Pork is braised in aromatics and soy sauce until it is tender. The recipe can be made with a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or on the stove.
Tau yu bak is probably one of the most popular homecooked dishes in Southeast Asia. I know for sure it’s my all-time favorite. I remembered it so vividly because it’s one of my favorites and mom likes to make it because it’s easy and she can make in a big batch and feed us for two days at least 🙂
Tau yu means soy sauce and bak means meat, usually refer to pork in Hokkien language, the language I speak at home as a kid and now with my family. We call it Lo Bak as well in Medan. Lo means braising.
HOW TAU YU BAK IS MADE
The pork is usually braised slowly in soy sauce and other aromatics and spices, which makes it incredibly flavorful. It’s very similar to how I make this Chinese Braised Pork Belly (Kong Bak). With tau yu bak, the pork is usually cut into bite-size pieces. Hard-boiled eggs are usually added. My mom likes to make it with potatoes too.
WHICH CUT OF PORK TO USE
For juicy and tender results, I highly recommend a mixture of pork belly and pork butt. I would steer clear from pork loin as it is too lean. Sometimes my mom will make it using just pork butt too, but the addition of pork belly sure adds an extra flavor.
MY FAVORITE WAY OF COOKING TAU YU BAK
Before I own Instant Pot, I would cook it mostly with a slow cooker or on the stove. Enter Instant Pot electric pressure cooker and I have put my slow cooker to retirement! Using a pressure cooker is definitely my favorite way to cook tau yu bak. The pork is tender and juicy and I can pretty much set and forget. It’s a bit faster compare to cooking on the stove and much more convenient too. So if you have been thinking about getting an Instant Pot, I will tell you that it worths the investment. I can’t live without it anymore (and I’m not paid to say this either LOL!)
HOW TO MAKE TAU YU BAK WITH PRESSURE COOKER
1. Press saute on Instant Pot and when it’s hot, add chopped shallots, garlic, and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes
2. Add the pork followed by seasonings and the rest of the aromatics. Stir to mix everything.
3. Pour in the liquid from soaking the mushrooms and top up with water if necessary, just enough to barely cover the pork. Add hard-boiled eggs if using (I didn’t this round). Turn off saute mode
4. Close the lid. Press “pressure cooker” and make sure it’s on “high pressure”. Set the timer to 30 minutes. Turn the steam release valve to “sealing”
5. When the time is up, release pressure immediately, add chunks of potatoes. Turn the saute mode back on and let the potatoes cooked until soft, but not mushy. Adjust seasonings to your taste
Use different meat: You can use boneless skinless chicken meat like thighs cut into bite-size (I won’t recommend using breast) and pressure cook on high for 6 minutes or use bone-in skin-on drumsticks and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes, and about 15 minutes for bone-in skin-on chicken thighs.
Add peanuts: I’ve added unsalted roasted peanuts (no skin) and they are incredible. The peanuts absorb all the wonderful flavor of the seasonings
Add white radish: Cut the radish into large chunks and the white radish will turn brownish and absorbs all the incredible flavor too
My kids would ask “What’s that wonderful smell mom?” They get really excited whenever they see tau yu bak is being served for dinner 😉
DID YOU MAKE THIS TAU YU BAK RECIPE?
I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real!
For baking/ kueh making: I highly encourage to weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.GRAMS TO CUPS CONVERSION (UNSIFTED)
- 500 gr pork butt
- 300 gr pork belly
- 5 large dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil
- 4 hard-boiled eggs - optional
- 400 gr potatoes - peeled and quartered
- 4 shallots - peeled, finely chopped
- 1 bulb garlic - peeled, finely chopped
- 2 cm fresh ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- Fresh cilantro leaves
Parboil the pork:
- Cut the pork into bite-size. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then boil the pork for about 5 minutes and then discard the water and rinse the pork with clean water
Prepare the aromatics and mushrooms:
- Place shallots, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and finely chopped them. Set aside. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 15 minutes or until they are softened. Keep the liquid
If using Instant Pot pressure cooker:
- Mix all ingredients for seasonings and set aside. Press saute and when it says "hot", add cooking oil. Add the chopped shallots, garlic, and ginger in there and saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes
- Add the pork followed by seasonings. Stir to mix everything. Pour in the liquid from soaking the mushrooms and top up with water if necessary, just enough to barely cover the pork. Add hard-boiled eggs. Turn off saute mode
- Close the lid. Press "pressure cooker" and make sure it's on "high pressure". Set the timer to 30 minutes. Turn the steam release valve to "sealing". It will take about 10 minutes or maybe less to pressurize
- When the time is up, release pressure immediately, add chunks of potatoes. Turn the saute mode back on and let the potatoes cooked until soft, but not mushy. Adjust seasonings to your taste
If cooking on the stove:
- Preheat a dutch oven. Add cooking oil. Add the chopped shallots, garlic, and ginger in there and saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes
- Add the pork followed by seasonings. Stir to mix everything. Pour in the liquid from soaking the mushrooms and top up with water if necessary, just enough to barely cover the pork. Add hard-boiled eggs. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to let it gently simmer for the next 1 hour or until the pork is fork-tender. 15 minutes before the end of cooking time, add the potatoes and cook until soft but not mushy. Adjust seasonings to your taste
If cooking with a slow cooker:
- Preheat a dutch oven. Add cooking oil. Add the chopped shallots, garlic, and ginger in there and saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes. You can skip this step if you want to without stir-frying the spices, but I feel like it adds extra flavor to the overall dish
- Transfer to a slow cooker. Add the pork, seasonings, and the rest of the aromatics. Pour the liquid from soaking mushrooms and top up with some water if needed to barely cover the pork. Cook on low for 4 hours or until the pork is really tender. Adjust seasonings to your taste. The end result should be savory with hint of sweetness
- Portion tau yu bak to a serving bowl and garnish with some chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with rice