Ying's ideas of easy Chinese home-cooking

Hakka Braised Dry Bamboo Shoot with Pork Belly

客家筍乾燒肉

Among all vegetables, bamboo shoot is my favourite, the only one. Recently, a relative gave me some dried bamboo shoots, labeled Guangning Dry Bamboo Shoot. Guangning of Canton Province is the hometown of my late grandpa, mum’s father. It’s a hilly district where Hakka is the major population. Various hilly products, such as bamboo, mushrooms and fungus grow in mountain area of the city. As far as I know, grandpa had hardly gone home since he joined the army. But Hakka culture had influenced him forever, for example, he had strong Hakka accent with spoken Cantonese, he considered study hard was crucial for us, and he was the only one who took control of the whole family, etc.

Most significant, grandpa had a Hakka stomach, so in our dining table, Hakka cuisine had been mostly served. As I mentioned in my previous post, my aunt is the chef of the family, especially good at preparing Hakka cuisine. She can always obtain best quality natural food products from her many friends. I learnt cooking from her, not my parents. One of my favourite dishes she cooks is Braised Bamboo Shoot with Pork Belly, also one of the representative Hakka home cuisine.

Bamboo shoot, no matter dry or fresh, is a very lean vegetable, and needs fat meat to cook with. In this recipe, pork belly with skin is used. Skin produces gelatin in slow cooking and makes the sauce stickier and more flavourful. I always claim meat with bone and skin is always tastier than those without. Chicken, duck or pork ribs are good as well. By the way, good dry bamboo shoot is not easily obtained everywhere, not even in Hong Kong, not to say Chinese or Asian grocery stores oversea. However, fresh bamboo shoots are commonly seen, so do try my Braised Pork recipe with fresh bamboo shoots!

Ingredients –
Dry bamboo shoots, 100g;
Pork belly, 300g;
Dry shiitake mushroom, 4;
Beer, 1 tin, 500ml;
Ginger, 30g;
Bay leaves, 3;
Crystal sugar, 30g;
Dark soy sauce, 2tbsp;
Light soy sauce, 4tbsp;
Salt.

How to do –

1. Dry bamboo shoot must be soaked in clean water overnight. Change water once. Dry shiitake mushroom also, halve if they are too big;

2. Let’s deal with the pork. For braising, I always blanch and brown the fat meat first. Bring a pot of water to boil, put in the pork belly, lid on, cook for 2 minutes in high heat, then heat off, let it sit for 5 more minutes in the pot. Then remove, cool down a little bit, cut to bite size;

3. Heat 2tbsp of oil in hot pan, put in the pork, fry till brown both sides and fat released;

4. In the same pan, put in the bamboo shoots and fry with the pork for 1 minute;

5. Transfer them to a cast iron casserole, put in ginger slices, bay leaves, sugar, soy sauce, and a tin of beer, a little more water till all ingredients covered. Mix well, lid on, bring to boil, then simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour in medium low heat. Check and stir after 30 minutes, adjust the taste with more salt or sugar;

6. Reduce the sauce in high heat. Heat off, lid on, and let it sit in the pot for 20 more minutes, then serve with steamed rice.

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