Dong Po Rou – Braised Pork Belly (东坡肉)
I first came across Dong Po Rou when visiting Westlake in Hangzhou. It was very misty over the lake and the tour guide suggested we should have an early lunch and wait for the mist to lift. It was a restaurant by the side of the lake. We were served Dong Po Rou in a small delicate bowl with a cover. Upon lifting the cover, we were greeted with the sight of a shimmering lump of meat. The meat was sweet and savoury and super tender. The skin was juicy and the sauce was, oh so, flavoursome. It was so tasty, we had to ask for another serving. Since then, whenever we see Dong Po Rou on the menu, we just have to order it. Here is a recipe on how to make this at home.
Video Link: https://youtu.be/zX_mwQnA7og
- 500 gm slab of pork belly (with skin)
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1/3 cup cooking wine
- 40 gm rock sugar
- Ginger slices (lots)
- Place the slab of pork belly in a pot of water and bring it to the boil. Blanch the pork in the boiling water for a couple of minutes and remove. The idea is to solidify the shape of the meat.
- Cut the meat into 2” cubes. For the offcuts, slice them thickly. Tie each cube with twine. The idea is to ensure the meat keeps its shape through the long simmering process.
- Choose a pot that will fit the all the cubes snugly. Place the ginger slices at the base of the pot. (Optional: If you like the taste of spring onion, you may add strands of spring onion at the base of the pot beneath the ginger).
- Add the offcuts to form a base. This will not only help prevent the pork cubes from burning, they are also delicious in the sauce, so don’t throw them out.
- Place the cubes in the pot, with the skin side facing down. Make sure they fit together snugly in the pot.
- Add cooking wine, light and dark soy sauces and rock sugar.
- Add hot water to the level just covering the meat.
- Bring the water to the boil, then lower the heat and allow the meat to simmer for 90 minutes.
- Flip the cubes over with the skin facing up and continue to simmer for another 90 minutes. Baste the skin from time to time as the water level would have reduced.
- Carefully remove the pork cubes to a serving dish with the side side up. You may choose to serve each individual cube in a small bowl. Cut the twines.
- Pour the sauce into a small bowl through a sieve to separate the ginger, spring onion and offcuts. The fat will float up in the sauce. Remove as much fat as you can using a spoon and you should end up with half a bowl of delicious flavoursome sauce.
- Pour some sauce over the skin of the meat and serve to guests. Yum!
- Pour the rest of the sauce over the remaining ginger, spring onion and offcuts (for own consumption).