This is my Maternal Grandma's signature dish and I've decided to share it with you guys here. It's SO simple to make. You just dump everything together in a pot, leave it overnight to marinate, then stew with liquid till tender. You do have to wait for some time for it to all come together, but there's hardly any work as it cooks... Here, I've adapted the recipe slightly by leaving the pork belly in larger slices before slicing them up into bite-sized chunks for an event I had.
Way before these little parcels of steamed, fluffy white buns imploded onto the culinary scene, trendily morphing into popular Asian burgers of sorts and housing a wide varietal of fillings, there was this - the OG Kong Bak Pau. There are many fabulous, famous renditions of pork belly buns around the world, some piled with several crunchy adornments, the pork sourced from a special breed of hog and the bun spread with a unique concoction of umami-packed sauces, but sometimes, simplicity is all you need. A sweet, fluffy steamed bun stuffed with a meltingly tender pork belly braise. The only condiment you need is the glossy dark and sticky braising sauce. Honestly, my favourite part of this dish is dunking the steamed bun in an obscene amount of sauce.
1kg pork belly, thickly sliced
6 dried chinese mushrooms
6 garlic cloves, left whole with their skins on
12-14 Chinese steamed buns
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
5 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
dash of white pepper
1. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade together and add the pork belly. Mix well, cover and leave to marinate overnight, or at least a few hours.
2. Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water until they soften, about 30 minutes. Squeeze excess water from the mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid. Trim and discard the stems of the mushrooms.
3. Empty the marinated pork with all its marinade into a stewing pot or claypot. Add about 100ml of the mushroom soaking liquid, the water and the mushrooms. Let stew over low heat, covered. After half an hour has gone by, add the garlic cloves.
4. The total cooking time will vary, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours . Top up with more water if the sauce starts to dry up. You'll know when it's done. The meat will be tender and falling apart, and the liquid will be reduced to a flavourful, thick sauce, covering about half the contents of the pot.
5. Skim off any fat or scum that would have risen to the top. Taste and adjust the seasoning to account for any evaporation or addition of more liquid.
6. To serve, steam the buns until soft and hot, then sandwich with one or two chunks of pork belly, mushroom and drizzle that saus all over.
1. You can braise the mushrooms whole or leave them in thick chunks.
2. If you're leaving your pork belly in larger slices to stew, the time it takes to reach the meltingly tender stage will be longer, so account for that.
3. If you want to make things easier on yourself, you could leave the stew overnight in the fridge. All the fat will solidify on top and you can remove some of it before serving.