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Sweet soy pork with mushrooms and star anise Recipe

Sweet soy pork with mushrooms and star anise Recipe

Sweet soy pork with mushrooms and star anise Recipe

This caramelised pork dish which is known in Malaysia as Tau Yew Bak was a speciality of my Cantonese amah who understood that the flavour and aroma that went hand in hand to create it. Over the years I’ve improved it by adding black bean sauce and chilli and caramelising the pork so that it becomes a dish with an amazing complexity of flavour. Once I had difficulty getting some air tickets for a television program overseas. I invited the manager of an airline company and served him dinner with this dish. We got the tickets. It may be a coincidence, but this dish has always worked its magic at other times and a colleague of mine dubbed it my “lethal weapon.” It might bring you success too!

Ingredients :

    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 6 cloves garlic, bruised
    • 500 g (1 lb) pork belly, skin removed and discarded, cubed
    • 500 g (1 lb) pork ribs or 300 g (10 oz) pork shoulder, sliced into pieces
    • 3 star anise pods, coarsely ground in a mortar
    • 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan pepper (optional)
    • 2 tablespoons chilli black bean sauce
    • 2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek Chilli Paste or other sweet chilli paste
    • 1/2 cup (125 ml) thick sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
    • 3 cups (750 ml) water
    • 2 teaspoons shaved palm sugar or dark brown sugar
    • 3/8 cup (100 ml) sweet Chinese black vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
    • 8 dried black Chinese mushrooms, soaked in hot water until soft, drained and stir-fried in 2 teaspoons of oil for 2–3 minutes
    • Salt, to taste
    • Crispy Fried Garlic, to garnish
    • Green Onion Curls, to garnish


    • 1/2 cup (125 ml) vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced

Method :

    1. Make the Crispy Fried Garlic and Green Onion Curls.
    2. Prepare the Sweet Cucumber Pickles by combining the vinegar and sugar in a bowl and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cucumber slices and mix well. Allow to marinate for 2 hours and drain the pickles just before serving.
    3. Heat the oil in a wok and stir-fry the garlic over high heat until golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add both types of pork, the star anise and Sichuan pepper (if using) and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes. Add the chilli black bean sauce, Sambal Oelek Chilli Paste and thick sweet soy sauce and toss well to coat the pork with the sauce.
    4. Pour in the water and bring the ingredients to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer covered until the pork is very tender, about 20–30 minutes. Season with the sugar, vinegar and rice wine, and stir in the mushrooms. Half cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 1 hour, until the pork is tender and the sauce is thick but not completely dried up. Increase the heat to medium, season with salt to taste and stir-fry the pork to coat it evenly with the sauce. Remove from the heat.
    5. Transfer the pork to a serving bowl and sprinkle with Crispy Fried Garlic. Garnish with Green Onion Curls and serve immediately with steamed rice and the Sweet Cucumber Pickles on the side.

SERVES : 6–8  
PREPARATION TIME : 45 mins + marination time
COOKING TIME : 1 hour 10 mins