Babi Pongteh

by Xinyu on 12th Jul, 2012

Posted by
chinese babi pongteh pork nonya stew braised

My grandma came over to have lunch at our place last weekend; she's peranakan, so we decided to cook something nonya. I fell back on a simple stew that I had made several times, babi pongteh. Traditionally this is made using pig's trotters, but I prefer it with a different cut, like shoulder butt.
We had also just purchased some new equipment for our kitchen: a pressure cooker! Pressure cookers make braising meat take far less time than normal, and so I tried it out on the babi pongteh. Just 30 minutes of cooking was sufficient to yield tender, falling-apart meat; normally it'd take more than 2 hours!

The key ingredient in babi pongteh is the tao cheor, or fermented soy beans. These are really salty, so beware of using too much of it, but at the same time there needs to be enough for the flavour to dominate the dish.

Note: We didn't have any green chilli at home when we made the batch shown above, so there isn't any in the photo.

Babi Pongteh

pork shoulder butt , tao cheor (fermented soy beans) , dark soy sauce , dark brown sugar , garlic , shallots , green chilli
pork shoulder butt
['pork shoulder butt']
tao cheor (fermented soy beans)
['tao cheor']
dark soy sauce
['dark soy sauce']
dark brown sugar
['dark brown sugar']
green chilli
['green chilli']
Smash garlic, and dice the shallots. Crush the tao cheor if the beans come whole; you don't need to grind it into paste, just enough such that the beans are fairly bruised.

Cut the shoulder butt into large cubes. Add some oil to a pot or wok and heat. When hot, sear one side of the pork cubes, and then flip them over to sear the other side. Once both sides are seared, put meat aside.

Add garlic and shallots into the pot, and stir-fry for a while. Add the tao cheor, and fry till it starts to get darker in colour, then add the sugar and fry till it caramelizes. If at any point it looks like things are starting to char and burn, add water and move on.

Add some water to deglaze. Add the pork, and then add enough water to just cover the pork. Taste the braising liquid and add more tao cheor if necessary. You could also add a bit of light soy suace as well. Add a few drops of dark soy sauce to give the liquid a nice brown colour.

Braise for two to three hours till the meat is soft and tender. Or, if you have a pressure cooker, cook at high pressure for 30 minutes.

Add sliced green chilli, and let it cook for a few minutes. Be careful not to overcook the chilli; it should give the dish a fresh taste. Overcooking will result in a sour flavour.

Plate and serve.
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