Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉)

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉)

Hakka Braised Pork with black fungus is flavourful and delicious for its umami flavours due to the fermented red tofu. For less fats, cook this with pork ribs instead of pork belly.

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Preparation 30 mins
Cooking 60 mins



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Nutrition per Serving

563 kcal
17 g
42 g
32 g

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Hakka braised pork is a typical dish you get at grandma's dinner table. The delicious gravy is a result of braising Hakka Char Yoke (fried pork which has been first coated in a fermented red tofu batter) in a stew. Many sing praises for the tender and juicy meat. Wood ear mushrooms are added to the stew for the extra crunch in every bite.

Guaranteed yummy Hakka braised pork
Guaranteed yummy Hakka braised pork

Fermented red tofu is also added to the batter. The flour which was added to the batter contributes to thickening of the gravy while giving it a subtle flavour. That makes the dish so special. I cannot help but to flood my plate of rice with the gravy. Every mouthful will make you crave for more.

Why This Recipe?

Fermented red tofu may taste very intense in a dish. If too much is added, it can taste offensive to some. That is why it is important to get the amount right. It can taste bitter as it burns quickly. Additional spices like star anise and cinnamon stick are added during the cooking process. Trust me, they bring the dish to a whole new level.

Fried pork before braising
Fried pork before braising

Most importantly, step 1 shares a kitchen tip using baking soda to get rid of the pork odor and impurities. Do not omit this step if you are sensitive to boar taint. Doing this will also tenderize the meat.

Using baking soda to remove impurities
Using baking soda to remove impurities

Pork Belly, Pork Ribs or Chicken?

The Hakka community is known for their love for pork. Pork belly is often selected to be used in this braised dish. As the meat is first fried before braising, the dish do end up pretty oily.

For those who enjoy a less greasy version, this recipe works perfectly well using pork ribs. It is less fatty but yet full of flavour.

Look at the juicy braised pork ribs
Look at the juicy braised pork ribs

Moreover, pork ribs add a richer flavour to create an infused broth taste. Not forgetting, bones contain lots of vitamins and nutrients too. This is a win-win situation.

Besides pork, chicken is another option you can choose.

Fermented Red Tofu and Substitute

There is no substitute for fermented red tofu (Nam Yu/ 南乳) a common ingredient in Hakka dishes. They are tofu chunks fermented in red yeast rice produced by fermentation of a yeast on rice. You can find it at Asian grocers, often sold in the canned food/pickle section.

The flavour is rather intense in savouriness with a distinct aroma which cannot be replaced by other fermented food like miso.

What Is Wood Ear Mushroom?

Wood ear mushrooms are thin crinkly fungi which are commonly used in Chinese cooking. They are sold in dried form. Therefore, they need to be hydrated first by soaking them in water. After that, cut off the hard section, if any, as that part of the mushroom is not edible.

Discard this hard section
Discard this hard section

Why Is My Braised Pork Tough?

This happens when the pork is cooked at high heat or for a short period. It is best to braise it by simmering for a longer time. Normally, I increased the heat to bring the content to boil and then reduce the heat to the minimum and leave it to simmer. By doing so, the meat will be tender once the dish is done.

Of course, the baking soda that was added in Step 1 helps to tenderize the meat.

Important Tips Before Making Hakka Braised Pork

If the heat is too high during the frying process, the batter might burn quickly resulting in a bitter after taste in the dish. Ensure the heat is about 160 degrees Celsius or test with a droplet of batter. If the batter fizzles and floats immediately, the oil is heated enough for frying.

Bubbles around wooden chopsticks
Bubbles around wooden chopsticks

The fried batter should be fully cooked before braising or it will disintegrate during the cooking process. That would be a mess although it is still edible.

The other tip is for those who dislike the intense flavours of fermented red tofu. In Step 7, omit fermented red tofu and its brine. That way, the gravy will be much more subtle. Anyway, I had prepared the dish this way for those who swear that they dislike the ingredient. Guess what? They loved the dish!

Is Shaoxing Wine Optional?

Yes, you can skip this and opt for sesame oil instead for its fragrance. Substitute with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in the batter (Step 2) and the gravy (Step 9). However, remember not to add too much or else it will overpower the fermented bean curd flavour.

Can I Freeze This Dish?

Hakka braised pork tastes even better overnight. You may also freeze the dish. I like to prepare a big portion and freeze it for later consumption. To reheat, simply steam the dish and serve with rice if you are craving for something wholesome.


400 g
pork ribs
1 tsp
baking soda
1 tsp
1⁄8 cup
red tofu (fermented)
4 tsp
red fermented bean curd brine
garlic clove(s)
2 cm
1⁄8 tsp
five spice powder
0.4 tsp
white pepper
1⁄2 tsp
2 tbsp
shaoxing wine
1 1⁄2 tbsp
corn starch
1 1⁄2 tbsp
all-purpose flour
oil for deep-frying
1 tbsp
1 tsp
oyster sauce
13 g
black fungus/mu-er mushroom(s)
400 ml
star anise
cinnamon stick(s)
salt Optional

Steps to Prepare

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉) Step 1

Step 1 of 10

    • 400 g pork ribs
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1⁄8 cup water

Rub pork ribs with baking soda, salt and some water thoroughly. Then, rinse until the water is almost clear. Set aside.

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉) Step 2

Step 2 of 10

    • 1 red tofu (fermented)
    • 2 tsp red fermented bean curd brine
    • 2 garlic clove(s)
    • 1 cm ginger
    • 1⁄8 tsp five spice powder
    • 0.15 tsp white pepper
    • 1⁄2 tsp sugar
    • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine

In a separate bowl, add red fermented bean curd with its brine, minced garlic, ginger, five-spice powder, white pepper and sugar. Mash the bean curd and ensure all ingredients are evenly combined. Then, add Shaoxing wine.

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉) Step 3

Step 3 of 10

    • 1 egg(s)

Add pork ribs to the marinade. Add an egg. Mix till the pork ribs are coated evenly with the batter.

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉) Step 4

Step 4 of 10

    • 1 1⁄2 tbsp corn starch
    • 1 1⁄2 tbsp all-purpose flour

Add cornstarch and all-purpose flour. Mix evenly. Cover and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉) Step 5

Step 5 of 10

    • oil for deep-frying

In a pot, heat oil over medium heat. When oil is ready, gently drop the marinated ribs one at a time and fry till golden brown. It should take 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the size. Drain excess oil and set aside.

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉) Step 6

Step 6 of 10

    • 1 tbsp oil
    • 1 cm ginger
    • 3 garlic clove(s)

Heat oil in a clean pot over medium heat. Sauté sliced ginger and minced garlic. Stir fry till fragrant for about 30 seconds.

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉) Step 7

Step 7 of 10

    • 1 red tofu (fermented)
    • 2 tsp red fermented bean curd brine
    • 1 tsp oyster sauce

Reduce heat to low. Add the fermented beancurd, its brine and oyster sauce. Sautè for another 30 seconds. Mash the beancurd.

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉) Step 8

Step 8 of 10

    • 13 g black fungus/mu-er mushroom(s)

Add deep-fried pork ribs and softened black fungus. Mix till the sauce coats the pork evenly.

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉) Step 9

Step 9 of 10

    • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
    • 400 ml water
    • 2 star anise
    • 1 cinnamon stick(s)
    • 1⁄4 tsp white pepper
    • salt Optional

Increase heat to medium and add Shaoxing wine to the sides of the pot followed by water. Mix evenly. Add in star anise, cinnamon stick and white pepper. Add salt to taste.

Hakka Braised Pork (客家木耳炸肉) Step 10

Step 10 of 10

Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Let it braise by simmering for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. The gravy thickens a little when ready. Garnish with some coriander and the dish is ready to be served.

Published: January 12, 2023

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