Babi Pongteh (Nyonya Braised Pork in Bean Sauce)

Malaysia is a country with a great variety of cuisines. No matter what income bracket you fall under, there’s good food for you enjoy. City or countryside, you’ll never lack. That’s one of the many benefits of living in a diverse country!

One of the many different kinds of cuisine available here is Nyonya food (Peranakan or Straits Chinese). I’ve had a good share of Nyonya foods through the years but I’ve never really made any dishes at home before. Nyonya food strikes me as difficult, time-consuming and only really well done by experienced grandmothers. I dare say that some Nyonya dishes are exactly like that.

Not this dish though. Pongteh is one of the more recognizable dishes of Malaccan Straits Chinese. And even though I’ve lived amongst people from that area, I’d only tried pongteh a few years ago. Didn’t take me long to look up the recipe. Having tasted that luscious sauce, I HAD to make it myself. Boy was I glad that this is such an easy one.

Salted & fermented bean paste or Taucu (Tau Cheo). Crucial ingredient in pongteh-making. I’ve cooked with this many times as it has always been a pantry staple for my mom and my grandmother before that.

Forgive me for the horrid pictures. I was really hungry and wanted to make dinner prep super quick. Yikes! 
Babi Pongteh 1

I like to add in a bit of extra water just so we have plenty of gravy later.
Babi Pongteh 2

The one ingredient I’ve never really used in a savoury preparation before is palm sugar or gula melaka. I’ve used honey or regular sugar but gula melaka makes so much sense! It’s deep, rich, nutty without being too sweet. I feel that even with a tiny teaspoon of this, it gives the dish it’s signature caramelized flavour.
Babi Pongteh 3

This is pre-braise.
Babi Pongteh 4

And this is post-braise.
Babi Pongteh 7

And after a good sauce reduction over high heat, we have tender succulent cubes of pork in a sticky salty-sweet gravy!
Babi Pongteh 8

If there’s anything that goes with rice like bees to flowers, this is it!
Babi Pongteh 9

Braising tough cuts of meat always keeps them super tender and moist. Love!
Babi Pongteh 11

It may seem like a small serving but with it’s bold flavours, this fed us for a good 3 meals ie 6 servings! 
Babi Pongteh 10

I need to make Devil’s Curry again soon and blog about it. It’s spicy good!


 “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” {Psalm 16:11}

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Babi Pongteh (Nyonya Braised Pork in Bean Sauce)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Nyonya / Peranakan
Serves: 6
  • 600 gm (1.3 lbs) Pork Shoulder / Butt, cubed
  • 1 tbsp Canola Oil
  • 1½ tbsp Taucu (Salted Bean Paste)
  • pinch of ground Black Pepper
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 slices Ginger
  • 3 Shallots, peeled & sliced
  • 5 fresh Shitake Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp Palm Sugar (Gula Melaka)
  • 1 tbsp Dark Cooking Caramel (less if you want it less dark or omit entirely)
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 cup Water, more or less
  1. Heat up oil in a medium sauce pan or pot.
  2. Brown pork pieces on MED HIGH.
  3. Turn heat down to MED. Add pepper, garlic, ginger, shallots & taucu. Saute to coat pork pieces. Bean paste can burn easily so do this carefully.
  4. Add in shitake slices, palm sugar, cooking caramel & soy sauce. Stir to mix evenly.
  5. Pour in water.
  6. Bring to a boil then down to a simmer. Braise for about 30-40 minutes or until meat is fork tender but not yet falling apart.
  7. Turn heat up to MED HIGH & reduce sauce to desired consistency. I let it go down quite a lot and took about 5-8 minutes.
  8. Before serving, taste to adjust seasoning. This is meant to be a little saltier to be enjoyed with rice!
You can add potato cubes into this dish for a little something extra!

Tell me more!