One of the dishes that I craved for when I moved to Singapore many years ago is this dish called Tau Yew Bak (Braised Pork Belly in Soy Sauce). My mother used to cook this dish at home quite often so it is a dish that is very close to my heart.
Translated literally, Tau Yew Bak means soy sauce meat in the Hokkien dialect. I cook this regularly at home and I love how easy and simple it is to make. It is comfort food for me since my childhood days. This is a dish that many Chinese have grown up eating it too.
Even though I feature pork in many of my recipes, can you believe that a few years ago, I abstained from eating pork? I had this idea after watching the movie Babe. However, my determination was short-lived. My hubby does not eat chicken so I could only cook pork and seafood dishes for him. Whenever pork was a main dish, I had to cook something else for myself. After awhile, it became tiresome and eventually I resumed eating pork. I’m sorry babe but you do taste delicious.
Most families have their own version of tau yew bak. Besides the pork belly, soy sauce and garlic are also essential ingredients in this stew. Sometimes, I’ll add hard boiled eggs, tao pok (fried tofu puffs), tau kwa (firm tofu) and dried shiitake mushrooms.
For the soy sauce used in this recipe, I used Kwong Cheong Thye brand. It is fragrant and tasty without being overly salty. I use it in almost everything – dipping, marinating, stir-fries, braising, etc. As for the dark soy sauce, it is just a thicker version of the light soy sauce. Don’t use too much of it as it will cause the gravy to turn very dark and salty.
Here are step-by-step photos to make this simple yet delicious Chinese comfort food:
Scald pork belly briefly in boiling water before cutting them up into your desired bite-sized pieces. Cut the meat into slightly larger pieces as they will shrink during cooking. Scalding removes excess blood and scum and makes it easier to slice.
Heat up a little oil in a pot. I used my Happycall Alumite Ceramic pot to cook this dish. You can also use a claypot, wok or dutch oven. Fry the spices and garlic till fragrant.
Add pork belly and fry on both sides.
Next, add the sauce ingredients and mix well to coat the pork.
Pour in enough water to slightly cover all ingredients. Bring to a boil then simmer on low heat with the lid on until meat is very tender.
If you wish to include additional ingredients such as hard boiled eggs, tofu and tau pok (fried tofu puffs), add them in the last half hour of cooking. Other optional ingredient such as dried shiitake mushrooms may be added earlier.
If necessary, add a little water to prevent the stew from drying up. Taste the stew and adjust to your preference. Use more light soy sauce for saltiness and dark soy sauce for color.
The longer it is simmered, the thicker the gravy. If you prefer to have more gravy, turn off the heat when the meat has softened enough. Otherwise, you can simmer on very low heat till the gravy has reduced to a glaze like consistency.
- Don’t prolong the cooking time. Turn off the heat once the pork is sufficiently tender. Overcooking will toughen the meat, shrink it considerably resulting in less juicy meat.
This dish is best enjoyed with plain steamed rice and some sambal belacan (a spicy condiment made with pounded red chilies and shrimp paste spiked with some lime juice). Thanks for reading and happy cooking!
- 500 gm pork belly
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 5 cloves garlic - lightly smashed with skin on
- 4 hard boiled eggs- optional
- 10 pieces of tao pok (fried tofu puffs) - optional
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- Water - about 2 cups or just enough to cover all the ingredients
- For sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 50 ml light soy sauce
- 5 cubes of rock sugar (or to taste)
- Scald pork belly briefly in boiling water. Remove and cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a pot. Add cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and garlic and stir fry till fragrant.
- Add pork slices and fry on both sides. Then add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar. Stir well to coat the pork slices.
- Add water till it is just enough to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer for about 1.5 hours or until meat is tender to your liking.
- If adding hard boiled eggs and tao pok, add them in the last half hour of cooking. Taste the stew and adjust with more water or light soy sauce if necessary Once the meat is soft, turn off the heat. Serve with rice and sambal belacan.
Chappy Krauthoff says
Sounds like a savory meal. I have booked marked your site. As to the comment on American Soy Sauce, most are made from wheat
My Asian friends really like to do delicious meals and I miss Somtum already after I left Thailand. When I get back there, I will definitely them about Tau Yew Bak. It looks amazing.
Jamin wong says
My wife would love the pork belly in whatever cooking style. I will rush to Sunday morning fresh market to buy the ingredients to try it out ourselves. Thank for this recipe.
This sounds so good I can’t wait to give it a try! I love anything in soy sauce, and the addition of cinnamon, anise and cloves sound wonderful! YUM!
Thank, Danielle! Hope you’ll like it. 🙂
This dish is one of my family favorites as well.
I remember eating this dish growing up. We used to have ours in bigger slices not bite size like you have it. I am not sure whether it’s the same recipe but it was braised pork belly and ours was much darker looking. I guess that’s to do with the soy sauce? It’s so fragrant as well as delicious!
I don’t know how to make this dish as my eldest brother was the chef and he’s great at cooking so I never ended up learning. 🙁
I’ll give your recipe a try and see how it turns out.
Darker looking sauce is most likely due to the amount of dark soy sauce used. You can cut the pork belly into bigger slices if you prefer. I do that sometimes too. It’s really easy to cook this dish. Hope you’ll like it. Happy cooking! 🙂
This has been placed in my favorites section. A great meal which is easy and affordable to make.
Now getting this at a restaurant might be a different story.
Tasty pork recipe, thanks!
Thanks for sharing another great recipe! The pork looks really juicy and delicious. It is definitely something to eat with rice I suppose. In that case would you prefer more or less gravy? Or does it make a difference if it is eaten with noodles?
For me, I enjoy eating pork belly when it is braised till tender with some gravy. Not too much and not too little. I always eat this dish with rice but I guess it can be also eaten with noodles. Thanks for stopping by!
That looks absolutely delicious! The recipe looks really easy to follow, I think I’ll be getting some pork belly next time I go shopping. Do you think this recipe can also work with other types of meat? Perhaps I can also try it using lamb or do you think it’s too dry of a meat for this dish?
Hi Vesi, pork belly is the best as it has both lean and fat meat. I don’t think lamb will be suitable as it has a strong and gamey taste compared to pork.
Tyler Redlev says
This seems delicious!
Well, I live in a Muslim country where the majority are hardcore Muslims, that’s why you don’t see many pork meals around here. Still, we can find it if we would like but it would require a hassle. And achieving a meal like you mentioned in your content is quite a challenge.
You made me hungry right now. Great recipe! I would like to try it out!
I hope you’ll be able to get the ingredients to try out this recipe. Thanks for dropping by 🙂
This presentation is very easy to follow, with great pictures that make your mouth water. I’ve had this dish before. I didn’t know the quality of the soy sauce mattered.
You seem to have a keen sense of taste for soy sauce. How do American soy sauce brands compare to their Chinese counterparts?
I’ll bookmark this and try to make it too!
Hi Den, I haven’t tried American soy sauce before so I can’t comment on that. Do let me know how the dish turns out. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂