A couple of days ago I was walking home with a brand-new rice cooker feeling just… so Asian. Then I watched one of my favourite Youtubers cook Chinese braised pork belly in a rice cooker and I knew a path had been set before me. I even already had all the ingredients in my kitchen. Because it was meant to be. And because I’m an adult.
If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can simply make this on the stove. You’ll just have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn, but that’s what you get for being a rice cookerless peasant.
RICE COOKER MASTER RACE!
Interestingly, there seem to be two types of rice cooker owners: those who make anything and everything in it, and rice purists who will slap you in the mouth for even thinking about ruining a perfectly good rice cooker with all that non-rice.
I’ve found rice cookers to be pretty sturdy, so I fall into the first category. Chuck everything in there. It’s fine.
This recipe requires basic ingredients that are often used in Chinese cuisine (which is the real reason I already had everything), so if you don’t already have these in the kitchen, it’s worth getting them.
- 500 gr (1 lb) pork belly (and make it nice and fatty, this is not diet food)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Chinese Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp sugar
- 4 slices of ginger
- 5 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 dried chili peppers (optional)
- Potatoes (optional, but not really; it’s freaking delicious)
- 1 scallion (for garnish)
- 2,5 cups of water
Get to work
- Chop up the pork belly into bite-sized pieces.
- Boil the pork belly pieces in a pot for a short while to remove the scum.
- Meanwhile, mix all the sauce ingredients (soy sauce, wine, sesame oil and sugar) in a small bowl.
- Put the ginger slices in the rice cooker (or pot, you peasant), throw in the pork belly and potato chunks (no skin). Add the sauce, star anise, cinnamon stick and dried peppers and mix it all up.
- Add water, give it a bit of a stir and start cooking! Stir every now and then so nothing gets burnt and everything cooks evenly.
- The rice cooker will automatically pop to “keep warm” when the water has evaporated and you’re left with nice, thick glaze on the bottom. It’s ready to eat!
Depending on your rice cooker it will take a while for it to cook. For some it’s 40 minutes, but for me it took a little over an hour. Hey, braised pork is easy, not quick. The potatoes will use all that time to soak in all the porky and saucy flavours. This is how I grew up eating potatoes and there’s just nothing better.
Best eaten with rice, which you can make prior to braising the pork, or you could steam rice on the stove. Or if you’re super Asian, make it in your spare rice cooker.