Monday, March 10, 2014
I have been cooking, quite a fair bit.
The weeklong Lunar New Year break was filled with my mother's hearty simplicities, a batch of compulsory pineapple tarts, my new favorite Japanese rice spread with a raw egg - Tamago Kake Gohan (卵かけご飯), and Vijay's undivided obsession in the form of Hakka stewed pork belly.
Meanwhile, at the cafe, dinner service is getting busier during week nights. We're excited to see new customers discovering our comforting, hearty menu after a long day's work. On weekends the kitchen crew can hardly eat our own meals without either gobbling them down or go halfway before returning to stone cold leftovers later.
Despite this constant busyness, staff meals are never compromised on. The cafe's kitchen believes in taking care of the crew, for without them being we will not be able to service our customers. So with every bit of our strength, we indulge our team with the best ingredients and flavors as much as we can.
I've been trying out new things, using ingredients already in the kitchen, at times bringing my own finds from the market. I try to savage what is usually thrown away and made bottles of flavorful prawn oil for future applications. I cooked nasi lemak in a pot over the stove for the first time in my life, almost burned it and got it perfect the second time. There's no shortage of ideas between my kitchen mate and I. We learn from each other and surprise our staff with things not on the menu to their delight.
This version of Bak Chor Mee is albeit my own interpretation. The minced pork is marinated and stir fried instead of just blanched. The mushrooms are simply sautéed and seasoned instead of stewed. I made the chili sambal using a raw sambal blend we put in the cafe's sambal fried rice, cooked down with prawn oil and some shallots. There's no pork lard and just a dash of Sherry vinegar in the sauce.
If you want to make this following the authentic Singaporean method, I strongly suggest reference to this recipe by Shu Han. It is done similar to those sold at the stalls, the way would eat at least once a month.
Bak Chor Mee (肉脞面 - Minced Pork Noodle)
- 350 grams good quality hand minced pork (meat marbled with fat is best)
- 2 tablespoons good quality soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon good quality oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 250 grams shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3-4 shallots, thinly sliced
- peanut oil for frying
- 2 tablespoons good quality soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon good quality oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili sambal
- 1-2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 portions of thin egg noddles (mee kia)
- scallions to serve, thinly sliced
- Romaine lettuce (or other greens) to serve
Marinate the minced pork with soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and peanut oil for at least 30 minutes. In a wok or large frying pan, sauté the mince over high heat till cooked, then set aside, discarding most of the liquid released from the pork.
Wipe down the wok/pan, then sauté the mushrooms over high heat in some oil. Season accordingly with salt and pepper, set aside. Add oil to the pan to about 4 tablespoons worth, then fry the sliced shallots till just golden brown. Remove the shallots and pour the shallot oil into a medium mixing bowl. Add to the bowl the ingredients for the sauce - soy and oyster sauces, sambal, vinegar and sesame oil.
Bring a medium pot of water to boil and cook the egg noddles according to the level of doneness preferred. Drain and immediately toss the hot noodles in the bowl of sauce ingredients. Divide the dressed noodles into serving bowls lined with a few pieces of lettuce or your choice of greens. Top with minced pork, mushrooms, fried shallots and scallions to serve. Add more sambal on the side as desired.
Continue reading Bak Chor Mee (肉脞面 - Minced Pork Noodle)
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
It's that time of the (new) year again where I would start losing sleep in mild panic. Just three weeks before the Lunar New Year and not long before my mother descends over the straits on me and my currently (rather) dire state of an apartment. With curtains to launder, hoarded mess to tuck away, windows to clean and only-God-knows-how-many other things associated with the annual grand spring cleaning waiting to be done, who has the time to think about elaborate dinners?
This dish though, yet another one using salted eggs - a Hakka staple, would be achievable. I'm sure most of my cooking Chinese readers can do this with their eyes closed. One of my many childhood favorites, I remember never failing to get excited every time my parents made it. It could be the only dish on the dining table for all I care, and I would gladly down lots of rice with it. My version is rather rustic, using only salted eggs and no water. My parents never attempted to make it soft and smooth like regular steamed egg.
For best results, use a good cut of pork with enough fat for flavor and texture. Mincing by hand is better than getting ready ground meat, and those calories burned while you work that cleaver wouldn't hurt. Be sure to use a shallow dish for steaming and the freshest salted duck eggs you can find.
May this simple back to basic concoction bring you some nostalgic memories from home this coming Horse year!
Hakka Salted Egg Steamed Pork (咸蛋蒸猪肉)
Recipe from my mother.
Yield: One dinner plate sized dish enough for 4 to 6.
- 3-4 salted duck eggs, raw
- 500-600 grams pork collar or shoulder, hand minced preferred
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons sesame oil
- salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- coriander, sliced spring onions for garnish, optional
Once the pork is minced, mix well with the corn starch, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your steaming vessel of choice (I use a wok) with boiling water and a steaming rack. Crack the salted eggs and separate the white from the yolks. With your fingers, gently pinch and break the yolks into smaller pieces.
Lay out the marinated minced pork onto a wide, shallow dish, ensuring even thickness around the plate for even cooking. Pour over the salted egg whites evenly across the dish. Personally I like to leave some parts of the dish pool with more whites for a rustic effect. Divide the broken egg yolks in between the meat, pressing some deep and letting others float on the surface. (If anyone who will be sharing this dish dislikes yolks, leave one section completely free of them and voila, problem solved!)
Steam over medium high heat for 20 to 25 minutes or till pork is cooked. Garnish with a few more drops of sesame oil, spring onions or coriander. Serve over warm steamed rice and extra soy sauce if necessary.
Continue reading Hakka Salted Egg Steamed Pork (咸蛋蒸猪肉)
Thursday, December 12, 2013
This morning one of my like-minded friend went on about how easy it is to make your own mayonnaise for an egg mayo sandwich. Said sandwich was so tempting he ate his packed lunch way before brunch hour. Now I'm reminded of this egg salad made quite a while ago by chance. Reading one of Heidi Swanson's many tried and tested recipes and voila, how refreshing it was to find a gem that uses yogurt!
Those of you who
As Heidi put it, the key is not to kill the eggs. Powdery yolks will not work for this application, so keep give sunny center some love and guarded restrain. Set yet still soft. I've learned to enjoy this level of doneness with anything calling for boiled eggs - scattered over fresh greens and lightly dressed with honey mustard, with nasi lemak, or the ever crucial soy sauce marinated syoyu tamago to go with a bowl of hot ramen soup.
The best thing about this discovery - the freedom to experiment with your favorite flavors. Celery is milder than scallions. If you have some shallots lying around, they work too - raw if you're like me, fried will up the umami factor and play down the sharpness. A bit of whole grain mustard, as an ode to the ditched mayo. A dash of smoked paprika for some heat but I bet sumac will be great too. Your creativity being the only limit, an egg salad will never be soggy and boring again!
Best Egg Salad
Recipe modified from this 101 Cookbook's Egg Salad Sandwich.
Yield: If it's up to me, not enough egg salad. This fills about 4 sandwiches.
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 1-2 tablespoons full fat/Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper
- 2 stalks scallions, thinly slices
- 1/2 bunch chives, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for about 6-7 minutes. Immediately place the eggs into a big bowl of ice water for about 3-4 minutes. Crack and peel each egg, place in a medium mixing bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of the yogurt, a few generous pinches of salt and pepper, and mash with a fork. Mix just enough to break down some of the eggs, leaving some bigger pieces for texture. The soft yolks will add to the moisture, add more yogurt only if necessary.
Stir in the scallions, chives, mustard and paprika. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Spread over toasted sourdough or buttery croissant for complete satisfaction.
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- Bak Chor Mee (肉脞面 - Minced Pork Noodle)
- Hakka Salted Egg Steamed Pork (咸蛋蒸猪肉)
- Best Egg Salad
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- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
- Rose Levy Beranbaum's Basic Brioche
- Meyer Lemon Bars
- (A Better) Chocolate Chiffon Cake
- Tiramisu Cake (Encore)
- Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
- Sarawak Kolo Mee
- Hong Kong Part III
- Hong Kong Part II: Zongzi/Bakchang (粽子/肉粽)
- Caffè HABITŪ (the table) at G.O.D. Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
- Hong Kong Part I
- Australia 2010 Part 1: Melbourne
- Bourke Street Bakery, Sydney
- Il Fornaio, St Kilda
- Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne