Five Spice Chinese Pork Stew

No, this isn’t adobo.

It’s Chinese pork stew. And it’s slightly different from adobo in that it’s not cooked with soy sauce and vinegar per se. The stew has soy sauce but it has stock/water as well (it’s a stew afterall). The ratio of the stock to soy sauce is around 2:1.

I was compelled, after eating canned chinese pork stew time and time again, to replicate the recipe and make it less…oily. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating the stuff. I like how the stew has just the right amount of saltiness in it and the pork is extremely tender. But the last time I ate it, I was left scarred, bloated and extremely unhappy with myself. The Narcissus brand in particular was extremely oily, and I was unlucky enough to taste it. It was so fatty and oily that I could not taste the stew because there was so much visible oil. The meat was completely immersed in oil but because I was hungry and I needed to satiate my cravings, well, I yielded to sin. The Gulong brand is better, albeit still fatty, but more stew-y.

This is actually my second attempt to make this. I was inspired to make it again because I wanted to remind myself of the smell of Hong Kong hole-in-the-wall eateries – which oozed with the aroma of Five Spice powder. It has a strong cinnamon-y attribute to it, but when you add it to food in gentle amounts, a little goes a long way. This stew is amazing, hearty and lightyears away from the canned kind.

And this is embarrassing but what the hell….if somebody can tell me what paikut is in English (and no, it isn’t spareribs), please enlighten me. The cut is a vertical strip of pork with fat on top and a great marbling of the meat. The bone runs along one side of the meat.

Five Spice Chinese Pork Stew (serves 6 – 8 )

1 & 1/2 kilo pork paikut, sliced into cubes – sorry I don’t know what the cut is called in English

for boiling the pork

  • water enough to cover the pork by 1/2 inch more
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cracked pepper
  • 1 tbsp iodized salt
  • 3-5 bay leaves
  • 2-4 celery stalks

For the stew

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium-sized shallots/sibuyas na pula, sliced
  • 1 large white onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 3 cups pork stock (the water used for boiling the pork)
  • 1 ginger, two inches in length, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/2 tbsp anise seed
  • 1 /2 tbsp cracked pepper
  • 1 198gram can whole mushrooms, sliced in half (it’s chunkier that way)
  1. In a large pot, add the pork with the rest of the ingredients for boiling. Add water, enough the cover by pork by 1/2 inch.
  2. Boil on medium heat until the pork is fork tender. Once done, remove the pork from the pot.
  3. Reserve the stock and run it through a fine sieve to strain the impurities.
  4. In a wok or large pan, heat the oil and add the garlic. Allow to toast but be careful not to burn it.
  5. Add the shallots and the white onion and saute until it sweats and goes slightly limp. Add the ginger and fry until very fragrant. Remove around 1/4 of the onion and ginger and reserve for garnish.
  6. Add the pork and mix everything well until the pork is lightly toasted, around 2-3 minutes. Add the pork stock, followed the the soy sauce.
  7. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover the pot and allow the stew to reduce for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another minute. Remove from pan and serve hot, garnished with the sauteed onions and ginger, and with a heaping scoop of rice. Enjoy!

And this is the part where my cousin grabbed his plate of rice because he was hungry and it’s time to eat. He really didn’t appreciate me using his rice as a prop.

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10 thoughts on “Five Spice Chinese Pork Stew

  1. Paikut, or baikut in Indonesia, is a word of Hakka origin, I believe. It refers to pork belly with ribs attached (called iga babi in Indonesian). Pork belly without bones in the Hakka-influenced vocabulary of Indonesian Chinese restaurants, is called samcam (pronounced sahm-chahm). The pig carcass is broken down in different ways in different cultures/butchery traditions.

  2. Pingback: Five Spice Chinese Pork Stew | Food Frenzy

  3. I think pai gwut is pork belly, but it’s just a section that also has bones in it.

    I have bought pork belly before with bones included.

    If you want less fat, you can always use pork shoulder for your braise or a combination of pork belly and pork shoulder. Shoulder is often very cheap here and if you cook it long and slow, very tender.

    I’m glad you made this instead of opening a can. I’ve never seen Chinese style pork stew in a can before. Interesting concept! Is it possible to open the tin and scrape out the layer of fat before cooking?

    • thanks! don’t worry…my next project is to come up with a list of pork cuts and its tagalog translation. haha. ooh canned chinese stewed pork is pretty common in philippine barters, and some groceries. i actually saw some being sold at a 7eleven in hong kong.

      yeah, i think it’s possible that you can remove it, though aside from the layer of solidified fat, i noticed that the actual meat is swimming in another layer of liquid oil so it’s pretty gross. It really depends on the brand. Like i said, i’d stay away from the Narcissus variety (that’s the one I saw in Hong Kong). :)

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