Soya Pressure Pork
This classic Asian dish usually requires quite a bit of time on the stove before the pork becomes meltingly soft. But with the help of a pressure cooker, not only can you achieve tender pork, but you also don’t need to pre-soak any of the dried ingredients!
Soya braised pork is something most Asian-Chinese households have grown up eating. Some versions have warming spices such as cinnamon and star anise, while others have add-ons such as bamboo shoots, dried mushrooms, or beancurd puffs.
The version I grew up with was lightly spiced with cinnamon, star anise, and usually cooked with fried tofu puffs, hard boiled eggs, dried shiitake mushrooms and chestnuts. When served with a side of fresh steamed veggies and white rice, it is a completely, deliciously, comforting meal.
The versatility of the braising sauce goes a long way, and my favorite part of this dish is how it goes with pretty much any plain side to make a great Asian meal – serve it with rice, noodles or steamed plain buns and a side of greens for maximum enjoyment. I usually make a big batch of this and freeze the extras for a quick meal on a busy day.
In terms of what kind of meat to use, any cut of pork suited to stewing would be suitable. The classic cuts to use are pork belly, or ‘twee bak’ aka pork butt aka pork shoulder. Pork belly is the fattier option but will yield supremely soft pork that just melts in your mouth. If you decide on pork butt, try to get cuts of meat that have fat marbled through nicely. This will help prevent the meat from drying out.
The final tip I have for great pressure cooker pork is to let the pressure naturally release once the dish cooking time is done. As a general rule, when cooking meat in a pressure cooker, it should be left for about 20 minutes after the cooking time to allow pressure to naturally release. This ensures tender meat.
Makes 4-5 servings
- 600g pork belly or twee bak (pork shoulder), cut into 3cm cubes
- 100-200g dried chestnuts
- 100-200g dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 bulbs of garlic, tops sliced off and cloves separated
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 3-5 star anise
- 3 dried cloves (optional)
- 5 dried cardamom pods (optional)
- 30g brown sugar
- 1 cup light soya sauce
- 1 cup dark soya sauce
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp ground white pepper
- 3 spring onions, sliced (optional garnish)
- Crispy fried shallots (optional garnish)
- Coriander, chopped roughly (optional garnish)
- Place all ingredients in pressure cooker.
- Mix well to ensure ingredients are combined.
- The amount of liquid should be about 1cm below the ingredients in the pot. Add more water if required.
- Cover and set pressure cooker to stew.
- Once cooking is done, leave pressure cooker alone for about 20 minutes for pressure to naturally release.
- Test pressure release valve by slowly releasing it, if no steam escapes, natural pressure release was successfully completed.
- Transfer to a large sharing dish, and garnish as desired.
- Alternatively, serve with some fresh steamed greens and white rice for a complete meal.
- You can also add in fried tofu puffs, firm beancurd, or hard boiled eggs. The eggs will be overcooked though.
- Using the pressure cooker, you don’t need to presoak the dried ingredients. Just ensure that there is enough liquid for the dried items to rehydrate.
- Use quality soy sauce (light and dark) for this dish. Cheaper ones usually contain lots of additives and salt. Look for soya sauces that are of premium or superior quality, and have ingredient labels that you understand.