock to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer with lid on for 2 hours. Turn the pork once half way through the cooking.

6) Remove the pork belly and reserve the master stock. Steam the pork belly in a steamer on high heat for 30 minutes.

7) Serve pork belly with the master stock.

Oh, the fatty goodness! :P


DISCLAIMER: According to one of Australia's most influential chef - Neil Perry, 'master stock' is a sauce in which the ingredient is first cooked and allowed to cool down. This allows the flavour to start permeating the skin, but not to reach deep into the flesh; the result is a silky texture and meat with just a hint of flavour. In China, some master stock are generations old by virtue of the fact that the old base is boiled and added to the next use (sourced from Food Source).

NOTE: The master stock can be reused again in any instances you wish, but I personally would rather prefer to start again from scratch due to hygience purposes.


Michelle Chin said...

My recipe is quite similar to yours too. :)

Anonymous said...

i doubt your stock is master stock though.


The Bakeanista said...

Thanks for pointing that out, anonymous. I adapted the recipe from another blog as clearly stated above, and it didn't cross my mind to change that one particular term.

Although by definition, my master stock is not "stored and reused in the future as a stock for more poachings", the ingredients are similar to that of a master stock which could be the reason why Almost Bourdain labelled it as a Master Stock.

On second thoughts, I don't usually get to store my stock anyways, considering I have a brother who loves heaps of the stock to go with his mountain of rice.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the first anonymous poster's comment. Doesn't mean you have to use the term master stock just because your recipe is adapted from almost bourdain's. A master stock doesn't have a rule that underlines it must have certain ingredients to qualify as one.

It's just misleading for readers who aspire to be amateur cooks. Why label it as 'master stock' when it's just.... stock? Just sayin'

msihua said...

Man you rock! That looks absolutely delicious!

The Bakeanista said...

Hehe, thanks I-hua! The "master stock" was fab that's why! Haha, your thick thick version looks just as good. ;)

Michelle Chin said...

Dear anonymous, the ingredients of her master stock is the same as the one provided by the link. Also, who re-uses their stocks these days? My mom did not do that to her master stock either. I used to prepare a huge pot of master stock but that is to be used only once. I do not think most kitchens would reuse their master stocks because of hygienic purposes. It's like wearing your clothes again after using them two days in a row.

Considering that she can prepare this recipe from scratch, you should congratulate her instead. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to prepare this Chinese dish? You have to pick the right cut of belly. You have to get the freshest pork. You have to simmer it slowly in the master stock, then steam it carefully... It's a lot of time. A lot of work. And you can only pray it works.

A lot of people at her age cannot even cook. Do you know that?

So, cut her some slack. Cut us food bloggers some slack. Chefs in Le Bernardin and Per Se can make mistakes. A kitchen can have a bad day. Why? Because we are humans. We are so imperfect that way.

And if i have accidentally injured your feelings, I apologize.

- An amateur cook as well, Michelle

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll adhere to congratulating the baker. Congratulations on cooking up a dish and sharing the recipe with the world.

Most master stocks are passed on from generations to generations and many generations to come and I appear to have one, hence my defensive comment against the use of the label "master" stock. Restaurants in Australia do use master stock and the reason being the stock itself is undrinkable as a conventional stock or soup. Why? It has a huge amount of preservative called salt. A lot of salt. Together with easy techniques; boiling, skimming, freezing, it is safe to consume. How do you think cured meats are made?

Anonymous said...

Dear M Chin,

Are you aware of the chinese term for "master stock" and its true meaning in chinese?

And as a matter of fact some restaurants do practice the reuse of base stock to make them master stock, some continue using the stock for years.

I think anomymous is merely trying to point that out so that other readers who read blogs to learn things can be better educated.

The Bakeanista said...

Dear anonymous-es,

Thank you all (or perhaps just one) for contributing and sharing your knowledge on the "Master Stock vs Stock" term. It is my mistake for not taking into consideration how one extra word can make such a big difference when adapting the recipe from Almost Bourdain.

I, myself too learnt something new today. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.. Seems like there's a war going on.

Michelle Ng, I think you should accept critique openly and break down all the comments made anonymously. I do agree with the misuse of culturally sensitive content being ignorant. For example, I despise people who insist that sparkling wines, which aren't from the region of Champagne, are called champagne.

If you're an avid cook, hard is as hard is. But that's another issue.

However, as a passionate lover of food and history, I think being involved in such discourse is beneficial for every one instead of seeing it as a threat to bloggers. There was no direct attack that I can see of, unless there's been an ongoing notion that bloggers and traditional media has a clash over the Internet.

-from an anonymous person that goes by the name of Edward

Michelle Chin said...

Thanks for the information and the rationale, anonymous-es.

Michelle Chin said...

Salt? The thing that preserves master stock is the fat rendered from the fats.

Anonymous said...

Fat can act as a sealant and stops further bacteria from penetrating the stock during storage, fat is not a preservative but mostly used as an emulsify when the fats float on top and quickly cooled.

Salt will force osmosis, dehydrating microorganisms and therefore killing them.

The Bakeanista said...

Edward, I do not understand why you're saying that I am not accepting criticism openly?

In reference to my earlier comment:
Thank you all (or perhaps just one) for contributing and sharing your knowledge on the "Master Stock vs Stock" term. It is my mistake for not taking into consideration how one extra word can make such a big difference when adapting the recipe from Almost Bourdain. I, myself too learnt something new today.

I meant it, sincerely. I have even changed the term in my blog post because I realised that taken into consideration the meaning of master stock in chinese, it does make a vast difference. If that is not considered as accepting criticism, I do not know what is. :)

Anonymous said...

M Ng oh-shi- my bad lol.. I skipped all the content and just went to read the comments and replied.

But I don't think you should've taken the term 'master' off, just have a disclaimer at the bottom stating that master stock is to be re-used etc etc. saw your tweet regarding luke nguyen, he did clarify that restaurants re-use it..

M Chin, after some research done today (cause I was bored on the train and found out salt and sugar are basic preservatives used ever since man started to uh.. preserve things)

I think any stock or any other thing for that matter which has a lot of salt content will preserve itself at length. It's just basic science, almost nothing survives in a salty environment unless it's some super bug. e.g. salt pans and the dead sea haha.

Soy sauce itself has high levels of salt, that's why it doesn't spoil without refrigeration.

-from an anonymous person that goes by the name of Edward

nana0709 said...

fingers itchy plus i'm too bored!!!!! just wanted to post this for everyone's sake really... I believe different chefs have different ways of preserving and salt is just one of them..


Michelle Chin said...

Salt is rarely used in as an ingredient in master stock. Soy sauce and sugar is but if they are good preservatives, we would not need to reboil it before keeping it away.

The ways to keep it from rotting it is the glob of fat on the top layer (which is the trad. way, according to my mom), or reboiling it each time before sealing it in a container and freezing it.

I know that salt and sugar is used to preserve things. Thanks for reminding me that but as far as I know, you don't put tonnes of salt to preserve stock. Not sure about you , when I reuse stock,I reboil them before freezing them indefinitely or just leaving the fatty layer on top before putting it in the fridge.

And oh, fat is used to extend the shelf life of truffles. :) Because I used butter, my truffles had their freshness extended from 1 week to 6 months. Just saying

Michelle Chin said...

Like you, edward, I've done some research as well. After going through some websites such as meishi china and chi he shohu, I saw that some people use salt to preserve the stock, some emphasize the importance of the layer of "slick" or "fats" on top but everyone agrees with re-boiling it constantly.

I've also read a couple of articles about the perils of not keeping the masterstock properly, which is why some people do not use it these days but as you have said some restaurants do use it.

And the video that nana give was really helpful but the video deals with a vietnamese master stock and not a chinese master stock. Most chinese master stock recipes include water in it and do not add salt. Having said that, I did came across chinese recipes that use one to two tablespoons of salt and even MSG.

I apologize once more if I sounded really headstrong at some point but I would still call it as a masterstock because of the ingredients and the fact that it is reserved for future uses. And I apologize for my ignorance as well. I think I should not have said that "who re-uses their stock these days" because when I looked back at my own master stock recipes, I used my stock three times. :) But then, I did not add any salt in my stock or do anything to it but to reboil it each time after using it. My emotions got the better of me and I thought that it was pretty harsh that ellie of almost bourdain was implied in a such a manner.

Nonetheless, I would still call it as a master stock just because the ingredients form the base of the master stock and every other chef who makes it calls it the master stock. And edward did point out something really crucial: That you can call it a master stock as long as you reuse it.

To conclude, you and the other commentors have a point. I think thanks to this debate, I learn something new. I hope this would be the end of this interesting discourse and I look forward for more.

By the way, edward, are you the edward_tik on twitter?

Anonymous said...

yes i am edward_tik on twitter.. just got a notification you're following me haha

yea all this debate's only beneficial, no reason to see it as threat to anyone. not that i'm implying there was a threat to you and other fellow bloggers..


Click on 'OLDER POSTS' for more! :)