Taiwanese Lu Rou Fan: Sweet & Savory Braised Pork Rice
The aroma of freshly steamed rice and the rich bite of braised pork: combining these two perfect foods makes for a delicious dish full of flavor and life.
Lu rou fan is one of those incredible dishes that always feels good. This Taiwanese meal combines simple ingredients with expert techniques to make for a mouthwatering outcome.
This dish is a must-have in your recipe book, so we’ve come up with a guide to lu rou fan.
What Is Lu Rou Fan?
Lu rou fan is a fairly simple dish at its core. Pork belly is braised in a delicious mixture of flavors and then served over a bowl of hot, steamy rice.
The dish is incredibly popular in street carts in Taiwan. Originally, the dish was created to try and utilize every part of the pig. Any leftover meat from various pork cuts was compiled together and diced to serve as the meat base for the dish.
Today, pork belly is used to make for juicy, tender, delicious meat with every bite.
Fast forward a few hundred years, and lu rou fan is a popular dish, not just for the common person, but for any price range. It can be elegant and high-end, or accessible.
What Ingredients Do I Need To Make Lu Rou Fan?
You’ll need to gather a few ingredients to make lu rou fan, but the effort is absolutely worth it. Don’t skip out on any of them! These special ingredients are essential to getting that classic lu rou fan flavor.
The star of the lu rou fan show is pork belly. Chefs often use the neck portion of the meat, which is said to have a better aroma and texture. To get the best quality lu rou fan, it’s recommended that you use pork belly that is 70% fat and 30% meat. In addition, the meat is blanched before being cut and braised.
Next, you’ll need some cooking oil. The pork belly is briefly stir-fried for a crispy layer. The oil will help to give your pork belly that ideal texture you’re looking for.
Sugar is another crucial ingredient for lu rou fan. The appeal of lu rou fan is the brilliant combination of sweet and savory flavors. Sugar gives a simple sweetness that plays very well with the rich umami of the pork and soy sauce.
Shallots are a very important ingredient for lu rou fan. It gives a sweet, delicate, onion-like flavor that helps to make this dish incredible.
Mushrooms and Onions
Mushrooms and onions are a classic combination. Shiitake mushrooms help to make the sauce delicious and savory, and the onions combine with the shallots to create a deep onion-like taste.
Light and Dark Soy Sauce
The light soy sauce and dark soy sauce work together to create a detailed depth of flavor. Make sure you use both light and dark soy sauce.
The creaminess of a hard boiled egg works in great contrast to the rich sweetness of the braising sauce. It’s a great topping that is commonly served with lu rou fan.
And if you like your yolk to be a little runny, make it a soft boiled egg to add another layer of complexity to the sauce.
This famous Chinese cooking wine is another essential ingredient for lu rou fan. Made from fermented rice, shaoxing wine enhances the relish of a dish and adds a spicy and caramel-like aroma to it. You definitely don’t want to miss out on what shaoxing wine brings to the table!
To fully cook the pork belly, bring the water to a boil and simmer as you incorporate all of the ingredients.
There are already so many delicious flavors present in lu rou fan, but to tie everything together you want to add a few spices to the mix.
All of these ingredients are cooked together and poured over a steaming pile of white rice. It makes for a hearty meal that is filling and nutritious. Rice is an important part of many Asian dishes, and lu rou fan is no exception.
How Do I Make Lu Rou Fan?
Now that you’ve gathered all the important ingredients, it’s time to get to work and hit the kitchen! Your delicious lu rou fan will be ready in just a few short hours.
Blanch Your Pork Belly
The first step is to blanch your pork belly. Simply bring a pot of water to a boil and cook in your large, uncut pork belly in it for three to four minutes. This process is essential for a number of reasons. First, it will make your pork belly easier to cut into small cubes.
You can buy pork belly pre-cubed if you want to save a bit of time, but buying a whole cut of pork belly with the skin on makes for a really great flavor and texture, and it will save you a few dollars.
Add Sugar, Mushrooms, and Onions to Hot Oil
After you’ve gotten your pork belly into small cubes, put your cooking oil in a wok or large skillet and get it nice and hot, about medium-high heat. Quickly saute your pork belly to begin to render the fat, and then add your garlic and ginger to get it fragrant.
At that point, add your mushrooms, onions, shallots, and sugar to your pan. Sauteing this way activates the flavors of all of these ingredients, which will make for a much richer, more delicious final product.
Add the Rest of Your Ingredients
Once your ingredients are about halfway cooked, it’s time to add the rest of your ingredients. Add your light and dark soy sauce, the Shaoxing wine, and the water. Mix everything together to incorporate all the ingredients, and now you’ve made your braising liquid.
Bring to a Boil
Next, slowly bring your mixture up to a boil. You want it to slowly climb to a boil instead of quickly. If you move too quickly, you could get some of the sugar and other ingredients stuck on the bottom of the pan, so keep the heat on the low side of medium-high and be patient.
Once your mixture has come to a boil, it’s time to add some additional spices to the mix. There are a lot of different delicious options out there. It’s best to get whole dried spices, bundle them up with a small piece of cheesecloth and kitchen string and toss the bundle into the pot.
Some great spices to include are cinnamon sticks, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, slices of tangerine peel, and bay leaves. You can also add Chinese five-spice powder and white pepper. Mix in your spices, and you’re ready for the next step.
Reduce to a Simmer
After your spices are incorporated, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cover your pot. You’re going to want to simmer everything for about three hours, so let it simmer.
Come back every thirty or forty minutes to check on it and stir everything. Again, you don’t want anything sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stirring will help to keep everything mixed together correctly throughout the cooking process.
With about 20 or 30 minutes left in the cooking process, it’s a good time to start your rice. Wash your rice and start your rice cooker so it finishes at about the same time as the pork belly.
Increase Heat and Let Thicken
After a few hours, it’s time to thicken up your sauce and get it ready to serve. That sticky texture is part of the quintessential lu rou fan experience, so this is an incredibly important step.
If you’re having a difficult time getting your sauce to be thick and sticky, make a simple corn starch slurry and add a couple of tablespoons of that to your mixture. It should help speed up the thickening process if it’s having a hard time.
Serve With Rice
Once your rice and pork are done, it’s time to serve up your delicious meal. Place a healthy serving of rice in a bowl and top it off with your braise pork. Top with chopped green onions for a colorful contrast, and you’re ready to enjoy your culinary masterpiece!
Lu rou fan is relatively low in calories and has a nice healthy portion of protein. It’s a great meal that the Taiwanese have been eating for centuries to give them the proper fuel for their work and lives.
Do I Eat Lu Rou Fan With Only Rice?
Lu rou fan is definitely best with a nice serving of rice. The sticky sauce pairs very well with the rice, making for a fantastic texture.
But you could also serve your lu rou fan over your favorite noodles if you want. In addition, lu rou fan sauce is often used to add some flavor to some blanched vegetables. The sauce is savory and flexible, so add it to whatever you like.
How Should I Store Leftovers?
Keep your lu rou fan sauce in an airtight container in the fridge. It should last about four days. Wrap a ball of your rice in some plastic wrap and store it in the freezer. It reheats well in the microwave and won’t get dried out.
How Do I Reheat Lu Rou Fan?
The best way to reheat lu rou fan is over the stove. Put it on a medium-low heat in a covered pot, and you’ll have amazing leftovers in just a few short minutes.
The Bottom Line
Lu rou fan is the epitome of Taiwanese food. It’s savory and wonderfully sweet. It’s one of those meals that just has it all. And now you know how to make it! So get in the kitchen and get your hands dirty. You may have just found your new favorite meal.
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