Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2 plus 1 menu: 怀念的台湾味道

Taiwan is famous for her bustling night markets and the wide variety of snacks.  There is one particular dish that I adore, to the extent that I can have it everyday while I was in Taiwan on holiday!  It is not the XXXL deep fried chicken (超大鸡排), although I do miss the charcoal-grilled chicken with its special seasonings.  It is not the warm bowl of vermicelli soup with oysters (蚵仔面线), the cool & refreshing bubble milk tea (珍珠奶茶), the juicy pan-fried steamed bun at shilin night market (士林水煎包 ), the love-it or hate-it fermented fried bean curd (臭豆腐), or the sweet mango shaved ice (芒果冰).  All these are interesting and yummy Taiwan snacks, but I do not go gaga over them.  

Rather, it is this simple dish that wins me over and this is none other than the stewed pork rice (卤肉饭).  The rich gravy and the melt-in-your-mouth stewed pork is simply irresistible!

最佳拍档:卤肉 + 卤蛋 + 卤豆干 + 白饭  = 赞!

I replicate this dish at home, based on my fade memory from watching a Taiwan cooking show, about two years back.  I remembered two VIP INGREDIENTS for making this dish.  One is the deep-fried shallots (油葱酥) and the other is the pork belly (五花肉).  This is certainly not a healthy dish, with all the fats in the pork belly.  But, let's face it, you need these fats for that rich collagen-filled gravy.  If you go for the healthier lean pork, you will get a different texture and flavour altogether.  I tried to strike a balance in terms of health and flavour, so I used part minced pork and part pork belly.  I have also included chopped carrots and a handful of dried shrimps for that added natural sweetness.

Ingredients:  Pork belly, minced pork, shallots, garlic, ginger, mushroom, chili, spices, carrots, dried shrimps

Stewed Pork Rice (卤肉饭)

(serves 5 to 6)

1 piece of pork belly, about 250g
200g minced pork
4 to 5 Chinese dried mushrooms (soaked in water, squeezed out water, chopped)
1 carrot, chopped
1 to 2 tbsp dried shrimps (I used sakura shrimps - 樱花虾)
8 to 9 shallots, thinly sliced and deep-fried
5 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
5 to 6 slices ginger
1 chili, halved & removed seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 to 3 cardomom seeds

Dash of cooking wine
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce paste (酱油膏)
1 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
Salt & pepper to taste

Approximate costs:
Pork belly ($4.00) + minced pork ($2.00) + mushroom/carrot/shrimps ($2.00) + combined spices ($1.50) = $9.50

1) Blanch the pork belly in a pot of hot water and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove, cool and cut into very small pieces (see above picture, bottom right hand corner).
2) Heat enough oil in wok over medium heat to deep fry the sliced shallots.  Stir the shallots frequently to ensure even browning.  Once the shallots turn into a light golden brown, remove immediately and drain on kitchen paper.  Set aside.  Pour out shallot oil, leaving about a tbsp in the wok (reserves the shallot oil for steaming  fish, drizzle over claypot chicken rice or kway teow soup for that extra aroma).
3) Bring the heat on high.  Add the sliced ginger, then followed by pork belly (from step 1).  Stir fry to release some of the fats in the pork belly.  Add the chopped mushroom.  Stir fry briefly for about a minute and dish up.  Set aside.
4) Still on high heat, add a little oil in wok (if necessary) and stir fry the minced pork.  Add the chopped garlic.  Stir fry till fragrant.  Add in the chopped carrots, dried shrimps, pork belly/mushroom (from step 3),  and stir fry to combine all ingredients together.  Drizzle cooking wine and light soy sauce from the side of wok, stir fry and add sufficient water to cover the ingredients.
5) Bring to boil and add in the deep-fried shallots (from step 2), chili, spices (cinnamon/star anise/cardomom) and seasonings (soy sauce paste, dark soy sauce, mirin).  Transfer contents into a pot for stewing.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 2 hours.  Add salt/pepper to taste in the last 15 minutes of cooking.
6) Scoop rice into bowls and ladle some stewed pork & gravy over the rice.

Stewed Eggs with Bean Curd (卤蛋/ 卤豆干)
2 to 3 hard-boiled eggs
1 large piece bean curd (cut into two)

Approximate cost: eggs ($0.50) + bean curd ($0.50) = $1.00

After one hour of stewing, I add the hard-boiled eggs/bean curd into the pot of stewed pork and let it simmer together till ready to serve.

A light cabbage soup to go with my stewed pork rice

Cabbage and King Mushroom Soup (白菜鸡腿菇汤)
The Taiwanese would probably have their stewed pork rice with some pickled vegetables or stir-fry cabbage (清炒高丽菜).  For me, I prefer a bowl of light cabbage soup.

Chinese long cabbages, 4 to 5 leaves
1/2 carrot, sliced 
1 King mushroom (鸡腿菇) - one is enough as it is a huge mushroom
2 slices ginger
Ikan bilis/dried scallop stock (I used about 300ml)

Approximate cost:
Cabbage/carrot/mushroom ($2.00) + Stock ($1.00) = $3.00

Combine stock with sufficient water in a pot to yield about 1.2 litre soup.  Bring it to boil and add all the ingredients.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

My 2 plus 1 menu for a taste of Taiwan

My Dinner Menu (serves 4):
Stewed Pork Rice (卤肉饭) - $9.50
Stewed Eggs with Bean Curd (卤蛋/ 卤豆干) - $1.00
Cabbage and King Mushroom Soup (白菜鸡腿菇汤) - $3.00

Total: $13.50

The stewed pork portion is good for serving 5 to 6 pax.  I kept some of these stewed pork for another yummy treat with plain porridge ^_^

I am sharing this dinner menu at "$20 Budget Meal April", a blog event organised by Cuisine Paradise.

For more of my 3-plus-1 or 2-plus-1 menus, check out the page here. 


  1. wow your stewed tofu looks like you bought it - stewed and cut perfectly! And I love shallots too - reminds me of Taiwan too :D

  2. Yummy! This is my boy's favourite dish.

  3. Your family members are so lucky to have you.


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