Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice Bowl /Lu Rou Fan
Updated: Feb 17
by Philli Armitage-Mattin from Taste Kitchen: Asia
(The Little Brown Book Group) Photography: Phoebe Pearson
Lu rou fan is one of the most popular dishes in Taipei and for good reason: it’s fatty, rich, comforting and packed with intense soy flavours.
Now, what’s the difference between light and dark soy sauce? I get asked this all the time, and because I like to keep the kitchen cupboard as simple as possible I generally only use light soy sauce, as it drives the salty flavour. Light is most versatile, often used in dressings and to add flavour. Dark soy sauce is used in braises; it’s mainly for colour and sweetness, and it isn’t as salty, which I always found surprising.
Once you’re done with the sauce you might think it’s a little fatty; if so, simply boil up the sauce and use peanut butter as an emulsifier, as Eric from 886, NYC ingeniously invented. To balance the richness of the dish, grab some pickles to brighten up the flavour.
10g dried shitake mushrooms (optional)
800g/1lb 1½oz skin-on pork belly, cut into 1.5cm/½in pieces
25g/1oz white sugar
2 tbsp neutral oil
5cm/2in piece of ginger, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
4 spring onions, white part for cooking, green for garnish, sliced
1½ tbsp light soy sauce
1½ tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp five-spice powder
½ tbsp peanut butter
Crispy Things (see below)
Quick Pickled Cucs (see below)
Cooked short-grain rice
1. If using shitake mushrooms, take 100ml/3½ fl oz of boiling water and pour it over the dried shitake mushrooms in a heatproof container.
2. Put the diced pork in a large wok or saucepan and cover with water. Simmer over a low heat for 30–40 minutes.
3. Remove the pork, strain through a colander and discard the water.
4. Wipe the wok clean and add the sugar and 1 tablespoon of water. Heat once more to allow the sugar to become a golden brown caramel.
5. Add 50ml/1½ fl oz hot water, then pour the caramel sauce into a small container and put the wok back on the hob.
6. Wipe the wok clean, add the oil and the reserved pork belly. Caramelise in 2 batches for 6–7 minutes per batch until golden. Remove the pork and transfer to a plate.
7. Remove the shitake mushrooms from the water, keeping the water for later. Slice up the mushrooms.
8. Add the sliced shitake mushrooms, ginger, garlic and white part of the spring onions and fry for 3–4 minutes over a medium heat.
9. Add in both soy sauces and cook down for 2–3 minutes.
10. Add 400ml/14fl oz water, the mushroom water (from earlier), caramelised pork, five-spice and the caramel sauce that you made earlier. Allow to cook down, uncovered, over a medium heat for 30–40 minutes. You want the pork super tender and the sauce thick, just coating the pork.
11. Stir in the peanut butter and turn down the heat.
12. Taste and adjust the sauce to your palate.
13. Serve with the sliced green part of the spring onion with Crispy Things, Quick Pickled Cucs and steamed rice.
Quick Pickled Cucs
If you don’t have the time to wait for pickles overnight or, like me, you forgot, cucs are your bestie. You can slice and mix, and they only take 20 minutes. Perfect for a last-minute garnish.
2 jam jars, sterilised
½ cucumber, sliced as thin as you can
4 tbsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
Mix all your ingredients and marinate for 20 minutes. The cucumber will lightly pickle and soften.
Use a mandoline to get evenly cut cucumber without pro chef skills. Just make sure you’re careful and use the guard, as the blade is super sharp, and you can cut yourself easily.
100ml/3½ fl oz oil
1. Slice the shallots super thin (do this with a mandoline for precision but be careful and always use a guard).
2. Put the oil in a small frying pan and add the shallots. Slowly heat the oil and keep turning the shallots.
3. Keep slowly cooking until the shallots are golden.
4. Remove them from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
5. Store in a sealed container at room temperature.