Category Archives: Braise Recipes

Tomato & Pork Neck Chop with Olives, Capsicum & Speck served with White Polenta

Photo by Jun Pang

Nothing fancy here but it’s open for fancy stuff.  Chuck some smoked paprika into the braise to add little more flavour or saute some chorizo sausage in before you add the liquids, it lifts the dish to another level.  The polenta can also be added to like a little truffle oil at the end or saute mixed mushrooms in butter and fold it through just before serving and finish it off with a poached egg – bloody beautiful!

Most people ask me for quick recipes; simple but tasty.  They would rather know how to poach an egg than get too complicated with cooking.  The easier the better for most people.  No one has time these days and most would rather eat a meal that’s home cooked.  Simple dishes like these are often the best solution.

Tomato & Pork Neck Chop with Olives, Capsicum & Speck served with White Polenta

Serve 4

For the pork

4 Pork Neck Chops

200 gr Speck (or bacon) – sliced into thin strips

1 Onion – finely diced

6 Cloves Garlic – squashed with a back of a knife

2 Carrots – 2cm dice

1 Capsicum – deseeded and sliced 1cm thick strips

1 cup Kalamatta Olives

2 x 410gr tins of Tomatoes

500ml Chicken Stock

1 Fresh Bay Leaf

5 sprigs fresh Thyme

Sea Salt

Ground Black Pepper

Olive Oil


For the Polenta

1 Onion – finely Diced

½  Cup White Polenta

3 Cups Milk

100gr Butter

200 gr Parmesan Cheese

1 bunch Parsley – finely Chopped


For the Pork

  1. Put the oven on at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Heat up an oven proof pot on high heat until the pan is almost at smoking point.
  3. Season the pork with salt and pepper.  Add a little oil and brown the pork in the hot pan on both sides then set aside.
  4. Add the speck to same pan and cook until slightly brown to flavour the pot
  5. Sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, capsicum and olives until soft until onions are soft
  6. Pour in the tomatoes and cook until it starts to break down or for about 8 minutes on medium high heat.
  7. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil then allow it to simmer for ten minutes
  8. Place thyme and bay leaf in the pot along with the browned pork.
  9. Cover and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes
  10. Check seasoning and serve.

For the Polenta.

  1. Heat a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add the butter and sauté the onions until soft.
  2. Pour the milk into the pot and bring to a simmer
  3. Slowly stream the polenta into the pot whilst whisking with the other hand, avoiding the lumps
  4. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir continuously for about ten minutes.  Add hot water from the kettle if consistency is too stiff.
  5. When the polenta is soft and creamy, grate the parmesan into the pot off the heat
  6. Just before serving, stir the chopped parsley through

Photo by Jun Pang


Red Braise Beef

Just about every Asian country has a version of this dish.  Most use the same spices to flavour the braising liquid and the end result is subsequently similar in taste and appearance.

This is a Chinese version, using many and very different spices.  It is a very simple dish, simply place all ingredients in a pot and let it braise away for a period of time, perfect for those people who love on pot wonders.

This recipe calls for beef, I have used the strap off of a sirloin, the bit that most people throw away.  This bit of the muscle has lots of connective tissues, full of gelatin and as it cooks down, that gelatin adds flavour and gives the stock a little body, giving it that, sticky, wonderful gelatinous texture to the sauce.

Pork is absolutely perfect for this recipe, especially pork hocks and knuckles.  This piece of meat has double the gelatin and flavour is superb.  You can really use just about any cut of meat, just stay away from primal cuts, secondary cuts are the best and doesn’t dry out in the long, slow cooking process.

Photo by Jun Pang

Red Braise Beef with Red Dates

Served 2

For the Braised Beef:

1.5 Kg Beef Sirloin Strap – cut into 3cm cubes

6 Star Anise

4 Cinnamon Sticks

5 Pieces of Liquorice Root

¼ Cup Dried Mandarin Peel

400 Gr Rock Sugar

½ Bunch Spring Onion – cut into 5cm long batons

¼ Cup Ginger – roughly sliced into thin pieces

2 Cups Water

1 Cup Shaoxing (Chinese Cooking Wine)

1 Cup Light Soy

½ Cup Dark Soy

1 Cup Chinese Red Dates (jujubes)

For the Jasmine Rice:

2 Cups Jasmine Rice

2 Cups Boiling Water

For the Spring Onion Curls:

!/2 Bunch Spring Onion Greens –  slice into long strips, in ice water


For the braised beef

  1. Place about 2 liters of water on to boil.
  2. Once the water is boiled, blanch the beef in boiling water for about 5 minutes to get rid of impurities then drain in a chinois
  3. In a 5 liter pot, place the star anise, cinnamon sticks, liquorice root, dried mandarin, rock sugar, spring onion, ginger, water, shaoxing, light soy and dark soy in the pot and bring to boil then simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Add the blanched beef to the pot and cook for a further hour on really low.
  5. Add the red dates and cook for a further half hour
  6. Taste for balance (not too salty) if it is a little strong in flavour, add a little water
  7. Serve in a pot and garnish with spring onion curls

For the Jasmine Rice

  1. Place the rice into a 2 liter pot and wash several times with cold until the water is remains clear as opposed to “milky” appearance
  2. Totally strain the  rice with the rice still in the pot
  3. Add the boiling water, cover with alfoil (tin foil) sealing the edges so no heat escapes
  4. Turn on the lowest heat and cook for exactly 12 minutes with out “peeking” into the pot

Photo by Jun Pang

Shaoxing Wine – Fermented from rice.  Originated from Shoaxing, in Eastern China.  Used mainly in cooking.

Liquorice Root – is the root of a herbaceous perennial plant known it’s botanic name Glycyrrhiza glbra.  It’s not from the aniseed family how ever it does impart a flavour similar to aniseed and is used in perfect combination with star anise.  Regarded by the Chinese as one of the healing herbs which provide energy.

Red Dates – commonly used in Chinese cooking and other Asian cuisines.  Also known in the Western world as Jujubes, it comes from the Ziziphus plant.  Also regarded by the Chinese as part of the healing herbs which is good for blood and a muscle relaxant.

Rock Sugar – are large sugar crystals made form a saturated solution, heated and allowed  allowed to crystallize, forming these crystals.  Usually amber in colour and it is also known as Rock Candy

Adobo – WARNING once you start eating this, you won’t be able to stop……………

One of the best things to eat is a Filipino chicken Adobo! Adobo is as Filipino as it can get, it’s like the curry is as Indian as it gets and tacos are as Mexican as it can get. If you ask “Filo’s” what a typical Filo dish would be, most will say Adobo. Teamed with garlic fried rice, all you’ll need is warm weather and straw hutts and you’ll think you were in the Philippines.

The smell alone gets you salivating and hungry or not, you will succumb to this fabulous dish purely just on the aromas. You can make it with pork, chicken or a combination of both but when you are making it with chicken, use the legs or my favourite, the wings, cooked both on the bone. For the pork use the belly cut into strips, it’s so much more tastier. A combination of both gives such a great flavour to the juice/gravy and both ingredients remains juicy after being braised for a long time and it also gives out that “sticky” gelatinous texture that this dish is known for.

It has such simple flavours but it works, it does the job. As a kid my mum would cook this and it would be the only dish that my friends had no hesitation in trying, they loved it, couldn’t get enough of it. It is a great dish to introduce to people who haven’t tasted Filipino food in their lives.

What I love more abut this dish is that it is easy, I mean, you can really just place all the ingredients in a pot, turn the flame on and let it cook out, that’s how easy it is! I choose to brown the pig bits because I love the texture and flavour and for me, it’s about being “cheffy”, frying bits off and stuff, I mean it wouldn’t be theatrical if I just threw it all in a pot, now would it? We need flames, splatter of the oil, stirring of the pot and the theatre that comes with it all and if there’s anything you want to know about Filipino’s, it’s that every thing must be done with a little theatre!

Photo by Jun Pang

Chicken and Pork Adobo with Garlic Fried Rice

Serves 6

For the Adobo:

1kg Chicken Wings wing tips cut off, cut them into winglets

500gr Pork Belly cut into 1cm thick strips

4 tblspn Vegetable oil

1 Onion cut into 1cm dice

1/2 Bulb Garlic finely chopped

1 Bay Leaf

1 ¾ Cup Cane Vinegar use rice vinegar if not available

1 ½ Cup Light Soy Sauce

2 tspn Cracked Black Pepper

1 Cup Water

For the Fried Rice:

1tblspn Chopped Garlic

5 Cups Cooked Rice cooked and left to cool uncovered

4 tblspn Light Soy


1. Heat up a large pot on medium – high heat for one minute

2. Add the half the vegetable oil and heat for 30 seconds then add the pork strips. Cook the belly until it browns evenly

3. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent

4. Add the chicken wing and stir through

5. Add the garlic, bay leaf, cane vinegar, light soy, water and cracked black pepper

6. Bring to the boil then simmer on very low heat for 45 minutes or until the meat starts to fall off the bone on the chicken

7. For the rice, heat up a frying pan or wok really hot

8. Add the remaining oil then garlic and stir fry on high heat for 10 seconds then quickly add the rice and stir through continuously until the rice starts to break down into individual rice kernels and starts to fry evenly

9. Add the light soy and stir through

Photo by Jun Pang

Cane Vinegar – is made from sugar cane juice, made popular in the Philippines. It is a some what mellower flavour compared to other vinegars. It can range in colour from golden brown to yellow. It isn’t sweeter than any other vinegars and the closest substitute is rice vinegar. Vinegar is used in a lot of Filipino cooking and cane vinegar is the most used especially in dips, sauces etc. Cane vinegar is usually sold in most Asian supermarkets in Australia

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw

Serves 4

2kg Pork Neck

2 Cups Brown Sugar

1 litre Lemonade

2 Cups Light Soy

2 ½ Cups Tomato Ketchup

6 Cloves Garlic                                   finely chopped

¼ Red Cabbage                                 core removed, finely sliced

¼ White Cabbage                             core removed, finely sliced

¼ Cup Mayonnaise

4 Large Kaiser Rolls


1.     Place the brown sugar, lemonade, light soy, ketchup and garlic in large pot.  Bring to boil then simmer for 20 minutes

2.     Place the pork neck into the pot and cook on slow simmer for about 3 and a half hours or until the meat starts to fall apart

3.     Leave the pork to cool down in the stock.

4.     When it is cool enough to handle, pull the pork apart into fine strands

5.     Mix the cabbage into the mayonnaise

6.     Heat the strands of pork with a little of the pork liquid for moisture and additional flavour

7.     Once the pork is hot, place it into the buns, finishing off with coleslaw on top

8.     Serve with chips and some of the liquid on the side

I learnt this from a good friend of mine, Sean Cartwright who was taught by a  Filipino lady who used to work with us when I was an apprentice.  You can also use this recipe to poach pork chops or ribs then chuck it on the Webber for an extra Smokey finish.  Try Sarsaparilla instead of lemonade for extra spicy tones.

Photo by Jun Pang