Lor bak recipe

I grew up eating lor bak. My mum would make these succulent soya-sauce pork in a thick black sauce and I loved eating it as a child with plain white rice. I’ve tried to replicate it using various recipes and it took me many many attempts before I think I finally nailed the recipe. I don’t have a very good photo of lor bak as they don’t photograph very well but you’d have to trust me that it’s yummylicious. I cannot remember, for the life of me, where I found this recipe but it works!


  • 500gm pork belly
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 thumb-size piece blue ginger (galangal)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, bruised with skin on
  • 2 tbsp light soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of hot water

Additional ingredients

  • Tau pok
  • Tau kee
  • Hard-boiled eggs (remove shells!)
  • Dried mushrooms (soak it first to soften)

To prepare the pork belly

  1. Marinate pork belly with 1 tsp each of light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, oyster sauce, sugar. Let stand at room temperature for at least half hour.
  2. Add vegetable oil into frying pan, sear pork belly on all sides. Ensure that all sides are brown before removing from pan. Slice into pieces.
  3. Set aside

To make the all-important sauce

  1. Use a large enough pot (I use my Le Creuset pot) to contain all the above ingredients.
  2. Add all the sauces (light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, oyster sauce, honey, sugar, pepper) into 2 cups of hot water. Stir and mix well.
  3. Add spices (star anise, cinnamon stick, ginger, garlic) into pot. Pour sauces (step #2) into pot. You can add a tiny bit of five-spice powder as well (if you have some). Not too much or it will overpower the whole dish!
  4. Turn fire to high, allow liquid to boil before adding in pork belly and dried mushrooms.
  5. Simmer on low low fire for at least 2 hours.

My personal cooking notes

  • Never add water first. If the sauce is too thick, add water at the end. Always add a little water first, bit by bit. Otherwise, the sauce becomes diluted.
  • I use brown sugar instead of white sugar.
  • I usually cannot find galangal so I use normal ginger from the supermarket. I’ve also cooked this dish without ginger and it turned out fine.
  • I noticed that the flavour is a lot better after you keep the dish overnight so if you plan ahead, best to cook it one day before eating it. The flavours go right through! Otherwise, it may be a little sweet. If you don’t like it too sweet, add less honey.
  • It is important NOT to overcook the ‘additional ingredients’. All of them are already cooked so I only add them in after the dish is ready (i.e. after I turn off the fire). If you cook these items together with the pork belly and mushrooms, you will end up with bullet-hard eggs and broken tau pok and tau kee. I speak through experience 🙂
  • I don’t like to eat the fatty meat on the pork belly but it makes a lot of difference. What I usually do is to add in a bit of lean meat as well.
  • Do not place a lid on the pot. This is to allow evaporation to take place. If you must, ensure that there is an escape vent, i.e. leaving the pot cover slightly open.
  • This dish keeps very well in the freezer so best to make a HUGE pot and pack them into smaller ziplock bags for the freezer. Perfect for lazy lunches! Best eaten with steaming hot porridge, steamed rice or even kong ba bao style.

Let me know if you try out the recipe!


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