Babe in the City-KL organized a virtual Merdeka Open House for several years already....For this year, celebrating 53 years of independence of Malaysia, I have cooked something in conjunction with the theme, Food From Our Hearts.....
This is one dish I grew up with, very easily pulled together, and we eat it for several days, and the flavour and taste just gets better each passing day. Sometimes, we add more pork belly and dried beancurd sticks into it, other times we add more mushrooms and more hard-boiled eggs for the kids, or even leftover meats such as chicken or duck. Dried beancurds or tofu puffs would be great addition too to absorb the resulting gravy. No fix rule here, it just gets better.
We like it spicy but you can certainly omit the dried chillies if you cannot take the heat. The base of the sauce is made of spices such as cloves, star anise and just minced garlic, lots and lots of them. The pork is marinaded in a mixture of soya sauces, both light and dark, sugar for the caramelization and also a dash of oyster sauce to bind flavours together. The title itself, Tau Yew Bak is in Hokkien. Tau Yew means soya sauce whereas Bak means meat, you really can use any meat though we always use pork belly, skin on....the long braising hours result in a melt-in-the-mouth layer of fat....Some would find it disgusting but I absolutely love it and can eat a lot a lot of rice with just this dish alone.... The picture below is cloves or what we known as Bunga Cengkih in Malay.
I hope you all will like what I grew up eating and try it for yourself. It is so easy your friends and family would have thought you slaved over the kitchen forever to make this, unbelievably easy! The picture below are all the spices used. The beautiful looking spice at the most front is called star anise or known as Bunga Lawang in Malay.
We cook a lot of this...here's what I've done and they taste really really similar to my grandma's one, if not better!
Tau Yew Bak
(makes crazily a lot and enough to feed an army!)
4kg pork belly, sliced into long strips but left whole
3/4 cup light soya sauce
1/2 cup dark soya sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 cup cornflour
Pat the pork belly dry and mix all the marinade sauces together and dissolve the sugar as much as possible. Pour over the pork belly and massage and marinade it, best overnight. Reserve the marinade sauce and pan fry all the porb belly strips with 1/2 cup oil oil, in batches until it is evenly browned on both sides and starts to caramelize. Do not overcrowd the pan. Dish it all up and let it rest.
1/2 cup oil
15 star anises
15-20 dried chillies
2 whole garlic bulbs, separated into individual cloves, peeled and finely minced
In the same pan, with the remaining oil, heat up the oil and add in the cloves, star anises, dried chillies and minced garlic and stir fry the spices until aromatic. When you can smell the garlic and it is almost brown, add in all the reserved marinade sauces, the pork belly strips and all the meat juices from it and cook it for 10 minutes or so, flipping and coating as you go.
Approximately 1.5litres of water or more to cover everything
15 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and left whole
Add enough water to just cover everything. Throw in the hard-boiled eggs and when everything comes to boil, turn the heat to the lowest setting, and put on the lid, braise the mixture for an hour or two hours, adding more water as you go along. The eggs should be well submerged and take on a beautiful dark brown colour. Before serving, remove the pork belly, strip by strip and cut them into bite size pieces and throw them back into the pot. Repeat until finish. When the pork belly pieces are all well coated in gravy and that the gravy thicken a bit, dish it up, as much as you want and serve it with plain steamed white rice.
Just wanna wish everyone Happy Merdeka and despite it not being a public holiday here in Australia and that life goes on as normal, I would happily raise my hand and shout out Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! because I am a Malaysian, and forever will be.