Make, Jane, make!: Braised Pork Belly and Shanghai Bok Choy


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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Braised Pork Belly and Shanghai Bok Choy

There's nothing like a richly braised meat accompanied by simply stir-fried, lightly salted bok choy. Warning: Do not look at the upcoming pictures if you are not a fan of fatty meats...

We received a nice bunch of healthy, green, crisp bok choy in our CSA box this week, so the first thing I did was rush out and buy a piece of fatty pork to go with it :) For those of you still reading: Hooray for fatty meat lovers! Everyone else does not know what they're missing out on. When eating braised pork belly you definitely need a substantial green whose leaves won't wilt too much and get too greasy - bok choy or gai lan fit the bill nicely.

My husband was ecstatic when he came home to the house smelling of Dongpo pork (東坡肉). In fact, the smell of the braise transported me right back to my mom's kitchen where this dish was a favourite.

There are lots of recipes for this out there in the internet, but it's simply a parboiled piece of pork belly braised in some rice wine, soy and a fair bit of sugar (usually with scallions and ginger for flavour). You can use aromatics like star anise, fennel or Szechuan peppercorns, but I find that dongpo pork is usually a simpler dish than most red-cooked meats and it's more about the caramelization of the meat than spices.

I braise my pork belly whole, rather than cutting it into smaller pieces. This way, the braising liquid doesn't penetrate into the meat too much even with a prolonged braising time and the fat can really get soft and sumptuous without the meat getting too salty. And you can always spoon some sauce over top before serving which is like pure deliciousness for the bok choy and rice.

Now I just have to find people to come have dinner with us the next time I make this, so hubby and I don't end up eating 2 pounds of pork belly by ourselves again!

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