Here it is, husband's own recipe for braised pork. It is very much like the man himself, simple and not in the least fussy. Others may put five-spice powder, dried orange peel, cinnamon, etc but none of that for him. The only concession he made was the addition of dried chillies a few years ago, after I commented that my family sometimes added this to make the dish less one-dimensional.
Usually he makes this dish with half the quantity but like all long-cooked meat dishes, it improves with age; last Sunday he decided to make enough so that we can eat the leftovers during the week. If you are making it for the first time, try halving the ingredients.
The dried ingredients are also optional, feel free to add whatever you fancy or have available in the pantry. We happened to visit the dried goods wholesaler on Saturday so there was plenty of dried goods to play around with, but most of the time it is made with just pork and mushrooms.
1.8 kg pork belly, cut into chunks - fresh chilled pork from the wet market makes a superior product compared to the frozen version, and the butcher should be able to recommend a suitable cut.
10 cloves garlic, unpeeled
8 dried chillies, rinsed not soaked
2 tablespoons dark soya sauce to marinate
2-2.5 tablespoons dark soya sauce for cooking (titrate according to amount of dried ingredients)
Rock sugar, to taste
10 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked, rinsed and halved
8 pieces dried oyster, soaked and rinsed
1 dried squid, soaked, rinsed,deveined, sliced
3 pieces tau-kan / tau kee (dried bean sticks), soaked 5 minutes only, cut into finger-length pieces.
Marinate pork with soya sauce, garlic and dried chillies. Overnight if possible, otherwise a minimum of 2 hours .
Heat oil in wok and quickly sear the pork. Then and add prepared dried ingredients (except tau kee) to mix. Transfer to a cooking pot, add the marinade liquid and top up with boiled water until the meat is completely submerged. Add the second portion of soya sauce. Bring to a boil and lower heat to simmering point. Let it cook a further 2-2.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
45 minutes before end of cooking time add the tau kee, but do not stir too much or it will unfurl and make the dish look very messy.
At the end of cooking, add a little rock sugar to taste. A 20-cent nugget is usually enough to mellow the edge of the soy and make the gravy taste smoother.
Serve with rice, congee or mix with noodles. I imagine it will taste good in a sandwich too.