Ro Zao (Braised Ground Pork)

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    Braised Ground Pork

    This braised ground pork dish, also called ‘ro zao’ in Chinese, is probably my favorite dish that reminds me of home and childhood.

    My mom would make this for us all the time and it is a traditional Taiwanese dish that we loved.

    The braised ground pork would make the entire house smell so good. Honestly, whenever I make this, the scent immediately brings me back to the house I grew up in.

    I remember when I first started living on my own, I had asked my mom to teach me how to make this because it was serious comfort food for me and it’s so easy to make a big batch of it to have throughout the week.

    I think it’s fascinating that cooking can evoke such emotion and memory. The scent, the taste — it all brings you back.

    What does braised ground pork taste like?

    The predominant flavor is Chinese five spice and soy sauce, but it’s hard to explain how good these flavors are together.

    Chinese five spice is a warming spice and it has anise in it, but I don’t think it particularly has a strong licorice flavor.

    Honestly, this is one dish that you just have to make at home to truly understand what I mean about flavor and smell.

    Can I make this with something other than ground pork?

    I’ve tried it with ground turkey and ground chicken.

    I definitely wouldn’t do ground beef.

    How long does this take to make?

    The longer it sits on the stove to braise, the better.

    If you’re in a hurry, 30 minutes is just fine but oh man, after 1-2 hours, it is even more glorious!

    What can I eat this with?

    We always ate it over rice or rice noodles

    How do I store leftovers?

    In the fridge in a covered container.

    Once you take it out of the fridge, you’ll see fatty bits that have floated to the top and hardened. You can either scrape it off or just reheat it with them and they just melt.

    Braised Ground Pork (Ro Zao)

    A classic Taiwanese comfort dish that brings me back to childhood. The flavors are incredible and unique.
    Prep Time: 20 mins
    Cook Time: 1 hr
    Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
    Course: Dinner
    Cuisine: Asian
    Servings (adjustable, but please note that results, timing, and cookware may vary when adjusting servings): 6
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    Ingredients

    • 1 package of spiced dry tofu
    • 5-6 dried shiitake mushrooms
    • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
    • 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
    • 4 hard-boiled eggs
    • 1 cup or more of soy sauce
    • 3 1/2 cups water
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fried scallions (you can usually find this at Asian marts, they come in a large plastic jar most of the time)
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

    Instructions

    • Prepare and cook your rice according to instructions (I have a rice cooker so I just popped my rice & water in there).
    • In a small pot, put your eggs in and fill it up with water to cover the eggs. Put on stove and hard-boil your 4 eggs for about 7-10 minutes.
    • Soak your dried mushrooms in hot water to soften them. While the mushrooms are soaking, dice the tofu into cubes.
    • After your mushrooms are softened, slice them into cubes as well.
    • Once your eggs are done, run them under cold water and then peel off the shells.
    • In a medium sized pot, on high heat, cook your pork. When the pork is halfway done cooking, add in the tofu, mushrooms and fried scallions.
    • Add in the soy sauce. You want a dark brown color from the soy sauce so you might need more than a cup of soy sauce. After you’ve added in the soy sauce, you can add in the 5 spice powder. Stir and cook everything for about 5 minutes then take 3.5 cups of water (more or less) to cover the entire pork mixture.
    • Add in your (whole) eggs. Bury them with the pork and liquid. Bring the liquid mixture to a boil and then let it simmer on low on the stove for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally (but be careful not to puncture the eggs, you want them to be pretty!).
      The longer you let it simmer, the more flavor, so I usually like keeping it on low for an hour or more and wait until the liquid is mostly cooked out. If you want the thicker liquid consistency, you can add in corn starch (prepare the corn starch by putting the corn starch in a small bowl and mixing it with water then pouring the corn starch mixture in the pork mixture while on the stove).
    • Serve over rice and enjoy!!

    Notes

    A lot of this recipe is based on taste. The recipe I gave above is what I used to achieve the way my mom has made it and the way I’ve grown up with. You can of course tailor it to your taste buds with more or less soy sauce, more or less 5 spice powder, more or less mushrooms..etc. If you have questions, feel free to ask!

    Photography by Ari Laing

  • 5 Comments
    Julie Wampler of Table for Two
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    Comments

  • Em says:

    Oh my.. just looking at the egg makes my mouth water! This looks just like what my mother in law makes,and since she went back to Taiwan we have been deprived of REAL asian food (i’m canadian so i have no idea how to make it!) But now I will definitely have to try this!! Thank you!!!

  • Mic says:

    No sugar needed here?

    P.S. I cooked your Honey Soy Chicken, sooooo good! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Julie says:

      Hi Mic, nope, no sugar needed! If you feel yours needs sugar, you can add it, but I didn’t need any for mine! I’m so glad you enjoyed the honey soy chicken! :)

  • Macy says:

    I just watched your snaps and had to come look at this since you said the pictures weren’t good. I have to say, you have come SO far in your writing and photography! I have my own food blog and I’m constantly stressing about the quality of my photography and writing but this gives me hope seeing how much you’ve changed. (I hope that doesn’t sound rude ?) I absolutely love your blog style now. Thank you for all you do!

    • Julie says:

      Haha, not rude at all! Thank you! I’m glad that there’s been change otherwise I would consider myself stagnant!

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