Auntie Ruby's Hakka Deep Fried Pork

Sunday, July 03, 2011

I was told that Hakka folks (客家人)are a stubborn people.

"Hakka" literally means "guest people." They are migrants who travel in search of a better life or mostly, simply to survive. This migratory instinct also led many to migrate overseas.

This may explain their stubborn trait and resilience as a people.

Hakka deep fried pork ("Zhar Yoke") is one of my Mum's signature dishes which I eventually manage to replicate.  

I said eventually, as I could not get it right, even though I followed her written recipe to the tee. In fact, the last time I made it, it tasted so different. Out of sheer frustration, I almost called my Mum down from heaven.

And I suppose that bit of Hakka stubborn trait kept me from giving up.

On the 8th time, as I was marinating it yet again, I showed my fermented beancurd to my Mama and she said, "It is Nam Yee, not Fu Yee."

I stopped dead in my tracks.
Er...this is Nam Yee. A recent education for me.

If I had a pigtail like what my Hakka coolie grandpa probably had, it would have felt like someone had yanked it.

"It is Nam Yee!" Ouch.

RED fermented beancurd. Not white. Nam. Not Fu.

Stupid of me, right? Do yank my pigtail again. Gently please.

So after the eighth try, on 27th of June 2011, I manage to reproduce this piece of Auntie Ruby's Hakka tradition.

And I have found a new respect for my Mum's written recipes: she was actually quite accurate.

I will post it here below with minimal revision.

As the skin can be difficult to crisp up, you can choose to remove it. I sometimes fry it with skin on and let diner decide whether they want to chew on it. If you are using it to make Hakka Braised Pork Belly (a popular Hakka dish), then you should leave the skin on as the braising process will soften the skin.

Auntie Ruby's Hakka Deep Fried Pork Recipe

1 kilo Pork Belly (3 layered)

For the Marinate:

2 pieces of red fermented beancurd (Nam Yee)
½ teaspoon 5-spiece powder
½ teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon Sesame Oil
2 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon dark (thick) soy source
2 eggs
½ teaspoon white pepper powder
2 teaspoon Chinese wine or brandy

Batter for frying
2 tablespoon  Plain flour
1 tablespoon Rice flour
1 tablespoon Corn Flour

1. Remove the skin on the pork. Cut into 1½" to 2 inch pieces .
2. Mix all ingredients and marinate the pork pieces for at least 4 hours or overnight
3. Mix the 3 types of flour thoroughly.
4. Heat oil in wok for deep frying
5. Dip the pork pieces into the flour and coat lightly
6. Deep-fry the pieces till they are brown and crispy.
7. Drain the oil in colander and using paper towels on a plate

Serve immediately.

Use this is good. The bottle looks cool.
It is not difficult to make this dish. It takes some experimenting to get what you want consistently when it comes to deep frying it. As with all good techniques for deep frying, do not start with too low a fire or your pork will just be soft and soggy. Start with at least a medium flame and there should be a nice sizzling sound when you put the pork in. Towards the end, you can raise a the flame a little to get it into a deep brown colour. Remember to use a flat colander to scoop up the fried 'debris' as that can clutter the latter batches of pork. 

Some prefer it crispier and thus, darker. If you like an added twinge of sweetness, add in some sugar just before you dip it into the flour and the fry (this will also result in a darker outcome). Some like to fry some whole garlic with it and serve alongside.

Remember that the pork pieces will shrink and so don't cut it too small.

It is best eaten with rice or as an accompaniment to another dish. My Mum liked to serve it with her Prawn Mee. You can also stir-fry it with black fungus and that will go superbly with rice. 


So, what is in a Nam...? I don't know, but that will not be your mistake to make.

I know, all my Hakka friends are sniggering away. And the modern ones will lol and rofl.

Be quiet you - at least I did not give up !

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  1. next time you're stuck, ask the facebook community.

  2. my mom (a hakka too) used to make this every new year. it can keep for up to a week and has a different taste even when cold but still nice. have not had it since my mom passed away years ago. thanks for the recipe. i'll definitely have to try it soon!

    qn: Black suace = black soya sauce?


  3. Yes, FB community is a great source of info.

    Black Sauce = dark soya sauce

    Yes, I enjoy it cold too and it can keep for weeks in the fridge.

  4. I loved the hakka fried pork. But when I braised it with black fungus for 40 minutes, it becomes so starchy. Anyway I can solve this problem ? Does the problem lies with the flour ?

  5. If u intend to go to the next step and make the braise, reduce the amount of flour used for the coating. Also make sure you remove the 'loose debris' from the fried pork so that they do not starch up your sauce. As the pork is already cooked, you should add them towards the last 10 minutes of your braise. Remember that even after cooking, the pork will continue to soak in the sauce. If you cook for too long, basically water will evaporate and your dish become thicker. When heated, a flour-ladened sauce will thicken.

  6. Chinese wine = rice wine? hua tiao wine?

    Mrs Lim

  7. Hua Tiao wine. Sometime my Mum uses brandy/VSOP if Chinese wine not available

  8. Hi,
    Does this recipe work with chicken? Also, can I use shaoxsing wine instead?

  9. My grandpa's favorite ingredients to cook with - pork belly! It just doesn't get any more Hakka than that :)