Monday, April 3, 2017

Rich Luscious Dark Soy Caramel Pork Belly serve with Chinese Steamed Buns

"Mum, can you cook pork belly for me?"

"What? Pork belly again?"

The vegetable-loving me thought I just cooked Chinese soy braised pork belly (红烧肉) specially for my meat-loving son a while ago at here and now, I have to cook pork belly again! FAINT!

Alright, I need some form of motivation! Maybe, a little creativity too... So, I thought... instead of 红烧肉, I shall cook pork belly in a different way.

I'm thinking that I should be a little outrageous this time! And so I created an Asian fusion Tau You Bak... fusing the concepts from 1) the traditional Hokkien Tau Yew Bak (Dark Soy Braised Pork Belly) which is also known as Lor Bak 卤肉 but without the hard-boiled eggs and the fried bean curd because my son is not a fan of hard-boiled eggs and bean curd 2) Kong Bak Bao 扣肉包 but without the spices! 3) caramel chicken that I have cooked previously at here but of course, not with chicken!

Here, I'm braising pork belly with a simple dark caramel soy sauce and just the finishing sauce itself is so rich, sticky and luscious... So mouthwatering good that the vegetable-loving me couldn't even resist dipping the buns into the deep caramel sauce and enjoy them!

caramel pork belly kong bak bao pau
My Asian fusion, Caramel Kong Bak Bao!
caramel pork belly kong bak bao pau
Inside the rich coating of dark caramel sauce is these chunks of tender melty pork belly.
Naughty! naughty! :p

To enjoy these sticky pork belly to the fullest, I have made some plain fluffy Chinese steamed burger buns to sandwich the pork belly and serve.

The Chinese steamed burger buns that I have made to eat with these pork belly...
Plain yet fluffy and delicious!
caramel pork belly kong bak bao pau
caramel pork belly + freshly steamed bao = yummy caramel kong bak bao!

Without saying much...

Here's a video showing how I made the steamed buns.

Here's a video showing how I cooked this Asian fusion pork belly.

Here are the recipes.

Serves 6-8

Dark Soy Caramel Pork Belly (Caramel Kong Bak with no spices)
1 kg pork belly, cut into 5-6 cm square chunks
1 tbsp oil for brushing
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
4 tbsp garlic mince
1/2 cup (120ml) thick dark soy sauce*
3-4 cm ginger, washed but no need to peel, sliced into 2 thick slices
adequate boiling hot water to cook the pork until tender

*if unavailable, substitute with 1/3 cup (80 ml) Cheong Chan dark caramel sauce or kecap manis plus 2 tbsp (30ml) regular dark soy sauce

Soak pork belly in adequate cool tap water for about 1 hr at room temperature to remove any blood or bad smells from the pork. Use paper towels to pat and dry off any moisture on the pork very thoroughly. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Heat a large cooking pot (preferably a pot with light coloured base) with medium high heat until the pot is hot enough. Apply the base of the pot with a thin layer of oil as this step will help the pork to release more oil later. Cook pork belly with its skin side contacting the heated pot and cook until the pork releases its fat and golden brown at the edges. If the pot is too small, you will have to cook your pork belly in 2-3 batches. Transfer the seared pork into a plate. Set aside.

Allow the pork fat to remain in the pot and reduce cooking heat to low. Add sugar. As the sugar melts in the pot, quickly use a silicon spatula or a wooden spoon to scrap the caramelised brown bits off the base of the pan and allow the sugar to dissolve into a brown sauce. Keep stirring to avoid the sugar from burning. When the sugar is completely dissolved, add garlic and cook with for about 1 min or until fragrant.

Return the seared pork into the pot. Add soy sauce continue to cook and stir for about 2 mins making sure that the pork is all well coated with the sugar and sauce. Then, add ginger.

If you are using a pressure cooker to cook, transfer all into a pressure cooker. If you are using the same cooking pot to cook, you don't have to do any transferring.

To cook until the pork is tender, pour hot water (about 2 cups, 500ml) into the pork (in the pressure cooker**; or the same cooking pot***) making sure that the pork is completely covered with water. Mix well.

**If you are using a pressure cooker, cook pork belly with medium pressure for 40 mins or until the pork is tender enough to your taste.
***If you are using the same cooking pot, reduce cooking heat to low and simmer for at least 1 hr (60-90 mins or more) with the lid on or until the pork is tender enough for your taste. Check water level. Stir in more boiling water if the water level is not high enough to cover the pork.

When the pork is tender enough...

***Remove the lid if you are using the same cooking and increase heat to medium heat to cook and reduce the sauce for about 15-20 mins or until the sauce has thickened.
**If you had used a pressure cooker, transfer all in the pressure cooker into a large cooking pot or wok and cook with medium high heat for about 15-20 mins or until the sauce has thickened.

Remove ginger and serve with steamed white buns.

Steamed Chinese White Buns

Makes 18
265ml (1 cup + 1 tbsp) water
25ml vegetable oil, preferably something light like canola oil
500g Hong Kong flour or any low protein (7-9%) bleached flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder, preferably double acting baking powder
1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast

Place water, oil, flour, baking powder, sugar and yeast according to this order into a breadmaker and use dough setting to knead and prove the dough for 1 hr.

If breadmaker is not available, kneading by hand is possible. Combine flour, baking powder, yeast, sugar in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the flour mixture, add water and oil mix to form a dough. Transfer dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead to form an elastic and smooth dough (at least 20 mins) and then let it rise for 1 hr.

When the dough is ready, divide into 18 portions. To shape, roll and stretch portions of dough into smooth balls. Using a rolling pin, roughly roll each portion into a long oval shape. Fold it into half and press gently to secure the shape of the bun. Repeat shaping with the rest of the portions.

Place each bun on a small piece of baking paper and then arrange them into the steaming rack and allow the bun to rest above lukewarm water (about 37°C) for about 10-20 mins or until they look puffy.

While waiting, if you are using the stove for steaming, set water to boil for the steaming later. Steam bun for about 10-20 mins until done. The steam timing varies if you have multiple layers of baos to steam. The layer that is closest to the direct steam will take 15 mins to cook. When ready, remove the buns immediately from the steamer and serve warm.

Leftovers can be kept in fridge or freezer with cling wrap and cover. To freeze, allow buns to cool completely at room temperature. Wrap each bun in each small freezing bag and place them in the freezer. To consume, no thawing of frozen buns is required. Just re-steam the kept buns until hot before serve.

Happy Cooking
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  1. I have always wanted to try and make those chinese steamed buns. thanks for the recipe :)

  2. Yummy! I love pork belly too!

  3. Can i use this bun recipe for 'char siew' bun. Tks.

  4. Zoe, the color is so very black but nevertheless very delicious!

  5. Oh yessss! A classic chinese dish that everyone loves! My family loves stewed pork belly, we make it every now and again and I always make sure my mom uses the thick cut of pork belly!