Lu Rou Fan
Lu Rou Fan is like the Sunday Sauce of Taiwan—a rich and aromatic five-spice pork ragú whipped up from simple and inexpensive ingredients. It easily feeds (and pleases) a crowd and can be frozen for busy weeknights. Lu (滷) is the name of the braising liquid - a combination of funky fermented soy flavors and five-spice.
The transformation of a bit of pork, some aromatics, a little sugar, and fermented soy into a deeply-colored, unctuous, umami-rich sauce is like spinning straw into gold.
There are many recipes online, all a bit different. Variables can include the type of pork used (pork belly, butt, a mix of the two, or ground pork), how the pork is cooked (meltingly tender or 'QQ' chewy), the darkness and sweetness of the sauce, and the seasonings used (any combination of shallots, garlic, dried shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, and etc).
I like my lu rou sauce fairly fatty (it coats each grain of rice with flavor without becoming soggy), with chewy minced pork (QQ texture), and just a touch of sweetness. To get the pork really bouncy and chewy, be sure to cook all the water out of the mince and let it brown a bit before adding any other ingredients.
Lu Rou Fan is customarily served spooned over short grain sticky white rice with a soyed egg, some blanched vegetables, and Chinese pickles. It's traditional to throw hardboiled eggs into the pork braise to give them the same flavor, but some prefer an egg with a more custardy yolk. I prepared my own Chinese Soy eggs by marinating eggs with just set yolks in a soy-based broth overnight rather than simmering them in the sauce.
- 1-1/2 lbs of Pork Belly, cut into 1/4" cubes - (important: pork butt from Chinese supermarkets tend to have enough fat on them, but if you buy one from a Western grocery store where the fat is trimmed away, add some minced pork belly or lard)
- 2 tbsp Dried Shrimp - (if you use small papery dried shrimp, you can dump these in. if you use larger dried shrimps, soak in water and dice)
- 3 shiitake mushrooms diced
- 1 tsp Five Spice Powder (or use the whole spices, but I find it tastes the same with the powder) (grind from fresh_
- a handful of Rock Sugar (measure grams)
- a few Star Anise pods, 3-4 pieces sand ginger, 2 slivers licorice root
- 3/4 cup Fried Shallots (homemade by frying 6 thinly sliced shallots in 350˚ oil in batches until golden, but you can also purchase them ready made)
- 1 c first extract soy sauce
- 1/4 c soy paste
- 1/4 cup Shaoxing Rice Wine (reserve half the wine for finishing the dish)
- a few tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 Hardboiled Eggs (I used soy eggs prepared separately or you can simmer hardboiled eggs in the sauce and infuse them with color and flavor)
- Cut the pork into 1/4" cubes and set aside. Fry the shallots if making them yourself.
- Heat the oil in the wok, and add all the minced pork at once. Stir occasionally and fry until the water evaporates from the meat and it browns a bit.
- Throw in your dried shrimps and/or mushrooms, rock sugar, and anise pods, and stir fry for 30 seconds. Then add the rest of the ingredients except for 1/4 c of the rice wine and stir to incorporate.
- Add the hardboiled eggs if you want to simmer them in the sauce (turn them a few times to get an even cot). Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes. Uncover, add the remaining 1/4 cup of wine and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Serve over white or purple rice with lightly blanched vegetables, soy egg, and pickled mustard greens.
Favorite spots to eat Lu Rou Fan
Everywhere, but Jing Feng Lu Rou Fan in Taipei is especially famous.
I also had some great Lu Rou at the Cisheng Temple courtyard in Dadaocheng
*Got a recommendation? Email me.