Buah Keluak Toyu Bak (Braised Pork Belly)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

As I have mentioned before, there is no reason why Buah Keluak (BK) cannot be a regular feature in your daily dinners.

Buying ready-made paste is easy from the dry good stalls at Tekka or Geylang markets. You can add the flavours of this nutty flavoured paste to many of your existing recipes.

You would have come across my Toyu Bak recipe, here and here.

We made a buah keluak flavoured Toyu Bak recent for our Alpha dinner, serving more than a hundred diners. It was a side dish to Nasi Ulam and we kept the BK flavour light so as not to overwhelm the nasi. I will scale down the recipe here for the home dinner.

A good toyu bak needs lots of garlic and good soy sauces, both light and thick versions. The BK paste replaces the thick soy sauce. And add lots of black pepper. I happen to have the Kampot variety (Cambodian) which are simply the best.

A batach we made recently for an Alpha dinner

For 2 kg of pork belly, here is the recipe:

300 gm of buah keluak paste
100 ml of soy sauce
2 tbsp of sugar or gula Melaka
2 tbsp of assam paste
400 gm of garlic cloves
20 gm of black peppercorns
1 tbsp of oil
50 gm of blue ginger (optional)

The pork belly should be in a good size chunks of about 2 cm in length and thickness. The meat will shrink as you braise. And skin on, of course.

Mash the buah keluak (bk) into a paste. Just add some water to the BK pieces in a bowl and press with your hands. It mashes very easily.

Add 1 tbsp of oil to a heated pot. A good braising pot should have a thick bottom so that your meat will not burn easily.

Bruise the garlic cloves, lightly and add into the pot. Add the sugar or gula melaka and stir fry for about 5 minutes. Add the pork belly cubes. Then add the soy sauce and BK paste.

Simmer in low heat for about 45 minutes. I have shared many times on the need for  the "slow and low" technique to make good TYB. Stir once in a while and add some more water only if you think the dish is drying out and to prevent bottom burning. Adjust the sweetness and saltiness along the way, especially towards the end.

Towards the end, add the lightly crushed black peppercorns. You can use a leasing (mortar) or use a cleaver to knock on the peppercorns in a plastic.

Garnish with coriander leaves. It goes very well with white steamed rice. Some Sambal Belachan on the side will be great.

This recipes is just a guide. If you like stronger taste of BK, just add more.

Photos: Joyce Ho

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