Saturday, April 20, 2013

Aniseedy tau yew bak

When I returned from Singapore in October, I made a mad dash to the kitchen like never before.   I was melancholic on the plane, poring over every page in Cooking for the President, which counts as the most expensive cookbook I've ever bought.  I threw my homesickness into making food from home.  The dish I chose that frenzied, grief-stricken, homesick day was tau yew bak (soy sauce pork belly).  I had cooked it before.  I also ended up straying from the recipe as usual. I threw in the one spice that spoke to me more than anything else of my mother's interpretation of this dish - star anise. Once it's in my kitchen drawer I slip it in stocks and soups and even stir-fries - a travesty. But this is where the star anise finds its true home, adding a frilly border to the sweet and macho character of the dark soy sauce, the springy bellyness of the pork.