Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Babi Pongteh (Braised Pork in Fermented Salted Beans)

This is the signature dish of the Nyonya communities. Every Nyonya household should know about this truly authentic distinctive one of a special kind of dish that is enjoyed by the young and old alike. You can find this dish in the menu of the every Nyonya restaurant. Babi Pongteh (as we Nyonya call it), Braised Pork in Fermented Salted Beans is cooked using very simple ingredients, onions, garlic, fermented salted bean paste and if you search the web for this recipe or even from some recipe books, each one has their own version of cooking this dish. It should be slightly sweet and a hint of saltiness form the fermented salted beans with the aroma from the blended ingredients. When this dish is being cooked in the kitchen, even the the neighbour will know about it! This dish can be cooked using chicken instead of pork. Babi Pongteh is prepared on special occasions like Chinese New Year, birthdays, Cheng Beng (where lots of dishes are prepared as offerings to our belated loved ones) and gatherings. Nowadays this dish is enjoyed anytime of the year. I usually cook this with lots of potatoes. Whenever a bowl of babi pongteh is served at the table, the first scoop that everyone dig into will be the potatoes. Not surprising though, the taste of the potatoes after being braised in the gravy is indeed delicious! The Nyonya eat this dish with some pounded chilli garam (Chilli and salt), although this traditional way of eating is slowly diminishing among the new generations of Nyonya. My family still follow this traditional way of consuming this dish. We love anything spicy ! It even tastes better the next day. The gravy would have thicken and the flavours will be more tasty. Simply add a little bit of water and reheat. My children loves to have this with bread or mantao (plain white pau). Try out this recipe. Top the gravy, don't forget the potato and a piece of meat over some hot fluffy white rice, and enjoy this truly special dish "Babi Pongteh".


1kg pork belly (cut to bite-sized pcs)
300gm small onions
120gm garlic
3 tbsp tao cheow (fermented salted beans)
1 tbsp gula melaka (palm sugar)
1 tbsp black soy sauce
15 dried shittake mushroom (soaked for a few hours till soft and remove stems)
8 potatoes (halved or quartered)
3 cups water
1/4 cup oil

  1. Pound or blend onions and garlic. Add in fermented salted beans paste and mix well.
  2. Heat oil. Fry pounded ingredients till fragrant over low heat.
  3. Add in pork belly and stir for a few minutes until meat turns white. Add in water, black soy sauce, gula melaka, mushroom, cover and let it boil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. (Test for taste. You may add sugar or light soy sauce at this point).
  4. Turn heat to low and braise for about 40 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  5. Add potatoes and simmer till potatoes are soft.
  6. Serve with hot white rice. Enjoy!


  1. wow, sedapnya! can almost taste the pork melting in the mouth!

  2. I love babi ponteh and my mum used to make it quite often. The long stewing makes the pork really melt in the mouth.

  3. Wah!!! babi pongteh...i when i first saw the picture i thought it was curry pork...HAHA

  4. What's Baking / Jo
    Yup, the pork really melts in the mouth. Yummy with some chili garam.

    It must be interesting to find mushroom in curry pork! He! He!

  5. Hi,
    I'm a Nyonya cuisine fan but never tried babi pongteh before. Looks very tasty ... I will definitely try it later...

  6. Hi AloyCia E.Joan,
    Nice of you to stop by and following my blog. Yes, Nyonya food are really the best! Try this babi pongteh. I cooked this at least twice a month, sometimes with chicken. My children really love this. Sometimes I will cook with extra gravy so they can enjoy with some plain pau. Hope you enjoy trying it out, let me know if you do.

  7. I love cooking and eating Chicken/Babi Pongteh. My grandma is a Nyonya and my mom has been cooking this dish for us. Now I continue to cook it. As you said, the dish tastes better the following day.

  8. I am going to try this dish out tomorrow ..It looks yum from your pictures :)

  9. I will usually take the mushrooms first as all the gravy has been absorbed in the mushroom. Like it when it oozes out when bite. By the way how to prepare cili garam?