One of the dishes we request for when we are back in Singapore is Babi Pongtay. It is a Peranakan dish. Each family has their own special version. I learnt my first one from my mother-in-law, and subsequently added potatoes after seeing other recipes that included it. I also added sweet sauce and reduced the amount of sugar used. This is best eaten over a steaming bowl of rice. I get carried away and easily eat twice the amount of rice to savour the sauce. Do not try to use leaner cuts of pork. The layer of fat and skin is essential to the unique taste of this dish and for the melt-in-your-mouth goodness. It tastes even better overnight, after the sauces meld together.
1½ lb/800 g pork belly (五花肉, twee bak)or pork shoulder, cut into ½ inches
10 shallots, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp fermented soya bean paste (豆酱 tau cheo)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sweet sauce
1 oz/30 g gula melaka (palm sugar) or 2 tbsp brown sugar
8 chinese dried mushrooms, reserve the liquid
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 cinnamon sticks
2 potatoes, quartered
1 cup bamboo shoots
Spring onions (for garnish)
Marinate in soy sauces and pepper.
Fry the shallots and garlic till slightly golden. Add fermented soya bean and fry till fragrant and slightly dry. Reduce heat.
Add soy sauces and sweet sauce. Fry quickly for a few seconds.
Add pork pieces. Stir fry on low-medium heat till pork is no longer pink or translucent. Add gula melaka, stirring till well blended.
Add mushrooms and fry till edges are slightly soft. Add chestnuts.
Add potatoes and fry till edges turn slightly translucent.
Add about 1 cup of water and continue to stir fry till the mixture thickens.
Add liquid from mushroom and extra water to cover. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat after 20 seconds. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
Garnish with spring onions. Serve with sambal belachan over steaming rice.