Monday, April 6, 2020

Instant Pot Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly (Lu Rou Fan)

My first Instant Pot (IP) recipe on the blog and my latest IP meal - Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly! I can't believe I made such a restaurant quality dish, and it's so straightforward to make. I've noted some key basic steps to these IP meat meals - brown the meat, deglaze, get enough liquid in there, close lid and turn vent to sealing.

I highly recommend getting an IP if you don't already own one. It cuts down the time braising/ cooking normally takes and yields such tender and flavorful dishes. I list some of the things I've made in my IP so far and am so excited to work down my long list of bookmarks during this quarantine life.

What I've made in my IP + link to recipes:
Ragu - Damn Delicious
White Chicken Chili - A Mind "Full" Mom 
Beef Stew - Pressure Cook Recipes
Sticky Asian Ribs - Just One Cookbook
Steamed Corn
Thai Red Curry with Chicken  - Paint the Kitchen Red
Hong Kong Style Borscht Soup - Pressure Cook Recipes
Red Wine Ox Tail - Pressure Cook Recipes
One pot Spaghetti - Salty Mashmallow/ Damn Delicious

Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly
recipe adapted from Pressure Cook Recipes

1-1.5 lb (454-680g) pork belly (with skin)
1 cup dried shiitake mushroom, rehydrated and sliced
¼ cup (60g) deep fried shallots or minced shallots *skipped
8 (36g) garlic cloves , roughly minced
4 (15g) ginger slices
2 - 3 (3g) star anise
2 (0.3g) bay leaves
½ tsp (0.8g) five spice powder
¼ tsp (1g) ground white pepper
1 cup (250ml) cold water *used shiitake mushroom soaking liquid
3 tablespoons (45ml) Taiwanese soy sauce or regular soy sauce
1 tablespoon (15ml) dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon (15ml) Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon (15ml) Chinese black vinegar
2 tablespoons (29g) brown sugar
1.5 tablespoons (22g) unsalted butter
3 - 6 soft or hard boiled eggs
1 stalk green onion , thinly sliced to garnish

An extra prep step I did - bring a medium pot of water + a few pieces of ginger to a boil, blanch pork belly for 2-3 mins.

1. Brown Pork Belly in Instant Pot: Heat up IP using “Sauté More” function. When "HOT", add oil to coat entire bottom. Lightly season pork belly's skin side with salt. Place pork belly's seasoned skin side down in IP. Brown pork belly for roughly 5 minutes per side. Lightly season the other side of pork belly with salt. Then, brown the pork belly's two thinner sides for 3 minutes per side. Set aside the browned pork belly.

Optional Flavor Enhancing Step - Caramelize Sugar: Add unsalted butter in IP, then ensure the whole bottom is coated with melted butter. Add brown sugar, then stir very occasionally. Ensure the sugar reaches a deep caramelized color. This process will take ~1.5 - 2 mins.

2. Saute Shallot and Garlic: Once brown sugar has a deep brown color, add deep fried shallots (or minced shallot) in IP to stop the sugar from burning. Then, add in ginger slices and minced garlic. Saute for another minute.

3. Deglaze: Pour Shaoxing wine and cold water in IP. Deglaze by scrubbing all the flavorful brown bits off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Give it a quick mix.

4. Pressure Cook Pork Belly: Add in star anise, bay leaves, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, five-spice powder, and ground white pepper. Give it a quick mix, then turn off the heat. Cut pork belly into small strips, then place back in Instant Pot, and give it a quick mix.

*Pro Tip: Ensure the pork belly is partially submerged in the cooking liquid.

Close lid, then turn Venting Knob to Sealing position. Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 20 minutes + 10 minutes Natural Release. After 10 minutes, release the remaining pressure by turning the Venting Knob to Venting position. Carefully open the lid.

5. Thicken Lu Rou Sauce: Remove & discard star anise and bay leaves. Add in soft or hard boiled eggs. Bring to a simmer with the "Saute More" function. Let simmer for 3 - 10 minutes to break down the meat & thicken the sauce. Stir occasionally.

6. Season & Serve Taiwanese Braised Pork: Taste and season if needed. Garnish with thinly sliced green onions, then serve on rice.

Taste: 4.9 stars out of 5
Texture: 4.9 stars out of 5
There's always room for improvements right? Will see if shallots make a difference next time!

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