Lo Ba, also known as Lu Ro Fan to those who speak Mandarin Chinese, could be considered the mac-and-cheese of the Taiwanese. It is a savory stew of slow-cooked pork, served piping hot over steaming bowls of white rice.
The dish is made best with chunks of lean and fatty pork meat, and because it is inexpensive to prepare, Lo Ba is offered with little fanfare in street-side eateries all across Taiwan. In the United States, however, it is difficult to find restaurants that serve Lo Ba, let alone spend the time to simmer the meat slowly until it is tender.
This recipe makes enough stewed pork for 12 servings. If you end up with leftovers, you can freeze the pork, defrost and reheat whenever you’re ready to serve it again. Many say the taste of a late-night bowl of leftover Lo Ba is just as good as a fresh-cooked batch, if not better.
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 3-4 cloves of fresh shallots (chopped)
- 2-3 pounds of pork belly*, cut into small pieces. 1/2″ x 1″ strips work well.
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp five-spice powder
- 1 Tbsp sugar or its equivalent in rock sugar
- 1/2 cup of fried shallots*
- 1-2 cups of rice wine to taste
- 4-5 cups of water to taste
- Cooked rice
- 1/2 cup of fried shallots
- Heat the oil in a large wok and fry the chopped shallots over medium-low heat until the pieces turn light brown.
- Add the pork belly to the wok and stir-fry until the meat turns white.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the wok, from soy sauce through water, and bring the contents to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, then simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender.
- Mix in 1/2 cup of fried shallots and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
- Pour the pork mixture over cooked rice and serve immediately.
Fried shallots are a Taiwanese seasoning made of shallots that are sliced thinly and then fried until crispy. You can buy fried shallots inexpensively at Asian grocery stores, order them online or make them from scratch and store for up to 2 weeks.
Pork belly is the most flavorful ingredient to use in this recipe, but if you need a substitute, you can also use ground pork. If you use ground pork, the stewed pork can also be used as a topping for noodle soup.