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Hakka Char Yoke
Hakka Char Yoke, or melt-in-your-mouth braised pork with wood ear mushroom, is a Chinese dish fit for festive occasions.
My parents are Cantonese, but my in-laws are Hakka, and so over the years I have been slowly exposed to more and more Hakka dishes. One such dish is Hakka Char Yoke, a braised pork dish with wood ear mushrooms, often served in Chinese New Year or other festive gathering. This is very easy to prepare at home, so it doesn’t have to be a once a year dish.
Fermented red beancurd
The key ingredient to prepare Char Yoke is fermented red beancurd. You can usually find this alongside other jarred soybean products in your Asian market. Also, notice that there are two versions of fermented beancurd, the red version, and the white version. Red version is usually used in cooking, while the white one has milder taste and is typically served as condiment for congee. If you have no access to brick-and-mortar Asian market, you can also get this from Amazon.
Pork belly vs. pork shoulder
Traditional recipes will use pork belly, and if this is served for a family gathering, I do think it is best to stick with pork belly. But for daily rotation, I prefer using a less fatty cut such as pork shoulder. The end result is still a very tender melt-in-your-mouth pork, and hopefully healthier for my family. But regardless of the pork cut you choose, this dish is indeed very flavorful and delicious.
Hakka Char Yoke
- 900 gram (2 lb.) pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces (*)
- 1 egg
- 5-6 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- enough oil for deep frying
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 30 gram fermented red beancurd
- 30 gram dried wood ear mushroom, soaked in cold water to rehydrate
- 4 tablespoon Shaoxing, divided
- 1 liter (4 cup) water
- 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional garnish)
- Marinade (puree together the following)
- 75 gram shallot
- 50 gram fermented red beancurd
- 1 teaspoon five spice powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Mix pork with marinade in a mixing bowl. Cover the bowl, and rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.
- Prepare a pot of hot oil for deep frying.
- Add egg to the pork mixture, mix well. Coat the pork pieces with all-purpose flour, then deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. Set aside on a wire rack to drain off excess oil.
- In a wok/deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Sauté garlic and fermented red bean curd until fragrant.
- Add wood ear fungus and fry for 1 minute. Return fried pork to the pan, along with 2 tablespoon of Shaoxing. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoon Shaoxing, along with water, oyster sauce, and dark soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until pork is tender, about 45 minutes.
- (*) Most people use pork belly, but I like to prepare this dish with a less fatty cut.
Okay this was just so good! It was tender pork and so flavorful. I was a little nervous trying to make a dish like this but it came out perfectly! Thanks!!
Yay, I'm glad it was a success, Sara. :)
The marinade in this dish sounds so delicious!
This looks like a very unique recipe!
Cindy Gordon says:
Great dish for celebrating! Thank you for this recipe!
I've never tried this dish before which makes it really exciting to try it out! I've got to get all the ingredients I need though but other than that - I am good to go! :-)
A very Hakka dish that seems to be universally liked. As Hakka, we use or omit 5 spice depending on flavour preference. A cleaner note is to omit as 5 spice tend to be utilised more by Hakka diaspora in SE Asia for a stronger spice flavour whilst using less or no cooking wine. It's a way of stretching the dish like adding more salt while cutting the meat finer etc. Some will use all purpose flour whilst others use only cornstarch vs half and half. The distinction will result in the variation of mouthfeel left by the thickened sauce. Flour will be heavier like dissolved bread but more robust vs cornflour being more a thickened sauce. Wood ear dry amount vary from 30 to 60 gm per kg of meat as more is used for older people health wise. Any more it becomes a mushroom dish instead. Pretty bang on recipe.
This is delicious! It was so easy and had so much flavor. Will definitely be making again!
Andrea Metlika says:
I've never had anything like this before. It sounds so flavorful and comforting. I cannot wait to make this for my family.
This looks so delicious! I really want to try it but just have to find that bean curd... I guess you can't use anything else instead, or is there something else that's "almost" the same?
Unfortunately, fermented red bean curd has a very distinct taste that would be very hard to substitute. The only real substitute would be fermented white bean curd, which is basically almost the same stuff but has a white color instead of red.
Asian grocery store that stocks a lot of Chinese ingredients usually stock these in either the bean sauce aisle (along with dou ban jiang, black bean paste, e.t.c.) , or the refrigerated sections (along with pickled food). They come in a glass jar, and inside is tofu cubes with red color brine. I hope this helps.
I haven't heard of this before, but I am loving all the flavours going on.
I always kind of nervous to try new recipes, especially another cuisine, but following your recipes, my meals always turn out right. Well, at least, they look like yours on pictures:) I am making this pork meal right now. It smells deliciously. LOVE it!
Can I make this the day before? Or is it best eaten straight after cooking? Thank you!
Sarah, you can totally make this the day before. Simply reheat when you want to serve the dish. I usually place mine in a microwave proof bowl and reheat for 1 minute just before serving.
The aroma of the Shaoxing and five-spice! This recipe is no joke- it takes patience and extra steps, but the result... wow. Looked just like the photos! The main thing is getting a hold of the fermented red bean curd, and I already had it from making Char Siu (another amazing recipe that makes buying this worthwhile for pork aficionados).
I want to say: my tiny, podunk, American grocery store FINALLY FINALLLLLY had pork belly. I've been dying to try some of the pork belly recipes here, and I finally had the chance. In excitement, I split the pre-packed meat into two ~650g portions (the other portion to make Hong Shao Rou), so I basically halved this recipe. I would love to try this with the shoulder cut as well, but the pork belly was very indulgent and I think this was a great recipe to celebrate my first locally obtained pork belly XD
Anyway, this recipe is set to impress. I will definitely make it again (with leaner stuff too so I can eat it more often!)
Sue li Liau says:
I made this today and its just amazing. I made it in Philip all in one multi cooker pressure cooker. It's great and turned out like what I wanted it to taste. Thank you.
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