I have a confession: I’m obsessed with Taiwan as a country. The entertainment industry (I’m guilty of following all the current talk shows and my favourite is Kang Xi Lai Le 康熙來了), the food, the culture in general; but I have never been to this country! I think that one day when I finally set foot there I’ll probably cry tears of happiness. Not joking. I’ll definitely be stalking a few celebrities, and visit all the night markets that has appeared on TV. And most of all, I’ll definitely put on a few kilos with the growing list of food I want to eat in Taiwan.
But since this month’s Asian Food Fest is covering Taiwanese Cuisine, it’s a perfect opportunity for me to at least try my hand on some of these recipes. With Taiwanese cuisine, I can tell you that I do have to throw the Paleo diet out the window. After all, it’s all about rice, noodles, and even their ‘xiao chi’ is mostly gluten or grain based. Once in a while won’t hurt I guess. Not that I’m been super strict lately anyway as I’ve been eating out a little more often due to my workload.
But anyway, the number 1 dish I wanted to try was the super sinful Lu Rou Fan 滷肉飯 (Roughly translated to Minced Pork Rice). It’s one of the most talked about dish on talk shows and everyone seems to have their favourite. As I understand there are 2 types of Lu Rou Fan, one with very finely minced fatty pork, and the other type with diced pork belly. Knowing me, of course I prefer the latter. Just check this out:
Lu Rou Fan is considered comfort food and is available pretty much everywhere. It can be enjoyed anytime of the day really and I’d say this makes for a perfect after party supper (not that I’m advocating having supper, or partying, for that matter). At its simplest form, it’s just meat over rice, although eggs are commonly added. Some places serve this with green vegetables, some with Japanese pickled daikon. But there’s no denying that this will please any porcine lover. Well it most definitely pleased me. Over and over again. I love cooking a huge portion for one. Hehe.
Cooking this is relatively easy, and I opted for the lazy method with my trusty Philips Pressure Cooker so the cooking time was significantly reduced. But I have typed out both lazy and traditional methods for you.
Lu Rou Fan (Recipe adapted from Lady and Pups)
500g of skin-on pork belly, cut into small dices (think of dicing thick-cut bacons)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
40g Rock Sugar
1/4 cup good soy sauce (I used a mixture of liquid aminos and dark soy, you might want to adjust the ratio depending on how dark your soy sauce is)
1/4 cup (45 grams) of Chinese rice wine
1 small stick of cinnamon
1 tsp of ground white pepper
1/4 tsp of five spice powder
1/2 cup of fried shallots (store-bought or homemade)
2 cups (710 grams) of water
5 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
Pressure Cooker Method:
Dump everything except for the eggs into the pot and cook with pressure on for 30minutes. Release pressure and add hardboiled eggs, cook uncovered until the sauce thickens and reduced significantly. Season to taste.
Stove Top Method:
Heat non-stick pan and add pork belly (no oil needed, it’s fatty enough!) to cook for a few minutes until the fat is starting to render. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, then add soy sauce, rock sugar, cinnamon, rice wine, white pepper, fried shallots. Mix everything together and then finally add water and bring to a simmer. Cook for around 1 and 1/2 hour to 2 hours on medium-low heat until the sauce is thickened slightly and the pork is starting to get quite tender. Add hard-boiled egg and cook for 10-15 minutes further until the sauce is nicely gelatinous. You may need to add water during the cooking process if the liquid is reducing too fast.
Serve the Lu Rou over rice garnished with greens of your choice, and watch it disappear!
Meltingly tender pork, the aroma of 5 spice, savoury sweet sticky gravy, with perfectly cook eggs (I like my egg yolk just set or slightly runny). I served mine with some homemade pickled daikon for that extra bit of piquancy. Mmmm that was such a perfect meal.