This braised pork belly recipe with ginger, black pepper, palm sugar, star anise, and peanuts makes a comforting Cambodian slow-cooked pork belly dish that Cambodians would simply call a pork stew or khor sach chrouk – also spelt kaw sach chrouk. The palm sugar caramelises the pork and combined with ginger gives it a sweet fragrance, while the peanuts add crunch.
Our braised pork belly recipe with ginger, black pepper, palm sugar, star anise, and peanuts makes a comforting melt-in-in-your-mouth slow-cooked Cambodian pork belly dish that locals here in Cambodia call a pork stew or khor sach chrouk – also spelt kaw sach chrouk – and it’s one of our best stew recipes.
‘Stew’ in Khmer is ‘khor’ or ‘kaw’ and ‘sach chrouk’ means pork meat. A literal translation might be khor sach chrouk knhei mrech skor thnot sondek dei, which explains why it’s just called a Cambodian pork stew.
Whatever you want to call this braised pork recipe, it makes an incredibly delicious dish. It’s not only one of our favourite pork belly recipes, it’s one of our favourite pork recipes full stop, and thanks to those peanuts, it’s also one of our best recipes with nuts.
The wonderful Cambodian palm sugar caramelises the pork belly and combined with the pepper, star anise and ginger gives it sweet floral aromas that waft through our apartment whenever we make it, while the roasted peanuts add crunch.
Along with rice and soups, stews are some of the oldest things eaten here in the land we now know as Cambodia. If Cambodia’s culinary history interests you, please do consider supporting the work that we do here on Grantourismo and our epic Cambodian cookbook and Cambodian culinary history by becoming a patron on Patreon. Our first-of-its-kind project documents the stories and recipes of Cambodian cooks and you can support it for as little as the price of a dish of Cambodian pork stew.
Braised Pork Belly Recipe with Ginger, Black Pepper, Palm Sugar, Star Anise, and Peanuts
This Cambodian braised pork belly recipe with ginger, black pepper, palm sugar, and peanuts makes a different dish to the Cambodian slow cooked pork leg stew recipe for khor cheung chrouk (stewed leg of pork) and some of the other ‘same same but different’ and equally delicious recipes for Asian braised pork belly dishes we’ve published here.
Our Cambodian braised pork belly recipe is a little similar but also different to our Cambodian sweet pork belly with boiled eggs recipe, which is the pork dish that first comes to mind when most people think of a Cambodian pork stew or khor sach chrouk.
This Cambodian braised pork belly recipe has cousins in the Japanese braised pork belly dish butaniku no kakuni and braised pork belly recipes in neighbouring countries, including Thai and Vietnamese braised pork belly dishes, a Korean braised pork belly, and a Shanghai braised pork belly.
We love this Cambodian raised pork belly recipe and if you’re a pork lover and you’ve cooked and enjoyed our other pork recipes, we know that you’ll love this pork stew recipe.
If you’re interested in Cambodian cuisine, it’s worth noting that there’s another Khmer word for ‘stew’ and that’s ‘samlor’, which refers to both a soup and a light stew, typically made here with vegetables, pork, beef or chicken, and perhaps the addition of fish.
Unfortunately there’s not really a specific word for ‘braise’ in Khmer, but this braised pork belly dish is certainly more of a braise than a stew or a soup.
This is because the liquid added to the pork and palm sugar mix does not fully cover the pork and is meant to reduce down to a thick sauce.
This braised pork belly dish is in a different category and while it might be called a pork stew, it doesn’t have the thick hearty texture or vegetables that European stews would have because Cambodians would serve their vegetables separately.
Tips to Making this Braised Pork Belly Recipe
Back in the day, this braised pork belly dish would have been cooked in a clay pot on a traditional hearth inside the home or outside in a lean-to kitchen on a traditional clay brazier or perhaps even over an open fire. The way that many Cambodians cook in rural areas today isn’t so different.
Our own neighbours here in our village-like neighbourhood on the edge of Siem Reap cook outside over an open fire most days or on a clay brazier in the breezy open-sided kitchen beneath their traditional thatched house.
Once upon a time, a small to medium sized clay pot would have sufficed if the stew was for the family, but a large, almost cauldron of a pot, would have been used if they were making this for a special occasion. These days the locals use a clay or tin pot.
This means the pork gets cooked very evenly with pieces making contact with the bottom of the Dutch Oven.
In the old days this braised pork belly dish might have been made with a wild boar. But these days the locals use domesticated pigs – most villagers have a big fat sleepy pig that wanders about the yard that they’re saving for a special occasion.
And mostly free-range pork, carted from village to market each day on the back of motorbikes is wonderful in Cambodia.
Just the other day we saw a butcher slaughtering a beauty at our local market while customers waited for their cuts. Can’t get fresher than that.
Most Cambodians will not brine the pork belly for this dish. However, brining really works for this as even though the pork ends up fall-apart-tender, it’s still moist.
Don’t get pork belly that is two-thirds fat and one-third meat. While the fat will render away, you’ll end up with very little meat to eat.
Do not cut squares of pork smaller than 5cm as they will end up being tiny little morsels that won’t impress your dining companions.
I like to serve this with steamed jasmine rice, which is on the table at every meal in Cambodia, and some braised bok choy or other Asian greens. See our links above.
Braised Pork Belly Recipe with Ginger, Pepper, Palm Sugar, Star Anise and Peanuts
- 500 g pork belly
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 piece star anise
- 1 piece cinnamon stick
- 25 g garlic cloves - crushed & chopped
- 1 tablespoon black pepper - ground
- 50 g ginger - sliced
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 30 g palm sugar
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 150 g raw peanuts - peeled
- 1 tbsp ginger - sliced into thin batons
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves
- 1 tbsp peanuts - roasted (optional)
- Place the salt and sugar in a heatproof bowl pour over enough hot water to cover. Stir until both have dissolved. Let it cool down to room temperature or add a couple of ice cubes. When the water cools, add the pork to a plastic container and cover with the brine mix and extra water until completely covered. Add the star anise and cinnamon stick. Brine the pork belly overnight.
- The next day, drain and pat dry the pork belly and cut into 5 cm squares.
- To marinate the pork, combine the pork together with fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger batons and ground Kampot pepper. Mix well and leave to marinate for an hour. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, if it’s not to hot you can leave this out of the fridge.
- Once the pork is marinated, in a Dutch Oven, add the palm sugar and a little water and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, pork (including its juices) and peanuts and stir-fry for 7-5 minutes. Mix the pieces of pork so that they’re all fully coated with the palm sugar.
- Add stock and simmer with the lid on for 60 minutes.
- Add the dark soy sauce and simmer with the lid off for another 60 minutes. Top up the stock if the sauce becomes too thick.
- Serve with braised bok choy and steamed jasmine rice.
Do let us know if you make our braised pork belly recipe with ginger, black pepper, palm sugar, and peanuts for Cambodia’s pork stew or khor sach chrouk – also spelt kaw sach chrouk – as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.