On the menu

Recipe: Lu rou fan, a beloved Taiwanese comfort food

Lu rou fan is a slow-braised-until-melting meat sauce, served over rice

A beloved Taiwanese comfort food, lu rou fan is a slow-braised-until-melting meat sauce, served over rice, says Pippa Middlehurst. The texture of the meat varies depending on the region, with chunkier hand-cut pieces of pork belly being more common in the south, and mince (ground pork) in the north. Sometimes it is served with hard-boiled eggs.

I first tried this dish in Taipei, served in a paper bowl with a small plastic spoon, with additional condiments on the table, says Middlehurst. This is my version of that much-loved dish.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 600g skin-on pork belly, diced into 1cm chunks
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp light (soft) brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 120ml light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 pinch of ground white pepper
  • 700ml water
  • 6 tbsp shop-bought crispy fried shallots
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 600g steamed jasmine rice

Method:

  • In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the neutral oil over a medium-high heat. Add the diced pork and fry until the fat starts to render and the meat begins to turn golden. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the sugar and heat until it starts to caramelise and coat the pork. Add the Shaoxing rice wine and let this bubble gently with the sugar and pork.
  • Add the honey, light soy sauce, five spice, cinnamon, dark soy sauce, pepper and water, and stir to combine. Bring to a low simmer and stir in the crispy fried shallots. Place a lid on the pan and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the meat is tender and the sauce is thickened and glossy. If the sauce thickens too quickly or begins to burn, add more water (60ml at a time).
  • Drop the eggs into a pan of boiling water and cook for 51⁄2 minutes. Remove and rinse under cold water to cool before peeling. 5 minutes before serving, add the eggs into the braising meat and toss to coat in the braising liquor. Serve with steamed rice.
  • For the steamed rice: the basic principle is the same volume of water to rice. Make sure you rinse the rice thoroughly at least three times to get rid of excess starch, then drain. Place the rinsed rice and 590ml of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 15 minutes or until the water has evaporated. Turn the heat off and leave the lid on for a further 10 minutes – don’t peek! Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Bowls and Broths book cover

Taken from Bowls & Broths: Build a Bowl of Flavour from Scratch, with Dumplings, Noodles and More by Pippa Middlehurst, published by Quadrille at £16.99. To buy from The Week Bookshop for £13.99, call 020-3176 3835 or visit theweekbookshop.co.uk.

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