Last year I published a recipe for Hakka Cantonese style pork ribs done with red bean curd, and cooked in a slow cooker. This is along the same lines but the sauce is far more complex, and is real Hakka comfort food! It is not easy to make. The easiest part is dumping it all in the slow cooker but like with many Hakka dishes, this one requires a lot of preparation (as you will see from the ingredient list). The key is to have everything ready to stir fry, then put in the slow cooker. The end product is very worth it! Spread over a bowl of rice, there’s nothing better! There are many variations of this dish throughout China, and Southeast Asia but this is the version I like best! It embodies the flavors that I remember from my childhood spent at the dinner table in the home of my Hakka childhood friend where there was always a place set for me, whether I came or not.
2 lb pork belly strips. With or without skin is your choice
2 ozs wood ears fungus
2 ozs dried Shitake mushrooms
2 pieces of dried orange or tangerine peel
6 cloves garlic
1 large shallot
1” piece ginger root, peeled
1 small tin chicken broth
Marinade (which will be discarded after use)
1/2 tablespoon dark soya sauce
1/2 tablespoon light soya sauce
2 teaspoons five spice powder
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons red fermented bean curd liquid (this is what gives the dish the specific “Hakka” flavor
4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 large cubes of red bean curd
2 tablespoons red bean curd liquid
2 tablespoons dark soya sauce
2 tablespoons light soya sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
1 1/2 oz Chinese rock sugar (you can use brown sugar but I can’t guarantee the results)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon five spice powder
2 teaspoons sesame oil
½ teaspoon white pepper
1. Pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms and orange peel in a large bowl, and allow to soak and rehydrate. When soft, cut the mushrooms and wood ears into small pieces. Scrape the pith off the rehydrated orange peel, and mince finely. Put this minced peel in a small chopper along with the garlic, ginger and shallots. Chop all finely and set aside.
2. Cut the pork belly strip into small cubes (I do 1 ½”x 1 ½”)
3. Boil a pot of water large enough to hold the pork belly pieces, and blanch them for about 2-3 minutes in the boiling water. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pieces from the water. Discard the water.
4. Season the meat with the marinade ingredients. Stir to ensure that all the pork pieces are coated with the marinade. Put this aside to marinate (the longer you allow to marinate, the more flavorful it will be. I marinated mine in the fridge for 1 hour)
5. Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
6. In small batches at a time, deep fry the pieces of marinated pork. Remove from the marinade and put in the hot oil. Fry till dark brown. Drain on a paper towel on a plate. Discard the unused marinade, and the oil.
7. Heat 2 tablespoons fresh cooking oil in a wok and add the rock sugar. Stir fry in the oil until the “rocks” melt and caramelize. Add the minced shallot, garlic, ginger and orange peel and fry until the fragrance is released. Add the mushrooms and wood ears to this and stir fry for another minute or two. Mix in the drained, deep fried pork, and the sauce mix. Stir fry quickly then transfer all from the wok to a 3 quart slow cooker. Pour the chicken broth over this and cook on high for 2 hours, and low for another hour.
8. Remove pork and mushrooms with a slotted spoon, and transfer the liquid to a small pot. Bring to a boil to reduce until the sauce is thickened. Pour over pork mixture. Serve with rice.