Braised Pork Buns (Kung Bak Pao 扣肉包): Generous portions of fork-tender, melt-in-your-mouth braised pork belly slices served with freshly steamed leaf buns, crispy lettuce, eggs and firm tofu. So delicious!
Braised Pork Buns (Kung Bak Pao) was my late father’s favourite dish, and he used to frequently bring us to Beng Hiang Restaurant for his favourite dish. In those days, it was located at an old shop house along Amoy Street, but it has recently shifted to Jurong Gateway Road.
It was (and still is) one of the most famous restaurants in those days which serves very traditional and authentic Hokkien Cuisine, and of course its specialty dish Kung Bak Pao would be seen on almost every table in that restaurant.
I just cooked Braised Pork Belly Bun (Kung Bak Pau) for my family just a few days ago. My 93 year-old mother-in-law simply enjoyed eating the Kung Bak Pau and she was very satisfied just having it for her lunch. The same can be said of my family members too. Look at how tender and moist the Kung Bak is after cutting it!
People did ask why my Kung Bak is white instead of black. My explanation is simple: instead of cutting it into small pieces to cook, I prefer to cook it first before cutting, because firstly I find the black and white contrast looks nice and appetising, and secondly the meat has a more moist and ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ texture because all the tenderness and fats are sealed in! What about you, do you like my white Kung Bak?
Braised Pork Buns (Kung Bak Pao)
Generous portions of fork-tender, melt-in-your-mouth braised pork belly slices served with freshly steamed leaf buns, crispy lettuce, eggs and firm tofu. So delicious!
- 1 kg Pork Belly
- 2 tbsp Oil
- 1 Star Anise
- 6 Clove
- 1/2 stick Cinnamon
- 5 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
- 1/2 thumb size Ginger
- 8 cloves Garlic
- 1 dash Pepper
- 6 Hard Boiled Eggs
- 2 pieces Firm Tofu (Tau Kwa)
- 1.5 litres Water
- 15 g Rock Sugar
- 2 Packets Leaf Bun (Kong Bak Pao)
- 1 Crisp Lettuce Small
- 1 sprig Parsley
PREPARATION FOR BRAISED PORK BUNS (KUNG BAK PAO) (20 mins)
Rub the skin of the pork belly with coarse salt to remove dirt and dead skin. Remove any remnant hair on the pork skin. Then place the pork belly in a wok of water, turn the heat to high and boil for about 1o mins to get rid of the blood clots and scum. Discard the water and wash the pork thoroughly.
Pat dry with kitchen towel and cut the pork belly in half (2 square pieces) and set aside.
Place the eggs in a pot. Add in tap water enough to cover the eggs. Turn heat to medium and boil the eggs for about 15-20 mins uncovered. Discard the hot water and add in tap water to cool the egg before removing the shell. then set aside.
Remove the skin from the ginger, then wash and slice it into 4-5 slices.
Wash the firm tofu (tua kwa), cut into 6 pieces and set aside.
Wash the lettuce and pat dry. Place into a sealed food container and then leave in the fridge.
Wash the parsley and cut into 1 cm lengths. Set aside.
Rinse the garlic with skin on, then smash it lightly with a chopper.
COOKING METHOD FOR BRAISED PORK BUNS (KUNG BAK PAO) (1 hr 10min)
Glaze a clean wok with a little oil over medium high heat.
When the wok is heated up, place the 2 pieces of pork belly skin down on the wok to brown. Use the back of the spatula to press the pork down against the wok so that it will brown more evenly.
Once the pork skin is nicely browned but not burnt, remove and transfer to a plate.
Using the same wok, add the 2 tbsp of oil, ginger slices, garlic, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and pepper. Fry till aromatic.
- Put the pork belly back to the wok, add in the black sauce, light sauce and salt. Fry for a few mins until well mixed .
Transfer the pork belly (skin down) together with all the other ingredients into a big pot.
- Add in 1.5 litre of water or enough water to cover the pork belly and turn heat to high. Once the water is boiling, turn heat to medium and slowly simmer the pork belly for about 1 hour, turning it over occasionally to prevent it from getting burnt at the bottom.
- Use a skewer to pierce through the meat to check if it is tender. If not, continue to simmer for another few mins.
When the pork is tender, transfer it onto a deep dish for serving.
Add the hard-boiled eggs and tua kua to the sauce and continue to simmer for another 5-7 mins. When done, cut the eggs into half and add them back to the sauce
Steam the leaf buns in a covered pot of boiling water for 8-10 minutes if frozen and 4-6 minutes if refrigerated. Make sure the water is boiling before placing the buns into the pot and wipe off any condensation from the lid before covering the pot.
Cut the pork belly into 1 cm thick slices, and drizzle some gravy over it.
Serve the pork belly slices together with the steaming hot pau, gravy with eggs and tua kua, lettuce and parsley.
- I prefer to cook Kung Bak without cutting it into small pieces especially when it is eaten with the leaf buns. Firstly, if it is too tender, the cut meat will fall apart easily. Secondly it is more presentable when the pork is cut out after cooking, there is a contrast of black and white color layer which I think look more appetising.
- You can also use tau pok to replace tau kwa or use both if that is your preference.
- You need to use a good dark soya sauce which is thick in texture and not too salty, but has some sweetness in it. I use the Elephant brand in a square bottle which is available at NTUC and Sheng Siong. You can also use the Dark Soya Sauce Superior from Kwong Cheong Thye. These two brands of dark sauce are not very salty and have some sweet taste in it. I have tried some other brands of dark soya sauce which is very salty, which I would not recommend. You need to taste it first before adding it to the pork otherwise the dish will turn out super salty. Don't mistake dark soya sauce for dark sweet sauce which is mainly use for food like Soon Kueh, Png Kueh or fried Chai Tow Kueh (Fried Carrot Cake).
- When you buy the pork belly, ask the butcher to give you the thicker part of the belly with no bone and less fat (unless you prefer the fat).
- The reason why we need to boil the pork belly is to remove the porky smell and also so that the gravy will not be cloudy after cooking.
Suggested Modifications for Special Diets
- Child-Friendly: No modifications needed.
- Egg-Free: Skip the eggs.
- Fish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Nut-Free: No modifications needed.
- Shellfish-Free: No modifications needed.
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