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DONG PO ROU is a very popular dish in Shanghai, China. I’ve been to Shanghai several times but was never game enough to eat it while there. I have been told that it was sweet in taste. For a long time, I’ve wanted to D.I.Y. it at home so today’s the day to satisfy my curiosity and taste buds.

To find it’s origin, I did a search on Wikipedia and it says “the dish is named after the famed Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo and legend has it that while Su Dongpo was banished to Hangzhou, in a life of poverty, he made an improvement of the traditional process. He first braised the pork, added Chinese fermented wine and slowly stewed it on a low heat to made red-braised pork.” This guy was probably used to a life of fine dining before his fate overturned, and for him to reinvent a meat & wine dish even in his dired state, Dong Po Rou must have been his favourite.

I did a search on the internet and there were different variations of making this dish. I couldn’t quite decide which one to follow and did what most cooks would have done – put several recipes together and came up with a one-of-a-kind version. Typically, the pork belly for this dish is usually trimmed neatly to a square shape and cooked as it is but I cut those I bought into bite size pieces instead. Right now the pork belly is stewing and there’s a whiff of cinnamon and apple in the air…. can’t wait to try !

BRAISED PORK BELLY IN SWEET SOY SAUCE (DONG PO ROU)

Ingredients :

600gm fresh pork belly
2 Bay leaves
5gm cinnamon
1 large apple, diced
100ml sweet soy sauce
200ml chinese wine (Shao Hsing Wine)
20gm rock sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic (give it a slight smash with a cleaver)
a thumb of ginger, sliced

Directions :
1)    Cut the pork belly into bite size pieces or cubes. Scald meat in hot water for 1 min. Remove and rinse.

2)    In a pot of boiling water, add apples, bay leaves, cinnamon and pork belly. Continue to boil on high heat for 5 mins.  Cover pot and leave the meat to simmer on low heat for 30 mins. Remove and transfer pork belly into a claypot. IMG_20130503_2

3)    Pour sufficient hot water to cover the belly pork. Add sweet soy sauce, wine, rock sugar, ginger and garlic. Bring to boil, cover claypot and leave to simmer for another 40mins. IMG_20130503_1

Deliciously tender melt-in-the mouth Dong Po Rou !

tender pieces of Dong Po Rou, ready to be eaten !

4)    When done, remove pork to a serving dish. Garnish with some diced apples and coriander. Pour some sauce over and around the meat to give it that finishing touch. Serve warm and enjoy with hot steaming rice. 20130503_190225

Verdict: The meat was tender & aromatic, with a tinge of cinnamon & apple taste. Amazingly, the fat didn’t taste oily at all and the sauce is lovely with rice. Will certainly try again but this time with a bunch of green onions thrown in during the stewing process as called for in some recipes.

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