Ingredients Jump to Instructions ↓

  1. 1 tablespoon oil

  2. 6 cloves garlic, bruised

  3. 1 lb (500 g) pork belly, skin removed and discarded, cubed

  4. 1 lb (500 g) pork ribs or 10 oz (300 g) pork shoulder, sliced into pieces

  5. 3 star anise pods, roughly ground in a mortar

  6. teaspoon Sichuan pepper

  7. 2 tablespoons chilli black bean sauce

  8. 2 tablespoons Samal Oelek Chili Paste (you should be able to find it at any decent supermarket or Asian grocery store), or other sweet chilli paste

  9. 3 cups (730 ml) water

  10. 2 teaspoons shaved palm sugar or dark brown sugar

  11. 1/3 cup (100 ml) sweet Chinese black vinegar

  12. 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

  13. 8 dried black Chinese mushrooms, soaked in hot water until soft, drained and stir-fried in

  14. 2 teaspoons of oil for 2-3 minutes

  15. Salt, to taste

  16. Crispy Fried Garlic, to garnish

  17. Green onion curls (see note), to garnish

  18. 125 ml

  19. 2 tablespoons sugar

  20. 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced

  21. 2 tablespoons oil

  22. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions Jump to Ingredients ↑

  1. Prepare the Crispy Fried Garlic first by heating the oil in a skillet and sauteing the garlic over medium heat until golden and crispy, about 1 minute. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Alternatively, cover the garlic with 1 tablespoon of oil in a heatproof dish and microwave for another minute.

  2. Prepare the Sweet Cucumber Pickles by combining the vinegar and sugar in a bowl and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cucumber slices and mix well. Allow to marinate for 2 hours and drain the Pickles just before serving.

  3. Heat the oil in a wok and stir-fry the garlic over high heat until golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add both types of pork, the star anise and Sichuan pepper (if using) and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the chili black bean sauce, Sambal Oelek and black soy sauce and toss well to coat the port with the sauce.

  4. Pour in the water and bring the ingredients to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer covered until the port is very tender, about 20-30 minutes. Season with the sugar, vinegar and rice wine, and stir in the mushrooms. Half cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 1 hour, until the pork is tender and the sauce is thick but not completely dried up. Increase the heat to medium, season with salt to taste and stir-fry the pork to coat it evenly with the sauce. Remove from the heat.

  5. Transfer the pork to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the Crispy Fried Garlic. Garnish with green onion curls and serve immediately with steamed rice and the Sweet Cucumber Pickles on the side.

  6. TOP TIP To make green onion curls, trim off the bulb of each green onion at the point where the stem begins to turn green. Slice the leaves into 4-in (10-cm) lengths. Using a sharp knife, slice each length into very thin strips lengthwise. Soak the strips in a bowl of iced water and refrigerate until they curl up.

  7. Recipes and images from 'Heavenly Fragrance' by Carol Selva Rajah, published by Periplus Editions.

  8. See more Malaysian recipes at


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