This is typically called lu-rou-fan, meaning braised pork (lu-rou) on rice (fan). It’s a generic and sometimes misleading name because, to be more accurate, it is also called rou-zao-fan, meaning braised pork belly with fried shallots (rou-zao) on rice (fan).

Serves
10-15

Preparation

20min

Cooking

3hr
30min

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 4.2 (387 votes)
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Rou-zao is a very specific and uniquely Taiwanese thing. If you are not from or have never been to Taiwan, where this left an impression on you, chances of your slightest interest are scarce. But if you are bound to this dish by blood or memory, you’ll be balling with joy. It’s just that kind of thing.

Ingredients

  • 1.25 kg skin-on pork belly, cut into ½ cm cubes (see Note)
  • 6 small red Asian shallots, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) soy sauce, plus extra for adjusting
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) Chinese rice wine (shaoxing) or sake
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp molasses
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper, plus extra, to serve
  • ¼ tsp Chinese five-spice
  • 100 g (1½ cups) fried Asian shallots (you-cong)
  • 750 ml (3 cups) water
  • 6 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • steamed rice, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 150ºC.

Heat an ovenproof casserole pot over a medium-high heat on the stove. Add the pork belly, red Asian shallots, garlic and sugar. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until the pork fat starts to render and the sugar starts to caramelise on the base of the casserole or the surface of the pork belly.

Add the soy sauce, rice wine, cinnamon stick, molasses, ground white pepper and five-spice, and cook, stirring, until there’s good caramelisation on the side and base of the casserole and the liquid is almost evaporated. Add the fried shallots and stir to combine, then immediately (fried shallots easily burn) add the water and bring to a simmer. A lot of pork fat will float to the surface; skim off half and reserve (this dish should have a good amount of fat in it, but leaving too much will make it difficult to judge the water level when the sauce is reducing. Reserving the fat allows you to adjust later).  

At this point, adjust the seasoning with more soy sauce. Each brand of soy sauce has a different saltiness, but chances are you’ll need 30–60 ml more. Poke a few holes in the hard-boiled eggs with a fork to allow the flavours to penetrate, then add to the casserole.

Return to a simmer, put the lid on and move into the oven. Cook for 2½–3 hours or until the pork belly is meltingly soft, and the liquid is slightly reduced and becoming gelatinous (if the liquid is reducing too fast during cooking, add a bit more water). You should have about ½ cm pork fat at the surface; if there’s more, skim off.

Spoon the pork belly mixture generously over hot steamed rice, with a little sprinkle of ground white pepper to serve. Otherwise, once cool, the pork belly mixture can be divided into airtight containers and frozen until needed.

 

Note

• Most Taiwanese stews are cooked on the stovetop because ovens aren’t typical in traditional Taiwanese kitchens. However, I strongly advise using the oven in this case (if you have one of course) as it provides even heat and significantly reduces the chance of burning on the base of the casserole. If you have to cook this on the stovetop, you’ll need to keep an eye on it throughout.

 Ask your butcher to dice the pork belly for you. Or freeze the pork until hard but workable before cutting. Dicing skin-on pork belly at room temperature is a nightmare.

 

Recipe from Lady and Pups by Mandy Lee, with photographs by Mandy Lee.