Soy and Spice Simmered Pork Shoulder

Soy and Spice Simmered Pork Shoulder Recipe

Annie Leong, my mother-in-law, has been my indispensable tutor in Malaysian cookery. This is one of her simple, delicious recipes, which is similar to the Chinese style of “red cooking” popular in the country. But this version takes on a distinctly Southeast Asian spin with its infusion of lemongrass and galangal. The star anise and cinnamon perfume the rich brown sauce with their kind aromas.

If you can resist finishing it all and need to refrigerate for the next day, make sure to remove the spice so they don’t over-infuse the sauce. A pressure cooker works extremely well for this dish. Simply pressure cook 20 minutes to achieve ultra-tender pork. Steamed white rice and some sliced cucumbers complete the meal.–Robert Danhi

Soy and Spice Simmered Pork Shoulder Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 3 H
  • 4 servings


  • 1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder or butt, cut into 2-inch chunks (do not trim fat or skin)
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce, or 1/4 tablespoon black/thick soy and 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 medium shallots, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and bruised
  • 4 slices galangal, 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 stick “cassia” cinnamon
  • 2 pieces star anise


  • 1. Marinate pork in soy sauce and sugar for at least 1 hour. In a blender, mini-food processor or mortar, create a smooth paste with the shallots, garlic, and oil. (Or in a mortar, pound the garlic first, then add the shallots and pound until smooth. Stir in oil and proceed.)
  • 2. Heat a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat; add the shallot mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the raw aroma has dissipated. Add the marinated pork (along with any marinade), the lemongrass, galangal, cinnamon, and star anise. Add just enough water to cover (usually about two and a half cups).
  • 3. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then lower to simmer. Cook until the pork is very tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Adjust seasoning with soy sauce, sugar, and salt to taste.
  • 4. Before storing, remove the star anise and cassia so they do not overpower the dish.
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