I was craving a comforting pork belly dish over the weekend but didn’t want to do a repeat of one of my favorite Japanese dishes, Buta No Kakuni. So I turned to the Taiwanese style mostly because my friend Kevin was posting vacation photos on his Instagram account from Taipei.
Don’t be intimidated by all the spices that you need here. They don’t cost a lot if you don’t have them already. I even used fresh tangerine peel instead of the recommended dried ones because I didn’t want to run to Chinatown just for them; besides, the tangerines were 2 for $1 at my corner fruit stand. Two pounds of pork belly may sound a lot, but really, this fed me about 6 rice bowls worth.
2 lbs skin-on pork belly, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tbsps sugar
1 medium onion, finely chopped
12 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water until soft, drained, chopped
1/2 cup Shaoxing wine
6 tbsps light soy sauce
4 tbsps dark soy sauce
6 hardboiled eggs, peeled
For the spices, wrapped in cheese cloth and tied with kitchen string:
6 star anise
2 cinnamon stick
6 bay leaves
4 tsps Sichuan peppercorns
4 pieces tangerine peel
4 slices fresh ginger
1. Bring a large Dutch oven of water to a boil. Blanch the chopped pork belly for 2 minutes. Discard impurities. Scoop out pork to a plate and transfer the water to a large pot.
2. Heat up the same Dutch oven before putting the oil in low heat. Add the sugar and cook until it starts to melt. Add the onions. Turn up the heat to medium high and stir-fry the onions for a minute. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for another few. Add the blanched pork, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and 5 cups of the pork water.
3. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add the spice bag with the eggs and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, or until the meat is falling apart.
4. When ready to serve, remove the spice bag. Turn up the heat to medium-high and thicken the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. Serve over steamed white rice.
I used this cheese cloth to wrap all the spices and didn’t even need a kitchen string to tie it close. I always have dried shiitake mushrooms for broth and fungi cooking needs–they last longer and give off more flavor and body.
Buta No Kakuni, Japanese braised pork belly