This is one of my favourite dishes from childhood. It is of a teochew influence, but I believe my father modified it to taste how he wants it to taste.
- Malaysian Dark Soy Sauce (Cooking Caramel)
- Soy Sauce
- Five spice powder
- Pork Belly
- Start with pork belly. A good flattish chunk of it. Or if you can find it ready cut in stripes, buy that. But make sure the rind is still on. It provides very important texture to the dish. If you can’t get it into chunks…. Buy a flat pork belly joint and cut it up yourself. It doesn’t matter whether the rind is scored or not.
- Use a shallow casserole dish. On low flame, dry out the meat. I was told by my mother that butchers inject the meat with water to make it weigh more, so we have to get rid of the excess water. I am not sure if this is true these days… but I still do it because it also browns the meat a little. We are not trying to make pulled pork, we want this to stay in one piece!
- Lay the pork belly pieces, sides down, in a shallow casserole dish over low flame as shown in the pictures. Turn over when the sides look like the next picture
- Sprinkle chinese five spice powder over the entire dish. If possible, get a large packet from a chinese store. Not one of those tiny sprinkler bottles from the supermarket. If you are using a small sprinkling jar, you will need at least 2 whole jars for this dish.
- Once covered with five spice. Drizzle dark soy / cooking caramel over the whole dish. Also pour about 2 tbsp light soy into the dish.
- By this time the other side should have ‘browned’. Turn over and repeat the whole process – YES, same amount of five spice, dark soy & light soy!
- The dish should now look like this image. Cover and leave on low flame for about 30 minutes. Turn over one other time. You can add 2 tbsp of water if it looks a little dry. Only add the same amount of water as you added light soy.
- After the 30 minutes is up. Get a clean cutting board and knife. Lift each piece out with a fork and slice into 1.5-2cm chunks. Put this back into the pot. Spread it around the sauce liberally. Serve with rice & some other dishes.
Note: Malaysian dark soy sauce is dark, thick and sweet with only a faint hint of soy flavour. In Malaysia it is called dark soy, but in the UK, to differentiate from the various other regional dark soy, it can be called cooking caramel. This brand is the one we use, both here in London, and back home in Malaysia. If you can’t find it, the closest analogue is Indonesian dark soy, but that tends to be more watery so don’t add extra water to the sauce. If you are using cantonese/hong kong/mainland dark soy, don’t use as much as that is much much much saltier. Maybe don’t even use that, just add some sugar to your dish instead.