Contributed by Amy Chen.
The term “braise” in Western/English context usually refers to cooking with small amount of water. For this dish, the amount of water is more than what we would normally term as “braise”. However, I find that “braise” is the closest term for it.
Anyway, whatever term used, it is very delicious and my family likes it a lot.
6 beancurd sticks (soaked till a little soft)
3 star anise
2 2inch cinnamon
2 cloves garlic with skin intact
dark soy sauce
Pic.1 The ingredients: bean curd sticks which have been soaked till a little soft to facilitate cutting into 2in./5cm strips, pork, cut to a little bigger than bite-sized pieces and mixed with a little dark soy sauce, and in the small plate, garlic, star anise and cinnamon. Other ingredients used but not in the picture are dark soy sauce, water, salt and sugar.
Pic.2 Close-up view of garlic, star anise, cinnamon and bean curd sticks. The latter made of soy beans is dried into stick or strip form. It needs to be softened a little in order to be cut easily into desired lengths. Those who like bean curd simply love this form because they enjoy biting the many folds in the strips which really give concentrated bean curd taste!
Pic3 Heat up a medium deep pot. Put in a little oil to fry the spices first.
Pic.4 Fry the spices for a few seconds till they impart their aroma. Put in the pork to brown – the pieces to be in contact with the base of the pot as much as possible. Do not move them for a few seconds to let the juices seal in.
Pic.5 Next add the bean curd strips and then add water to just cover the contents.
Pic.6 Add a few drops of dark soy sauce for color.
Pic.7 Put the lid on and when the contents start to boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer (making sure it’s boiling gently) for an hour or till meat and bean curd is just soft. (Use the chopstick test: If a chopstick can pierce through the meat with little resistence, it’s soft). Add salt to taste – also a little sugar to enhance the flavour.
Note: I’m going to give a cooking tip here. After it has started to boil, reduce heat and allow it to boil gently. After half an hour, turn off heat and let it sit for several hours. The next time we bring it to the boil again, we let it simmer for half an hour. With this 2 stage cooking the meat is tenderized for sure whereas straight cooking in 1 hour sometimes toughens the meat. Of course, it also depends on the type of meat. I usually start the cooking in mid-morning and finish off the cooking near to dinner time.
Pic.8 The ready dish – to go with white rice. Lots of gravy for those who like to drown their rice in!
Pic.9 Dinner/lunch ready. Yum! Yum!