Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Sambal Belimbing Pork Belly

There is one particular dish which my mom sometimes cook, and I like it very much. I feel it is pretty unusual as it is seldom found in the menu in restaurants or even in the kopitiam tze char stalls. That is why I would like to introduce it here. I shall name this dish Sambal Belimbing Pork Belly (3-layer meat 三层肉).

The core ingredient used for this dish is a particular fruit called Belimbing. Belimbing means star fruit in Malay. Its English term is called Leatherback Bamboo Tree (or Leatherback acid) and it is a type of fruit that comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. This fruit is small like the size of a thumb and it is rarely eaten fresh because it was too sour. Belimbing is commonly used as a flavor, and as an ingredient of a sauce for vegetables or meat or fish curries, or spicy and sour dishes. It is not that easily available and cannot be found in the supermarkets. My mom buys it from the wet market if they are available, usually she buys 2 small packets.

After removing some core tiny seeds in the center, it is cut into small slices. My mom lightly pounded the crunchy strips and squeezed them to extract some of the juice out. The reason is because, otherwise, it will be very sour. I heard that its juice is very effective for relieving high blood pressure, diabetes and blackouts. In addition it is also effective for treatment of dental pain and acne. For those who suffer from continuous cough, it is advisable to boil the fruit and drink the boiled water every morning and evening.

Mom bought 2 strips of the 3 layer pork, about 700gm. It is washed clean and dry. Then as for the sambal chilli, mom always has some ready paste in the fridge because she made in batches from scratch. The chilli paste usually includes belacan (shrimp paste), small onions, small and big chilli, garlic, candlenuts etc...  Usually she blended the soaked dry chilli, onions, candlenuts and belacan into a fine paste, and with heated oil, fry the pounded ingredients over medium heat till fragrant.

Next she cut the 3 layer pork into slices and marinated them with sesame oil, light soya sauce, pepper, and corn flour, and left for at least an hour or more.  Then it's time to cook the dish!  Frying some minced garlic over heated oil till fragrant, next she added the chilli paste she had prepared beforehand and stir for 1 minute. Then she added the 3 layer pork, making sure to stir till the pork is well coated with the paste. Next she added the Belimbing and salt to taste. Stir well, cover and cook over medium flame, stirring every few minutes. The combination of the pork and belimbing and paste is left to simmer till it is cooked. For 3 layer pork, it is advisable to cook it a little longer so that will be more tender.  Note that you need not put in all the belimbing, but you can gradually increase a little at a time to suit your taste, if you do not like it too sour.

Sambal Belimbing Pork Belly is completed!  Here is a close up. Can you see the pork  and the darkened green belimbing already well mixed into a delicious looking gravy? Serve this with steamed plain rice, it is very appetising, because of the sour and tangy taste from the Belimbing.

This Sambal Belimbing Pork Belly is a very satisfying dish, as you will not feel lemak (too filling) due to its sour gravy. I am always excited and happy when my mom decides to cook this dish.  Maybe next time I will attempt to cook this dish myself.


  1. Em.. interesting! I have nv seen this "fruit" before. So this is usually use to stir-fry with sambal? Andy chinese name?

  2. Hi Ellena, I'm not sure of the chinese name! It's mostly used by the Malays in cooking I think. To be safe it can be bought in geylang serai or zhu jiao market. Done markets randomly sell. It is nicer with sambal as it is sour. Can also cook with fish.

    Old Beng, Hahah! If got chance next time I ask my mom to cook for you and your CBL. :P


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