Hau Pau Recipe by Pamelia Chia


Hau Pau is an almost extinct dish in Singapore. It also goes by the name Hor Pau, which means purse. This dish was created by an enterprising hawker as an auspicious item for the Peranakans who loved to gamble.

In Flavour Memories, Pamelia Chia speaks with Bibik Susanna to recreate this Teochew-Nyonya hybrid of a dish. How will she fare? šŸ™ˆ


Makes 20Ā 

For the braising sauce and ingredients:Ā 
2-3 tablespoons oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
50g unpeeled galangal, cut into thick coins
1 head garlicĀ 
Ā¾ tablespoon five spice powder
1 cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 cloves
2 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 tbs gula melaka
135g light soy sauce
750g water
600g pork bellyĀ 
350g chicken gizzards
Peeled hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with a little water to form a slurry

For the purses:
20 pieces of taukwa, measuring about 5.5cm x 3.5cm x 3.5cm, insides dug outĀ 
150g skinless taro, cut into 5mm cubesĀ 
150g braised pork belly (see above), cut into 5mm cubes
150g braised chicken gizzards (see above), cut into 5mm cubes
150g deep-fried fish cake, cut into 5mmcubes
150g cucumbers, seeded, cut into 5mm cubes

To serve:Ā 
3 red chilliesĀ 
2 cloves garlicĀ 
Ā½ thumb length old ginger, peeledĀ 
60ml vinegar or moreĀ 
Ā½ tablespoon sugar
Ā½ teaspoon saltĀ 
Coriander leaves


Heat the oil in a pot or in a wok. Fry the sliced onion until slightly caramelized, then add the rest of the ingredients, except the eggs. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour, turning halfway through to encourage even colouring. You donā€™t need to braise the pork belly for more than an hour because you donā€™t want it to be tender to the point of falling apart ā€“ you want it to have some bite. Remove the pork belly and gizzards after an hour and turn off the heat. Add the eggs and allow to sit in the braised liquid, turning to colour the outsides evenly. Remove the egg from the braising liquid and cut into eighths lengthwise, then in half crosswise. Bring the braising liquid back to the boil and add the cornstarch slurry to thicken the liquid into a sauce. 

Using a knife, trace out a rectangle on the surface of the taukwa and using a spoon, dig out the insides of the rectangle with a teaspoon ā€“ be careful to not break the tau kwa. Place the tau kwa in salted water to brine for half an hour. Remove from the water and drain on paper towels. Pat dry thoroughly. Deep fry until golden brown in hot oil (200C). Drain on paper towels to get rid of excess oil. In the same oil, place the taro cubes in a sieve and deep fry until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Toss the taro with the other diced ingredients and fill the taukwa using a teaspoon.

Blend the chillies, garlic, ginger, vinegar, salt and sugar until smooth. Add more vinegar, salt and sugar to taste. Top each filled taukwa with a little braised sauce, then with a coriander leaf and a small piece of egg. Enjoy with the chilli sauce. 

Author Pamelia Chia

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