Since my last post was on how to make 5 spice powder at home, it seemed only natural to share a tau yew bak, or soy sauce braised pork, recipe next. Singapore is famous for its food scene and many of its dishes, such as Singapore Chilli Crab and Hainanese Chicken Rice, are world-famous but unfortunately tau yew bak is not as well known. (Tau yew is the Hokkien word for soya sauce and bak meat so, as you can see, the name is rather literal!) A staple dish in most Singaporean Chinese families- not just Hokkien ones- tau yew bak is a comfort food that is as easy to make as it is delicious! (In fact, it’s probably not commonly found in hawker centres or restaurants precisely because it’s so easy to make!)
Ingredients in soy sauce braised pork
There are 2 variations of tau yew bak- one that uses white pepper and another that uses 5 spice powder. (You can make your own 5 spice powder or get it from most supermarkets.) (I may be wrong but it seems that it’s the Malaysian version that leans towards white pepper and the Singaporean one that incorporates 5 spice powder? Any Malaysians/ Singaporeans, please feel free to comment below!) Other than that, the recipe calls for pork, garlic, soya sauce (both light soy for flavour and dark soy for colour and some sweetness), sugar and salt (to taste). To bulk out the dish on a budget, (firm) tofu, hard boiled eggs and peanuts (not typical but we do love nuts in my household) can be added as well.
Tau yew bak, or pork braised with soy sauce
- 250 g pork shoulder butt (8.81 oz) Some recipes call for pork belly but I find that too oily. Pork shoulder butt gives a great combination of fat and lean meat.
- 1 T light soy sauce
- 1/2 T dark soy sauce If you like your food on the sweeter side, you can use kicap manis instead of dark soy sauce.
- 1/2 T 5 spice powder
- Oil To taste
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt To taste
- Hard boiled eggs/ firm tofu/ cooked peanuts Optional
- Coriander leaves to garnish (rough chop) Optional
- Sambal belacan Optional (In Singapore, a lot of people like to eat their tau yew bak and rice with the local chilli, sambal belacan.)
- Cut the pork into small pieces, about twice the thickness of your little finger
- Add both soy sauces and the 5 spice powder to the pork, mix well then cover and keep in the fridge for 4h- overnight
- Remove the pork from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. In the meantime, mince up your garlic.
- Heat your pot over low-medium heat, then add some oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the garlic and stir fry till fragrant.
- Increase the heat to medium then add the pork and brown the pieces.
- Add enough water to cover the pork then cover and simmer for 40 minutes. If including hard boiled eggs/ tofu/ peanuts (cooked), add them in during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking. At the same time, taste and salt the stew accordingly. (You can actually add them in earlier if you want their flavour to be more concentrated, however this will give you overcooked eggs with the tell-tale green rim around the powdery yolks)
Does your family recipe for soy sauce braised pork differ from mine? I’d love to hear about it as I’m doing a post comparing different recipes to come up with the ultimate tau yew bak recipe next!