Tau Yew Bak Dinner Party (Pork stewed in Soy Sauce)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dear Food Team

I thought we cooked a splendid dinner tonight.

I will jot down some notes here for our future remembrance, which means, please do cook this again.

Planning a meal is about matching various dishes together. If you serve a meal in a buffet spread, our guests will be piling food on their plates. The sauces are going to mix. Think of how sambal belachan will mess up delicately steamed pork ribs. Or how the pickled salad sauce will affect how a "Chai poh nung." So when you plan an Alpha meal, think of what will actually go on the diner's plate, how it will all come together.

Tonight's meal is almost a perfect combi. Food traditions are seldom wrong.

We know Tau Yew Bak goes well with Tau Kwa (Bean Curd) and Sambal Belachan. Don't forget the hard-boiled eggs of course.

What veg will match these? Now that Australian green beans are in season, they are a perfect match, adding a crunchy texture.  They go so well with sambal belachan too.

It was a plate of homey comfort food to the max and I think our guests enjoyed it very much. I certainly did.

We used 12 kilos of pork belly and that fed about 100 pax with some leftovers. 1 kilo of garlic, some rock sugar, soy sauce and dark sauce. As for the sauces, we used the better "superior" ones. Caramelise the sugar, then add the star aniseeds and cinnamon barks. Then the garlic cloves, skin on and all. Also some crushed white pepper. Then add the pork. And then the sauces. Some salt was necessary.

As always, put on slow fire and be patient. Since the quantity is huge, the pork needs to be stirred frequently. Cover occasionally for no more than 10 minutes before stirring again. Low and slow. It took us about 2 hours to cook it. If you use a deep flat pot, that will be the best. Taste constantly to get the flavour balance right.

As for the eggs, after they are peeled, pour some sauce from the TYB and leave them in another container to flavour and color the eggs. Halve them with a string.

The Australian green beans can stand some serious wok hei and remain crunchy and green. At least 5 minutes to get them caramelised (these are sugar beans) with some smoky aroma. Some garlic and salt is all you need. It is really difficult to overcook this and don't be afraid to give it some serious wok heat.

As for sambal belachan, do a simple one: belachan, fresh chilli (we used 50), some chilli padi and some lime juice. Use the blender, of course.

If you ask the pork seller to cut up the pork belly, it will make life easier. 12 kilos is a lot of work if you do not have a sharp cleaver. Remember that pork will always shrink a bit and so, get the size right.

As for the Tau Kwa, it can be braised in the TYB sauce. But if it is the fresh Tau Kwa (made on same day), deep frying it and serving it plain is one good way of taking advantage of the smooth and "just right" texture. Diners can add belachan or more TYB sauce as they like. It goes very well with everything else on the plate.

Good job. Please do it again for some future Alphas. I will add some pictures here for some visuals.

I have done up the TYB recipe here and made some further comments here. Do note that I will vary the recipe at times. Not a problem as long as the fundamentals of TYB are observed.

Get the sugar, spices, pepper and garlic roasted properly
Deep fried Tau Kwa
Giving the green beans some good wok hei

The string slices the egg perfectly
A perfect combi

You Might Also Like


  1. Hi Terry,

    I love your recipes, the ones I've tried so far (char siew, nasi lemak) are really reliable and oh so delicious! Thanks for your generosity in sharing them. Could you also give us the proportions for your sambal belachan? Thank you!!