Monday, June 10, 2013

Penang Nyonya Hong Bak (Braised Pork with Aromatic Spices) - MFF Penang #6

Hong Bak is a dish common among the Hokkiens. Somehow I do get confused with the Hokkien's version of Tau Yew Bak and Hong Bak, what's the difference? Please let me know because they do look similar to me. Hope to learn more :)

From what I know the East Coast Chinese descendants in Kelantan and Terengganu makes another version and they combine pork with chicken and the ingredients are different too.

So, what make the Penang Nyonya version different? It's the use of coriander and lesser galangal (last picture below).

After I have tried this dish, I knew why I don't quite like to eat nyonya dumplings.... it's the combination of bean paste with coriander seeds that puts me off. My family don't have the same problem as me, and my hubby happily ate up all. It's just my personal problem.

Penang Nyonya Hong Bak
Recipe source: Nyonya Flavours  (pg124)

350gm pork belly/trotters (I used belly), cut into chunks
2 potatoes,  cut into wedges
1 Tbsp Dark Caramel sauce
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp sugar or to taste
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 Tbsp bean paste (30gm)

Spice Paste
3 Tbsp coriander seeds
5gm cekur/lesser galangal root
25gm garlic
100gm shallots

1. Grind the spice paste.
2. Put oil in heated wok and then saute the paste until fragrant, then add in the bean paste and fry again until it smells good.
3. Add the meat in and fry for a while until the meat turn opaque. Add in water (enough to cover the meat) and seasonings  , bring it back to a boil and lower to simmer for 40 minutes.
4. Add in potatoes, and simmer until the potato is cooked. Add more water if necessary.

For your information, Cekur is an important ingredient in Penang Nonya cooking. Also used in Indonesian cooking and known as Kencur. In English, it is called  'Lesser Galangal' and lol, don't take it literally and reduce the galangal's amount. Chinese herbal shops do have 'shajiang' powder, if you cannot find fresh cekur. Unfortunately I do not know how much to be used in place of fresh cekur.

I bought these at Kampar's  wet market, cost me RM2 and planted the balance that I didn't use up.

 I am submitting this to Malaysian Food Fest Penang Month 


  1. oh i luv the flavour of cekur! hmm will try out this and let u know whether i like this combination hehehe

  2. I love Hong Bak, my mom's version is super peppery as it has a lot of spices and pepper. She dont add potato but sometimes she adds duck and pork together cos there is Hong Ark version too in my family. Looking at yours, I shld find out from my mom her recipe too...

  3. Peng,
    Cekur is nice.. but taucheo and coriander combination is not for me

    Food Dreams,
    Oh please do!!
    Don't let it go extinct
    Master it and let the sifu guide u

  4. Wendy, myself same as you! I also did not like the corriander and taucheow combination. I cooked Hong Bak from Nonya Flavours but I haven't posted yet.

  5. he he he, I made this last week...nice...

  6. The difference between:

    ● Tau Yew Bak (aka Loh Bak) - cooked in a Lu Shui soup, the meat is boiled into the ready premix soup. It is lighter.

    ● Hong Bak - the meat is not cooked or boiled in a soup. It is thicker.

  7. This recipe is very tasty..I use pork shoulder n omit the coriander but still taste fantastic..I dnt hv chunk of potatoes cos I make sure all melt..tq

  8. Thank you for the recipe. Been cooking this dish using your recipe. Always delicious. Bring back fond memories of the good old days.Thanks again.


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