One of the areas that I often discuss with my patients is their diet. As a Chinese herbal practitioner, I'm constantly looking at the properties of food and drink from a Chinese medicine perspective and how it affects a particular condition or a particular patient. My folks come from Hong Kong where there's a rich tradition of using herbs in everyday cooking and I grew up with herbs incorporated into our everyday meals pretty much as standard, whether it was my mum making one of her herbal bone broth soups or my dad using cinnamon and clove in his roast meats. Diet and herbal approaches remain my first-line approaches for common self-limiting complaints such as headaches, coughs and colds.
Interest in self-care amongst my patients has never been stronger and patients enjoy finding out about getting additional benefits of herbs without having to take herbal granules or decoctions. With this in mind I’m starting to write blog posts that include some quick and easy recipes that can be made up at home with herbs and spices that are easily found in your local supermarket. The aim of these recipes is to make some delicious food and also to explain how the dish supports some aspects of health. Not everyone has time to cook and not everyone enjoys cooking - for these reasons the recipes have been chosen for their simplicity and most importantly they don't need hours slaving in front of a stove!
Today’s recipe is called “Loh Bak” (滷肉), or Five Spice Braised Pork. It was introduced to me as a festive dish by my husband who is from Singapore. Over the years he's refined the dish so that it can be made in 20 minutes and which uses pork shoulder rather than the usual fatty pork belly. It's a great recipe for cold winter days and goes very well with brown rice and a vegetable stir fry! The herbs in this recipe are considered to be warming and helpful for circulation and is especially suitable for pain that improves with warmth such as period pain or some types of arthritis, and those with poor circulation. Conversely this recipe would not suit women experiencing menopausal symptoms or certain inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory acne or rheumatoid arthritis.
FIVE SPICE braised PORK RECIPE
- 6 pork shoulder steaks
- 4 hard boiled & peeled eggs
- 2 cm of peeled ginger
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon (or 1 stick)
- 1.5 tablespoon dark soya sauce
- 3 tablespoons of light soya sauce
- 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
You will need:
1 x Pressure Cooker
- Heat up coconut oil in the pressure cooker.
- Add garlic, ginger, cinnamon, star anise and cloves to the oil and let sizzle.
- Add pork steaks and brown.
- Stir in dark soya sauce and light soya sauce to coat the pork and bring to a sizzle.
- Add enough water to cover the meat and bring to a boil.
- Add peeled boiled eggs and ensure that they are just covered by the water (stir and add more water if needed).
- Cover and pressurise your pressure cooker on high heat.
- Once steam starts to escape your pressure cooker, lower the heat to its minimum setting and leave for 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let the pot sit until it’s cooled down.
- Serve with brown rice or Chinese rice buns and stir-fried vegetables.
HINT 1: You can make your hard boiled eggs by steaming them - this makes them much easier to peel.
HINT 2: You don’t need to completely peel the garlic. Just take most of the loose skin off. The pressure cooked will extract all the goodness.
HINT 3: This recipe can be made in advance and simply heated up again just before serving - perfect for family meals or dinner parties!