Lu Rou Fan, which means "Braised Meat Rice" literally, is an extremely popular and incredibly delicious Taiwanese specialty. Made with pork braised primarily in soy sauce and other aromatics, the mixture is spooned over a bowl of steaming hot rice and served with eggs and firm tofu. It is one of my favourite dishes - so good that I always eat a huge bowl of rice so I can scoop a lot of these tasty meat mixture on top.
The most important ingredient is definitely the meat. I think almost all Lu Rou Fan are made with pork - I've never seen or tried one that's made with other kinds of meat. In different regions of Taiwan, different parts of pork are used. Some use pork belly, some use minced pork and I think some use a mix of both. I like to use pork belly because you get two textures in one bite - the meaty part and the fats which lend a melt-in-the-mouth texture that you won't get with minced meat.
I use pork belly without the skin (aka rind) because the pork bellies we got here have tiny hairs stuck on it (so gross I know). So, to save myself the trouble from plucking out the hair, I always ask the butcher to get rid of the skin. If I'm cooking this in Singapore, I'll just use one with skin.
(Yes, yes, yes - Lu Rou Fan is not the healthiest dish out there but we should always indulge once in a while, right?)
The rest of the ingredients are common in an Asian pantry, but there is one secret ingredient that makes this dish so good - fried shallots. And I'll be honest with you - I use ready-made fried shallots that I bought in Singapore. Of course it would be better to fry the shallots on your own at home (and you get a delicious shallot oil that you can use in anything, including this Shredded Chicken Hor Fun), but I'm just too lazy to do it. Maybe one day I will, maybe 😉
Lu Rou Fan is not difficult to make, just a little stir-frying then everything else is dumped in together into the pot and simmered away. It takes a bit of time because you want the meat to be so soft that it falls apart and melts away in the mouth! Hence, it is best to make a huge batch of Lu Rou Fan as it freezes beautifully. Just add in the egg and tofu when you heat it up again as dairy doesn't freeze well.
And here are the step-by-step photos - if you made it, let me know how it goes!
|1) Soak shiitake mushrooms in water overnight. Squeeze dry and slice them into cubes.||2) Rinse and dry pork belly thoroughly with paper towels. Cut into ¾ to 1-inch cubes.|
|3) Get ready cinnamon, star anise, garlic and ginger. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add in oil then add them in. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.||4) Add the pork belly into the pot. Cook until most of the pork belly cubes are no longer pink.|
|5) Add in everything else (except eggs, tofu, rice and coriander) and simmer for 1 hour.||6) Scoop out whatever you want to serve that day, then add in eggs and tofu to simmer for another 30 minutes. Let the rest cool and freeze into small portions!|
Taiwanese Braised Pork with Rice
- 8 pieces dried shiitake mushrooms, about 40 to 50 grams
- Water / stock
- 800 grams pork belly, with or without skin
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 Thumb ginger, peeled and sliced
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ⅓ cup of dark soy sauce
- ⅓ cup of Shaoxing wine
- 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon of five spice powder
- 2 tablespoons rock sugar
- 1 cup fried shallots, about 60 grams
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
- 200 grams firm tofu, aka tau kwa, cut into 4 pieces
- Fresh coriander, as garnish
- Soak shiitake mushrooms in water overnight. Squeeze dry and slice them into cubes. Top up the mushroom water with plain water or stock until you have 1 litre of liquid. Set aside.
- Rinse and dry pork belly thoroughly with paper towels. Cut into ¾ to 1-inch cubes.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add in oil then add in garlic, ginger, star anise and cinnamon stick. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the pork belly into the pot. Cook until most of the pork belly cubes are no longer pink, then add in the 1 litre of mushroom-water-stock liquid, shiitake mushroom cubes, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, five spice powder, rock sugar and fried shallots. (Basically, everything except the hard-boiled eggs, firm tofu, rice and fresh coriander.)
- Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally (every 10 to 15 minutes). During this time you can cook your hard-boiled eggs and peel them.
- Add in the hard-boiled eggs and firm tofu and simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring frequently (every 5 to 10 minutes), until the eggs and tofu are evenly coloured. You will need to stir more frequently as the sauce is drying up and the meat may get burnt at the bottom. Add in more water if the mixture looks dry.
- Scoop rice into rice bowls and place an egg and tofu on top. Scoop the meat mixture generously onto the rice. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve immediately.