Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CNY Cooking: Braised Pork Belly with Sea Cucumber

Sea cucumber symbolises happiness ("hoi sam"), making this an auspicious dish to serve during Chinese New Year. One of the ways we would serve hoi sum is with pork belly.

We usually get our sea cucumber from Eu Yan Sang, soaked and ready for cooking. We have been told that the country of origin is Mauritius, priced at RM120 per 700g. We usually split the sea cucumber into two, 350g is sufficient for 1 meal for 4 persons. You can cut it into chunks, but we like to cut ours into 1.5cm strips and cook it for 30 minutes, so that it retains its chewy texture. I've had friends tell me that sea cucumber is pretty tasteless, but cooked this way, it absorbs all the flavours from the braising.

Here's a simple recipe for braised pork belly with sea cucumber which you can prepare in 2 hours.

Braised pork belly with sea cucumber

Braised pork belly with sea cucumber
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours
Serves 4

800g pork belly, cut into 3cm width
1 garlic bulb, minced
2-3 shallots, minced
700ml of water (but you can add more depending on how much gravy you like)
1 1/2 tbsp of cooking oil
Soy sauce, to taste
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
350g sea cucumber, cut into 1.5cm strips

To garnish
Red chilli, cut into thin strips
Spring onion, cut into thin strips

1. Place the sliced pork belly into a container and marinate with 2 tbsp of soy sauce overnight. This is to infuse the flavours into the pork belly.

2. Heat the oil in a pot on medium heat and add the garlic and onion. Cook for 3-4 mins until the onion has softened.

3. Add the pork belly and brown it slightly. Then, add water to cover the pork belly, dark soy sauce and about 2 tbsp of soy sauce. Braise for 1 1/2 hours on low heat .

4. Add in the sea cucumber and cook for a further 30 minutes. The pork belly's fat layers should be wobbly by now, but the sea cucumber should still have a chewy texture. Add more soy sauce if required (according to how salty you would like it).

5. Remove from heat. Skim off excess oil. Garnish and serve immediately with boiled rice.You can also serve with this "sau meen" (longevity noodles), the gravy goes very well with the noodles.

Have an auspicious CNY

For more photos, click here to view.

For a similar dish, check out the recipe for Braised Pork Belly with Soy Sauce and Boiled Egg (also known as "loh chu yuk" or "tau yew bak"). 


  1. I love braised pork but not sea cucumber bur I love your photos tho. hehe... Happy CNY to you and your family. Hugs.

    1. Thanks! We only eat sea cucumber during CNY as it's auspicious :P

      Happy CNY! xoxo

  2. i didn't know sea cucumber signifies happiness. haha but thinking about it, it makes sense.

    not a huge fan of sea cucumbers but i don't mind it either. i actually prefer fish maw!

    1. I like fish maw too. I have a recipe for that coming up soon :)

  3. This is one of my favourite things to eat. My grandma would add pork knuckles too. Uber yum! :)

    1. Yeah my grandma also cooks hers with pork knuckle and pig's trotters. :P

  4. Braised pork belly with sea cucumber sounds so exotic. Clearly I'm still a foreigner even after so many years in KL!

    1. Hehe I think this is an acquired taste, along with many other Chinese dishes. It needs to be cooked correctly to taste good.

  5. I don't know how to eat pork belly but this looks delicious!


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