Rou-zao-fan

If you have followed this blog closely, you would perhaps notice that I love using ground meat as a topping for rice.  In the past, I have made Japanese variations like niku miso and buta soboro gohan.  This time, I present you a lazy version of rou-zao-fan (肉燥飯), a common Taiwanese dish that tastes distinctively different from these previous recipes.

Ingredients and Procedure
(Serves 2)

  • 300g ground pork
  • 4 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
  • 70mL light soy sauce
  • 10mL dark soy sauce
  • 100g Chinese rock sugar (bing-tang)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 anise stars
  • 1 dash of ground white pepper
  • 60mL water
  • green onion or coriander, chopped (optional)

In this recipe, we are using Chinese soy sauces: light soy sauce for flavour and dark soy sauce for colour.  I accidentally added too much dark soy sauce in mine; the ideal product should be a nice and golden “milk chocolate” brown instead of a “dark chocolate” brown.

Normally, the recipe also calls for deep-fried shallots that are available at Chinese specialty stores.  However, because my local supermarkets do not stock this product, I am using just regular shallots.

We will begin by stir-frying the minced garlic and shallots in a frying pan over medium high heat.  When the garlic and shallots are fragrant and golden, add the minced pork and stir vigorously.  Like other minced meat recipes, we want to break the pork into finer pieces.  Continue cooking until pork has turned colour.

Next, transfer everything in the pan to a pot and remove excess oil.  Add soy sauces, rock sugar, cinnamon, anise, white pepper, and water.  Bring pot to boil, and let shimmer over low heat for 30 minutes.  If you find the sauce too salty, add rock sugar; if you find it not salty enough, add salt.  Add hard-boiled eggs and shimmer for 20 more minutes.

Serve over rice or noodles and garnish with chopped green onions or coriander if you wish.

Afterthoughts

A simple, flexible, and flavourful dish: my favourite kind of recipe!  Personally, I like the marinated eggs just as much as the pork itself: they are sort of like a sponge that soaks up the rich sauce.  If you want to, you can also add fried tofu too.

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2 comments

  1. skimmer8

    I’ll be lucky if you read this, and answer my questions, it’s long after your original post. (Serves me right for trolling food blogs in the middle of the night, asking cooking questions — rather than reading something really boring, to fall asleep.) :P

    I understand your fondness for ground meat. It is very flexible because the meat pieces are so small the dish is more dominated by the flavoring.

    I would like to try this dish, but I’m not sure I can find chinese rock sugar. What flavor difference will that make?

    Also, I have noticed you (and other recipes I have read) call for light and dark soy sauce. Is that to keep the color of the food lighter… or does this make a noticable difference in flavoring?

    Thanks

    Jennifer

  2. Jennifer: Hahahaha… Well, like you, I also reserve the fun reading for late hours. In my case, that’s because I use up my daytime on the boring ones (a.k.a. work).

    Hmm. Good question. I think that Chinese rock sugar has a taste that is closer to sugar made from sugar cane? If you can find sugar cane products, that could be a reasonable substitution. You may also use brown or yellow sugar and adjust the amount accordingly.

    Regarding light vs. dark soy, they are indeed two different types of sauces in Chinese cuisine. Dark soy has a richer taste and is used mostly for colouring (giving food a more appealing brown colour). You can find a longer description of the differences in the Chinese section of this Wiki article. If you don’t have dark soy and are only using the light variety, you may want to increase the amount of sugar or reduce the overall amount of soy.

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