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Five-Spice Pork Ribs with Hard Boiled Eggs & Taufu Pok

Mom used to cook this so I’ve associated this dish with home in Malaysia. Naturally, when I first came to Australia for my studies and after the initial months of great Italian food, souvlakis, burgers with the lot, and even Chinatown food, I started to pine for this heart-warming all-in-one stew. My then Thai housemate must have shared the same sentiments too for there was this one day, we were both in the kitchen with our little soup pots on the stove (all of us in the sharehouse cooked separately) and I asked, “Oh, what have you got in there?” She lifted her pot lid and revealed hard-boiled eggs! With an amused look, I lifted mine and showed her my hard-boiled eggs! And then I said I was cooking five-spice pork and to that she replied excitely “Me too! me too!”. We then both whipped out our five-spice powder packets and learnt that we just spent probably a good 30 minutes on the phone with our moms, pleading for cooking instructions. How coincidental. 🙂
Anyway, with this dish, I believe it tastes better with pork belly but since it’s a week night, I’ll save the belly fat for a more special occasion. There are many types and brands of five-spice powder sold in asian grocery stores. I used to buy the Thai one (can’t remember the brand) but I believe my mother-in-law is right when she said this mixed-spice powder from Penang (ahem..Kedai Ubat Cina Pok Oy Thong – pictured below) is the best and it certainly has been the most fragrant out of all the ones I’ve purchased. I think it’s only available in Malaysia but whatever it is, any five-spive powder should be fine. Just briefly, the mixed-spice powder I used contains finely grinded spices of cinnamon, cardamon, aniseed, star anise, lime peel, cloves, coriander seeds, nutmeg, rice and pepper. Ok that’s more than 5 spices. Oh well!
1kg – Pork Ribs/Pork Belly – chopped to 3cm pieces
5 eggs – washed thoroughly.
4 cloves of garlic – bashed
4 star anise
1 packet (160g) Taufu pok – or bean curd puffs
2 tablespoons oil
Chopped coriander leaves and spring onion for garnishing
Wolfberries (Goji Berries)
for the meat marinate
2 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
for the sauce/gravy or ‘chap’
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon thick caramel sauce (or dark soy sauce)
1 1/2 teaspoons five spice powder
2 teaspoons sugar
6 cups water
Note: If using pork ribs, you need to do steps 1 and 2 first.
  1. Place pork ribs in a soup pot and scald the meat with enough boiling water to cover. Place the pot on the stove and bring it to boil for a few minutes until pork scum (the brownish bubbly dirt bits from the bones) have surfaced
  2. Discard this water and rinse the ribs with cold water. You may have to repeat rinsing until the water’s clear. Discard water and wash and dry the pot for later use.
  3. Place cleaned pork ribs in a bowl
  4. Mix all marinade ingredients and pour onto pork-ribs. Coat meat completely.
  5. Set aside marinated meat in fridge, anywhere from 2 to 3 hours.
  6. Heat oil in the pot used earlier. Add the bashed garlic cloves and stir-fry until browned and fragrant.
  7. Add the marinated meat and lower to medium flame
  8. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until sauce is thick and slightly caramelised.
  9. Pour in the water and add all sauce ingredients.
  10. Gently lower the eggs into the pot to avoid breaking the shells. Make sure they’re submerged in the sauce.
  11. Lower the flame to simmer for 30 minutes
  12. Remove the eggs and let cool before shelling.
  13. Add the shelled hard-boiled eggs back into the pot and continue simmering the stew for 1.5 to 2 hours until meat is tender.
  14. Add the wolfberries and let it soften (about 15 minutes)
  15. Add in taufu pok and bring to the boil for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  16. Garnish with coriander leaves and spring onion. Serve with steamed rice and other vegetable dishes
PS: I love biting into the taufupok. They’re like sponges that absorb the yummy sauce. I totally dig them in curry laksas too!

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