Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tau Ew Bak (Braised Soy Sauce Pork)

Tau Ew Bak (Braised Pork in Soy Sauce) is a very popular Penang Hokkien dish. You can say it's pretty much comfort food for us Hokkien people, as much as meatloaf and chicken noodle soup is for Americans. My grandma used to make this for dinner quite often, while I was growing up in Penang and the smell of a pot of Tau Ew Bak, simmering on the kitchen stove never fails to bring back many fond childhood memories. I tried making some last week and while it wasn't exactly the same as my Ah Mahs (grandma) Tau Ew Bak, I must say that it turned out way better than I expected. Let me share the recipe with all of you.

This is what you need to make a pot of Tau Ew Bak. About 3 strips of pork belly (some people would use short ribs or other parts, but to get an authentic tasting pot of tau ew bak, you MUST use pork belly), garlic, shitake mushrooms, hard boiled eggs, soy sauce mix (I will show you how to make that later on), whole peppercorns, 1 or 2 sticks of cinnamon and 1 or 2 star anise.

Now, we need to prepare the soy sauce mixture. Measure out about 1/4 cup of dark soy sauce.

Add in about 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Next, add in 2 tablespoons of premium soy sauce. Mix it all together and set it aside.

Heat up the wok and pour in a little bit of oil. Add in the pork belly, garlic (you do not need to peel them), some whole peppercorns, cinnamon and star anise. Saute them until the pork is lightly browned and aromatic. I believe this is done to take away the gamey smell that is sometimes present in certain pork cuts.

Once the pork is lightly browned, add in the soy sauce mixture.

Saute the pork until it is all covered with the mixture. Allow the sauce to thicken. Keep an eye on the sauce and be careful not to burn it.

Once the sauce nicely caramelized, add in about 3 cups of water.

This is the time when you can add in the shitake mushrooms (optional). Allow it to go to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn down the heat to low. Let it simmer for about one and a half hours.

About 10 minutes before it is done, add in some peeled hard boiled eggs. Allow it to cook for a little bit more, then its done!

It's so good, we just ate that with some steamed white rice and sambal belacan (pounded chilis with toasted shrimp paste). The sambal belacan is of course optional, but most Penang people would swear that it's the best way to eat tau ew bak. Try it, it's homestyle cooking, at it's best! :D


Heatherfeather said...

This looks really good! I wish pork belly were not quite so fatty - it is yummy. I suppose it is worth it for the treat once in a while though, right? ;)

I love these step by step photo lessons :)

Simply June said...

Mmm.. yums! I made this a few weeks back, using short ribs.. urs definitely looked better than mine!

Charlene n Kevin said...

Heather: I guess you could use short ribs instead of pork belly, that's way healthier. But then again, what the heck! We only live once!On with the pork belly...it won't hurt, once in a while! Hahaha!

June: Which type of tau ew bak did you make? This thick sauce Penang type or the one with more gravy?

Simply June said...

I made the one with lotsa gravy..i think.. u made the thick sauce one? no wonder urs looked better...

Sara Reid said...

hey very nice post..!!! I made this before 1 week but it was not looking like this.. You have given recipe in very discriptive manner.. I will again try the another one...

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