Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sek Bak (Nyonya Braised Pork Belly)

Gong Xi Fa Cai!  I'm back from my Chinese New Year break. Thank you for your CNY greetings! Hope that everyone had a good and wonderful re-union with family and friends during this festive celebration. 

Today, I'm sharing one of the dishes that my beloved late mom used to cook during Chinese New Year. Though I sometimes cook it at home anytime we feel like eating it, this Nyonya dish is usually "reserved" during Chinese New Year and special occasions during family get-together. 

Big pieces of pork belly are braised with spices, seasoned with black and light soy sauce and a small amount of sugar. We love to add peeled hard-boiled eggs, which are braised along with the pork belly, until the egg has turned brown all over from the long braising in the simmering sauce. 

One of the ingredients that is for this fragrant dish is, galangal. Peel the galangal and mash it lightly using a mortar and pestle. Do not replace this with ginger, the taste is not the same!

Sliced shallots and the lightly bruised galangal. 

The spices that gives a wonderful aroma to the dish ; cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise. 

Pieces of pork belly and hard-boiled eggs braising in the fragrant sauce. At the end of cooking time, slow-braising for about 1-1/2 hours, the pork belly will be tender and the sauce would have reduced and thickened.

Just before serving, slice the pork belly to thin slices and serve with the hard boiled eggs, with some of the delicious fragrant sauce poured over. The kids love to have the extra gravy over white rice. We would sometimes serve this dish with sliced fresh cucumbers and homemade chilli sauce, though most of the time we ate this without any chilli sauce. Either way, this dish is delicious!

Sek Bak
(by kitchen flavours)
2-3 pieces pork belly (about 1-1/2 kg)
4-6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
2 cinnamon stick (about 3" long)
5 star anise
10 cloves
8 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 piece galangal, about the size of a small tomato
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 cups water
2-3 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/4 cup light soy sauce (to taste)
1 tablespoon sugar (to taste)

  1. Heat cooking oil in a wok or a large saucepan. Fry the shallots over medium heat till light brown. Turn down heat to low, add in the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and galangal. Stir for a about a minute till the spices are fragrant, taking care not to burn them. Add in water, bring to a boil.
  2. When the sauce has come to a boil, add in the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and sugar. Stir and add in the pork belly pieces. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let it simmer, turning the pork belly every 20 minutes or so. After the first 30-40 minutes, add in the peeled hard-boiled eggs. Turn the eggs every now and then, taking care not break them. Add some warm water if the gravy appears dry. Taste and adjust accordingly, you may need a little more soy sauce or sugar. 
  3. Simmer till the pork belly is tender and the gravy has reduced and thickened, about 1-1/2 hours.
  4. Let pork belly cool to room temperature, slice to thin pieces and pour some of the lovely thickened sauce over the sliced pork belly, with the eggs at the side. Sliced fresh cucumbers and some chili sauce is lovely with this dish. Delicious over white rice. (The whole spices and galangal pieces are not meant to be eaten). 

I'm linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: CNY 2015 organised by Yen of Eat Your Heart Out, Diana of Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids.


  1. Welcome back, I hope you had a great time! I recently had a pork belly dish at a restaurant and it was wonderful. I had never eaten pork belly before. This dish looks wonderful.

  2. Hi Joyce,

    Gong Xi Fa Cai!!! Welcome back!

    Remember we have discussed the difference between lor chicken and sek chicken? I think it was last year or the year before. Love this traditional dish and your sek bak look wonderful.


  3. pork belly, this looks amazing and welcome back my friend with such a wonderful dish I have got to try this

  4. Aha looks so yummy, I think I will subtitute the pork with beef or chicken. I think they would the same taste.

  5. Joyce, this pork belly dish looks Quite unique is the use of lengkuas. I am familiar with the other ingredients in this sort of braised pork belly dish. I must try it!

  6. Your braised pork belly looks marvelous. I love galangal!

  7. Hope you had a nice holiday! This dish looks yummy! :)

  8. Oh wowzzz, that looks awesome...I will attempt to make this soon :) I am a buig time porky fan haha