Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
1 slice of belly pork per person or the equivalent weight of pork shoulder.
3-4 Star Anise,
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
Ginger, 1-3 thin coins of root (or several slices of sweet preserved) to taste
sugar to taste (1-2 tsp)
20 whole Szechuan pepper corns
5-10 dried small whole chilli peppers (10 gives good hot spicy taste)
1 baking potato per person. Peeled and cut into 1" cubes
Other optional vegetables eg soaked dried mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, regular mushrooms (NOT vegetables that go soft eg carrots or parsnip)
Remove the skin from the pork if you don't like it.
Cut pork into 1" cubes. Blanch in boiling water for 1 minute.
Peel potatoes and cut them into 1-2" cubes. Leave them in a bowl of cold water until needed with any optional vegetables.
Place the pork into a pan and cover with clean cold water. Bring to a boil.
Add star anise, soy sauces, sugar, ginger, pepper corns and chillies (if you have muslin bags to put spices in then do this as there's a lot of small sized spices in this).
Cover and simmer until the pork becomes soft to a fork (for 1-2hrs in a regular pan or 20mins in a pressure cooker at high pressure) adding water if needed.
If the cooked mix has too much water then reduce by boiling briskly until excess evaporates.
Taste to check that seasoning is to your liking.
Add potatoes and optional vegetables to the pan and leave them on the surface. Cover with a lid and steam alltogether gently for 20mins.
Mix together (but try to remove spices that you see) and serve in soup bowls.
It's such a simple recipe it's easy to experiment with different combinations of vegetables. I don't bother with onion but mushrooms work well to soak up the juices and bamboo shoots/water chestnuts give crunch. A vegetarian version works well with mushroom rather than pork.