Braised Pork Belly and Yam

Salty, savoury and yam-my!
Occasionally, my dad calls my mum ni and I've always wondered about it when I was a kid. I knew how to write my mum's full name by then and none of the letters seem to indicate an abbreviation of that. Out of curiosity I asked and my mum said it's short for aww ni (say it quickly!), properly written as 芋泥 which in Teochew literally means yam mud (paste). Obviously that puzzled me even more!

My mum explained the sticky sweet yam paste is very much a traditional Teochew dessert. I remember tasting it at a Chinese wedding dinner long ago and it was diabetically sweet! In short, it's my parents' old-fashioned and romantic term of endearment which is the equivalent to our sweetheart or honey :)

This dish was made with my parents in mind, for being so very Teochew and married for 34 years, oh and still holding hands while walking down the grocery aisle! I hope they're not too embarrass by this post :) Anyway happy anniversary! 

Though it's not a particularly Teochew dish, in fact it's Hakka (as Ellie pointed out), just an array of Teochew style favourites, braising, soy sauce pork belly and of course, yam. It's usually served in Chinese restuarant but it can be just as fantastic making it at home :)

  • 500-800g pork belly
  • 300g yam (or 1 small-sized yam), peeled and evenly sliced
  • 5 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 shallots, minced 
  • 1½ cup water
  • ½  piece red fermented bean curd (Nam Yue)
  • 2 tsb dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsb light soy sauce
  • 1 tsb sugar (or 1 small piece of rock sugar) 
  • 1 tsb Chinese wine
  • 1 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 tsp black bean paste (optional)
  • 1 tsb vegetable cooking oil, for stir fry  
  • Spring onion for garnish
Adapted from No-Frills Recipes and Food Made with Love

  1. Rinse pork belly clean and rub with coarse sea salt. Blanch meat over hot boiling water and set a side
  2. Handle yam with extra care by wearing gloves while rinsing, peeling and slicing it. I didn't the first time and my hands were tingly (almost itchy) the whole day!
  3. Rinse yam slices and rub with sea salt. Keep gloves on whenever picking up yam pieces or at least until it's cooked
  4. Heat up a medium-sized pot with vegetable oil and stir fry garlic and shallot 
  5. Add yam slices in the pot and stir fry until yam are brown on all sides, dish it out and set aside
  6. Using the same pot, stir fry fermented bean curd while adding dark and light soy sauce, Chinese wine, sugar, black bean paste and five spice powder
  7. Bring to boil and add pork belly to shallow fry a few minutes until the exterior are slightly browned
  8. Pour water to the pot and close lid. Turn heat down and let simmer for 30 minutes. At any point if the liquid is drying up, add ½ cup water each time
  9. Add yam slices to the pot and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until all pieces are soft. Again add more water if necessary; more wine or soy sauces to retain the flavour. I did add an extra 1 tsb of both light and dark soy sauce along the way. Check regularly as yam absorbs moisture
  10. Taste sauce and add salt if necessary. I felt mine was salty enough from the soy sauces without any extra salt
  11. Sauce should not be too thin. Thicken it more by turning up the heat or braise a little longer
  12. Once ready, turn off the heat and remove pork belly to a chopping board. Slice pork belly slightly thicker than the yam pieces
  13. To assemble, alternate a slice of pork belly with a slice of yam and pour remaining sauce over the plate
  14. Garnish with spring onion and serve with hot steaming white rice!  


  1. Sounds like your parents have a lovely relationship, and this dish is such a sweet and delicious dedication to them. :)

  2. Awww what a lovely tribute to them! They sound so adorable!

  3. aww so sweet. LOVE "or ni", I had one of the best in Singapore many years ago and have not found one that's as good.

  4. I've never eaten taro in savoury dishes, but I love taro bubble tea (I'm drinking it at the monet ;)) and taro mochi or cakes. The story of your parents is very cute...:)!

  5. i sound a bit like a broken tape recorder saying this recipe sounds and looks amaazing!!! n i don't think i ever knew u were teochew... i am too! or mb i did... cos u like "chai kueh" so much....

  6. i am as well 1/2 teochew :) my mum is teochew...
    very nice! love this post

  7. We eat this with steamed it Kong Ba Pau :)

    Happy Anniversary to your parents. I am 1/2 Teochew due to my Dad...Mom's Hokkien.

  8. wow.... look awesome! will try out this recipe.

  9. Looks very yummy, Min ....... but think you've linked it to another of my 'Braised pork belly with yam'. The one above with nam yue should be the 'Braised pork ribs with yam' ..

    Am I right? It doesn't really matter, thanks for the shout-out! You do have a lovely blog, will drop in more often.

  10. oh my god , this made me drool!
    this would go perfectly with a bowl of rice!
    ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !
    i love you photos as well (:

  11. This looks absolutely delectable. My god. I want nothing more than that for breakfast -- I am not ashamed! :-p What a sweet story from your parents. Love.

  12. Oh your parents sound totally cute. This recipes looks absolutely gorgeous - what great flavours.

  13. Oh! I love this dish...just want a big bowl of white rice to go with it...beautifully done :-)

  14. I love this dish and such a cute story about your parents :) I actually like or ni too (in small doses). Your braised pork looks fab!

  15. This is one of my favourite homey dishes. Usually the taros were first gone. :-))

  16. Awww, I love the story about your parents. Very sweet.
    And if I ate pork belly, I'd probably be craving this - it sounds good...

  17. my kind of food! very addicting both with rice and buns. Your version looks very good :)

  18. I've had this dish in restaurants and it's fantastic, just like yours. Love how the meat is always meltingly soft, yum!

  19. One of my favorite dishes. Yours look so inviting.

  20. I'm really surprised by all the sweet comments! Thank you :) My dad let slipped that he read it in passing when he sent me to the airport ;) How coy...

    Ellie (Almost Bourdain) pointed out that this dish is Hakka so I amended the description a little. And I've also fixed the link to No-Frills Recipes

    Thank you again for all the lovely words! It means so much to me :)

  21. Aww such a sweet term of endearment! And I love pork belly and yam. (Though both very sinful!)

  22. Such a sweet story :) I made a Dongpo Pork before, I think it's similar to this dish but without the yam. I also used star anise instead of five spice powder, but I really want to try this recipe! Yum yum yum :)