Tender and succulent. This exotic, comforting straw pork belly dish is a perfect addition to your Chinese New Year feast.
Giving “hongbao,” or red envelopes, on Lunar New Year is a common practice to show your affection for loved ones. In the spirit of giving, try also making these parcels of pork belly tied with straw.
Straw symbolizes auspiciousness and prosperity — it was an essential material for building houses in ancient China.
While we serve straw meat on New Year for good luck, straw also has medicinal value. When used in cooking, the straw naturally absorbs fat, and the essence of the straw is released into the dish to ease spleen disharmony and lessen the burden on the stomach and intestines due to overeating during New Year celebrations.
1 lb (450g) pork belly
A tuft of straw
1 tbsp (14g) oil
4 star anise
¼ tsp (2g) ground cinnamon
½ cup (120g) soy sauce
1 tbsp (13g) sugar
3 slices ginger
1. Boil one liter of water.
2. Wash pork and cut into 3 cm cubes; tie each tightly with straws.
3. Cook pork in another pot of water on low heat. Turn off heat before water boils. Remove pork and rinse.
4. Melt sugar with oil in wok on medium low heat until sugar turns tawny.
5. Add pork, remaining seasoning, and cover meat with hot water.
6. Bring to boil on high heat, cover, and cook on low heat for 50 minutes.
7. Remove lid; cook with high heat until liquid evaporates. Serve.
Note: Tie meat tightly, as it will shrink during cooking. Remove excess oil before thickening the liquid. You may substitute straw with cornhusk — the green, leafy protective layer — torn into strips.
Photography by Hsuyi Shih