Sunday, January 8, 2012

Braised Belly Pork w/ Arrowhead

Arrowhead or arrowroot was one of the few local produce presented in Martha Dahlen’s book that I had yet to cook, as mentioned in my post of Dec.11,2011.

Arrowroot is now in season and I bought one catty (~600gr) for HK$10 at the wet market just before Christmas. I kept the fresh tubers wrapped in newspapers in the lower compartment of my fridge until yesterday.

Fresh arrowheads (chìh-gû -慈姑)
The arrowroot plant is native to the tropics of South America. It is mainly cultivated for its starch which is used as a thickener (can replace corn starch) in many foods (sauces, cookies, cakes, soups, etc.). Arrowroot is gluten-free.

Fresh arrowroot tubers look like my daffodil bulbs I just bought at the flower market. They are only a bit smaller and each tuber has just one sprout coming out of its pointed end.

Daffodils: bulbs & sprouts

Do you see the similarity between daffodil bulbs and arrowroot tubers?

Once peeled the arrowroots’ white and crisp flesh reminded me of water chestnuts. I therefore thought they would, like the latter, be starchy and crunchy.

Raw arrowroots cut into pieces

To my surprise, its flesh was lightly crisp and neither starchy nor stodgy at all. Although a bit bland its taste was very pleasant and paired well with the salty sauce. Its texture was smooth. Arrowroot is very low in calories thus a perfect match for a rich dish (fat but delicious pork belly!).

The Cantonese usually braised arrowroots with pork and preserved black beans or salted yellow bean paste. I found a recipe on Internet using preserved bean curd (nàahm-yúh) the same kind I used in my braised pig's trotters recipe. 

I decided to try it as I love nàahm-yúh. This dish was very easy to make and very tasty. Let me share it with you.  Please try it and let me know.

Braised Pork Belly with Arrowroot (Recipe from Internet)

  • 1catty arrowroot, peeled and cut into 6 pieces
  • ~400gr pork belly, cut into bite size
  • 10gr preserved bean curd*
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soya sauce
  • Sugar, alt and light soya sauce to taste

  1. In a small bowl add water and mix bean curd into a paste.
  2. Take half of the preserved bean curd and marinate with the pork belly, salt and sugar for about an hour or more.
  3. Heat up a wok with some oil and sauté the smashed garlic till fragrant, add in the arrowroots and stir-fry.  After about 8 min. dish out and set aside.
  4. In the same wok, add in some oil and stir-fry the marinated meat.
  5. Add in the pre-fried arrowroots.
  6. Add in water (enough to cover all the ingredients).
  7. Add the remaining preserved bean curd (previously made into a paste), the oyster sauce and dark soya sauce.
  8. Put the lid on the wok and cook on medium to low heat till the meat is tender and the arrowroots soft.
  9. Add salt, sugar and light soya sauce to taste.
  10. Dish out and serve. Garnish with spring onion (optional)

Tips: Can be prepared one day in advance as braised dishes usually taste better reheated.

- For a more salty version add more preserved bean curd and/or dark soya sauce, AND
- For a better result next time I’ll use my Dutch oven (ma cocotte - Le Creuset)!

nàahm-yúh - 南乳 in Cantonese (to see how it looks like click here and check the 14th photo).

 Bon appétit!


Serve: 2-3 persons
Preparation time: 10-15min + 1 hour + (for marinating)
Cooking time: 1hour [15min (stir-fry) and about 45min (slow cook)]


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