FATHER'S DAY | HAINANESE PORK CHOP

Hainanese Pork Chop is a familiar, household dish to most Singaporeans. Ask anyone to name you three Hainanese dishes, the top answers will likely be

1. Hainanese Chicken Rice

2. Hainanese Pork Chop

3. Hainanese Beef Noodle Soup

This delicacy is an exemplar of a East meets West fusion in the early days of Singapore, whereby Hainanese chefs married five spiced powder, tomato sauce, worchesterchire sauce etc; using what's available in kitchens, hotels and ships owned by the British. Certainly, it has left a significant mark in the country's repertoire of must-try signature dishes.

The pork chop is served in slices, accompanied by sizzling thick red sauce and vegetables on top to keep it moist and saucy. I remembered having the first bite 12 years ago when Daddy Chow brought us for Hainanese Chicken Rice at Golden Mile Thien Kee Steamboat restaurant. Although Hainanese pork chop was served as a side, it caught my attention due to its presentation.

"Aren't pork chop grilled and served as a whole?" I wondered.

Unlike western pork chop, the Hainanese served them in generous thick chunks and they hardly turn soggy in the special sauce. My eyes lit up when I ate it, and totally ignored the chilled chicken. Without holding back, one piece just came after another with one bowl of fragrant chicken rice in hand. Brown on the outside, pinkish white on the inside was the exact combination imprinted in my mind. Better still, they weren't greasy at all. That won my heart!

With all that said, here's my version of Hainanese Pork Chop I cooked for my Dad (who is also a fellow Hainanese). We ate them in a East meets West style, where pork chop was wrapped in romaine lettuce, inspired by Korean BBQ alongside Scottish craft beer as part of our dining experience😁  The aim is to finish this homely pork chop with a same amount of satisfaction but at a reduced calorie intake with the absence of white rice.

Cooking this dish can be an overnight or an hour's affair, depending on how much time is given to marinade the meat for its richness in taste. A potential challenge is to slice up the crusty light brown pork chop, witness the right softness of the meat and guarantee that it is cooked within 3 minutesJust 3 minutes of attention, no distractions, otherwise these pork chop may turn to thick black cardboards and go to waste. 

Oh, just be cautious while flipping the meat over. I learnt my lesson not wearing an apron and ended up with scalding spots on my thighs when the meat just slipped through the chopsticks. *Ouch*

For vegetables, I opted for canned peas and corns instead of frozen ones because the smell and taste of frozen ones were too strong for me no matter how the sauce tried to cover them. 

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Time 1 hour

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 400g pork collar steaks (2 slices, 1/2 inch thick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup corn 
  • 1 large red onion
  • 12 pieces cream crackers (Hup Seng brand) 
  • 2 bunches baby romaine lettuce 
  • 1½  cup vegetable oil for deep frying

Marinate for the chicken

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar 
  • 1 tbsp potato starch with 1.5tbsp water
  • 1 tsp fermented bean paste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp 5 spiced powder

Sauce

  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce/ ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp potato starch mixed with 1.5 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce 
  • 200 ml water 
  • Pepper to taste

Preparation

  • Refer to the same method of defrosting poultry written in the previous blog post.
  • Place cream crackers in a ziploc bag and seal it. Use a rolling pin/ pestle to roll over them into crumbs. Make sure the crumbs are not too fine/ in powder form. Transfer crumbs into a wide bowl and set aside. 
  • Use reverse blunt side of the cleaver or mallet to tenderise the pork collar steaks by pounding it across evenly. 
  • Whisk two eggs in a wide bowl to amalgamate the yolks and whites. Set aside. 

Cooking directions

  • Add marinate ingredients to the pork collar steaks and rub them evenly. If time is not a constraint, put them into a Ziploc bag and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Otherwise, dip both sides of each pork collar steak into the egg wash. Then, coat it with cracker crumbs. Use tip of the fingers to press the steaks in the crumbs to ensure it is evenly coated. 
  • Repeat step for another pork collar steak.
  • Pour vegetable oil into a frying pan over small-medium heat. After 1 minute, drop a few crumbs to test the temperature. If the crumbs start sizzling, slowly slide in one slice of pork collar steak, make sure it is completely submerged. 
  • Fry for 1 minute on each side or until it turns golden. Flip over carefully using a pair of tongs.
  • Turn up the heat and let it fry for 1 minute. This process will lead the pork collar to be less greasy in texture and taste. Set aside pork collars on a kitchen towel in a plate to let it cool. 
  • For the sauce, scoop 2 tbsp of the remaining oil (without crumb debris) used earlier, and add to a separate sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions to the pan and fry for 30 seconds. 
  • Add the peas and corn to the onions, combine well for 1 minute. Turn down the heat slightly, pour in Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, oyster sauce and pepper. Mix well and add water to the sauce. 
  • Let the sauce simmer for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the pork collars with a cleaver about 2cm lengthwise.
  • Add 2 tbsp of potato starch mixture at a time to sauce, swirl the mixture slowly and constantly till it gets thicker. Turn off heat and pour it over pork slices.
  • Serve pork chop with baby romaine lettuce. Wrap two slices of pork chop in lettuce each time.  Enjoy with beer!

Notes

  • After potato starch mixture is added to the sauce, do not stir too much as it will form clumps
  • Once the sauce is done, do not leave it for more than 5 minutes as it forms clumps as well. Add potato starch mixture to the sauce only when pork chop is ready to serve.

Enjoy!Xx

- Ally

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HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY | ROASTED PORK BELLY PIZZA

Roasted pork belly (烧肉) is the ultimate temptation mama chow can never resist. When she heard the crunch of the belly skin while chewing onto the tender belly meat for the first time, she was determined to learn the recipe. Within a few days, she figured out the simplest way to roast it using common condiments in every Asian's kitchen. With her cleaver in hand, she chopped the overnight seasoned, sizzling roasted pork belly along with that sexy crack, crack, crack...we knew she succeeded😁

From that day onward, mama chow always served her roasted pork belly during prayers in all smiles, made batches of seasoned pork belly for my grandma, and shared her recipes to her sisters. Having to share what she loves is a total joy to her. So on this Mother's Day, I'm inspired to learn how to roast that sinful pork belly and serve it as a pizza to celebrate this special occasion. Pizzas are the perfect social food that bonds family over the weekends when everyone has a bit more time. A glass of white wine to pair with pizzas will be an ideal setting for everyone to relax at home and pick up where we left off. However, a pizza dough take hours to set right? What I did was to replace pizza dough with wraps! If you are a thin crust fan like me, you're in good hands😉 

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 12 Mission 6-grain/ original wraps
  • 2kg Pork belly
  • ½ bunch Chinese baby spinach leaves
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 2 onions
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 250g Mozzarella
  • 3 stalks cilantro aka chinese parsley
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 1½ tablespoons sesame oil
  • White pepper
  • Tomato paste (for a red base, optional)

Kitchen Equipment

  • 2 chopping board (for meat and vegetables separately)
  • Cleaver (for slicing pork belly)
  • Vegetable knife
  • Small pot
  • Convection oven
  • 3 skewers
  • Pizza cutter
  • 2 pair of plastic gloves
  • Frying pan
  • Tongs

Preparation

Pork belly

  • Fill up half of the small pot with water, turn on medium-high heat and bring to boil. Gently put in pork belly for 2-3 minutes to kill active bacteria.
  • Scoop up pork belly onto a big bowl and wash it with running water. Set aside and let it cool.
  • Chop garlic into chunks.
  • Put on plastic gloves, slice pork belly into half. Rub garlic, oyster sauce, sesame oil, pepper and curry powder all over pork belly. Make sure every inch of pork belly is evenly coated.
  • *Refrigerate overnight in the middle compartment for the pork skin to dry out. This ensures the sexy crackling to be perfect when you roast it next day. Alternatively, refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Toppings

  • Combine cream cheese spinach leaves together, mix well till it forms a nice paste texture. Refrigerate it.                                                                                                                        
  • Cut onions into half and slice them in thin strips. Peel zucchini in thin strips. Dispose its core and skin. 
  • Chop cilantro into chunks.

Cooking

  • Bring out pork belly and let it sit for 20 minutes, to bring it to room temperature before cooking. Meanwhile, preheat oven at convection setting for 10 minutes at 250 degree Celsius.  
  • Pan fry pork belly on a frying pan over medium heat. Use a pair of tongs to hold and sear each side of the pork belly for 1-2 minutes until it turns sizzling light brown.
  • Turn off heat and set them on the baking tray. Use skewers to pierce and join 2 slabs of the pork belly, make sure it stands on the baking tray.  
  • Insert baking tray on the middle rack in the oven and roast it for 20 mins for the first round. After 20 minutes, check the skin and sides of the pork belly, and insert back into the oven on the top rack to roast it for another 10-12 minutes. 
  • Bring out pork belly and let it cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spread 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese and spinach paste over each wrap. Add zucchini and onion. 
  • Put on plastic gloves and dice roast pork belly. Add diced roasted pork belly on the wraps followed by a generous amount of Mozzarella. Put wraps back into the oven on the middle rack for 5-8 minutes.
  • Use a pizza cut and cut wraps into quarters. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve.    

The significant role Mozzarella plays in merging endless toppings of different gourmet ingredients together, turns every pizza to be undeniably presentable and salivating. Everyone kept asking for more! Alternatively on lazy days, pick up roasted pork belly on your way home and have this delicious pizza ready in minutes!

So give our local must-have delights a twist, instead of having rice to pair with roasted duck or char siew, indulge them in a wrap. 

Here's one of my favourite Chef Adam Liaw's "Quick and Easy" recipe.

Roast duck, cucumber and onion wraps (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber, cut into batons
  • 4 large spring onions, finely shredded
  • 4 Mission Original Wraps
  • ½ cup of Hoisin sauce
  • ½ Cantonese roast duck

Cooking

  • Slice the duck into pieces and remove any bones.
  • Heat the Mission Original wraps according to the packet instructions.
  • Spread a little Hoisin sauce over each wrap and arrange duck, cucumber and spring onion on top.
  • Wrap and serve. 

Happy Mother's Day to all supermums, for being independent, strong, fearless, selfless, fighters from then and now. Mama chow, thank you for being you and I'm extremely blessed to be your daughter.💐😘

Lots of love. Xx

 

24 | FLOUR NOODLES CHICKEN PUMPKIN SOUP

Guess who just turned 24 this week? It’s……….ME💃🏻 There ain’t no confetti, partying or drinking this time, just purely spending quality time with loved ones over scrumptious meals, and feasting on home cook dinners by special ones. It’s a day where blessed wishes from friends made me feel special and valued in their lives. Yet I did feel a sense of guilt when I received birthday messages on my WhatsApp, from people that I have forgotten their birthdays. Truthfully, I am bad with remembering birthdays, maybe I can only remember...let me count…less than 10 people birthdays?😔 I know, it’s awful, but that’s something I should put more attention by checking my Facebook birthday reminder this year. 

Speaking of relishing my birthday joy over scrumptious meals, many of which I ordered were absolutely marvellous and sinful. From wasabi calamari to lobster cheese fries and pork belly yakitori, oh nom nom… I could feel that my food baby had resurfaced in just three days. So I woke up 7am today, got myself running shoes on and ran for a good 3.2km by redeeming myself. The perspiration has indeed sparked off good, positive vibes that encouraged me to feel stronger and healthier on a cheat week. To repair myself after a normal workout session, I will normally prepare chicken pumpkin soup! 

Unlike soups that take 5-6 hours to brew, this warm and comforting bowl takes 2-3 hours-depending on it’s richness. If we aim to savour a thick flavour, the length of time to brew soup over low-heat is key. The trick to serve soup on time for meals while retaining the genuine taste of each ingredient is to stir-fry them before leaving them to slow-cook. If we are serving the soup for dinner, start preparing it early around 3pm. Let it simmer over low heat and we still can get our other things done in the mean time. Dinner still can be ready by 6pm!

Mummy chow and I co-created this hearty chicken pumpkin soup, it is easy and requires 5 steps to complete this dish. This soup serves a balanced amount of protein, anti-oxidant fibre the supports our eye health-especially at this era where we spend long hours on our electronic devices. The diversity of sweetness from the chicken and vegetables married well over hours of slow cooking, and Tuscan herb spice mix was the only herb added towards the end.

In the past, I firmly believed the notion of adding seasonings to enhance flavours of a dish, otherwise everything tastes bland and meh. Then in recent months, seasoning becomes optional when I purchased great quality ingredients and started simple cooking. It is all about simplicity, and that's the key I become more confident in my cooking, and appreciate the natural flavour of each ingredient.

I would say this is an ideal dish for a lazy stay home day also. It serves as a companion whenever I am binge watching episode after episode of iZombie alone in this rather chilly weather🌧🍵😌.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 chicken legs
  • 4 celery sticks
  • Celery leaves (for garnishing) 
  • 200g Japanese pumpkin
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 packet of flour noodles (mee sua)
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame oil

Kitchen Equipment

  • Vegetable knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Chopping board
  • Small pot
  • Big stock pot
  • Ladle
  • Chopsticks

Preparation

  • Fill up half of the small pot with water, turn on medium-high heat and bring to boil. Add chicken legs and let it boil over 2-3 minutes to kill the bacteria active at that time. Scoop up, side aside to cool, and pour away water. It’s an important step for food safety.
  • Peel carrots, pumpkin, celery sticks and onion. Cut them all in thick chunks. 
  • Chopped celery leaves into small pieces

Cooking

  • Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil in large stock pot over high heat. Add carrots, pumpkin, celery sticks and onion. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes till they turn slightly golden brown. 
  • Fill up ½ of the large stock pot with water, add in chicken legs, let it boil for 10 minutes. When the soup brings up to its boiling temperature, scale back the heat and bring it to simmer for 3-4 hours. It ensures even cooking, which gives you more control knowing that the ingredients are all cooking at the same steady rate. 
  • Check on the soup from time to time and give it a stir using a ladle. Make sure all ingredients soften and the colour of the soup has turned from clear to light orange. Sprinkle Tuscan herb spice mix to taste before turn off heat. 
  • Before serving, boil the flour noodles in a small pot. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in each plate. Scoop flour noodles on plate and toss them evenly. 
  • Scoop up 2 ladles of soup and pour over flat rice noodles. Place chicken leg and vegetables over and around the noodles. Sprinkle chopped celery leaves on top. 

Enjoy!Xx

 

SPICE UP YOUR LIFE | MA LA YONG TAU FOO

Life teaches us many lessons. I learnt some and told myself: “don't repeat same mistakes anymore”. But then, there were lessons I still refuse to learn. One of which concerns eating spicy food😜😜  

Speaking of spicy food, the spicier it is, the more appetising to me. When there isn’t a drop of soup nor single noodle left in my bowl, it's a sign of shiok-ness (awesomeness), satisfaction and—normally—spice!😌

Unfortunately, spicy food has never spared me any mercy for my throat and digestive system. Even after years of awful experiences following the notorious McSpicy, I’d tell myself: “A McSpicy won’t kill… it’s okay... my stomach can take this”. Every time I’d step into McDonald’s and order I’d say this to myself and indulge in some McSpicy goodness. Future Alicia is left to deal with the aftermath.

Regrettably, future Alicia normally gets sent straight to the battlefield (toilet) after spicy foods. The odds are not good. 50% of the time: survival😝. The rest of the time: bed-ridden for several days. Still, I can never steer clear of spiciness hehe. However☝🏻, I’m learning (albeit slowly) to be more sensible by managing the spiciness level according to how much my stomach can handle.

I'm a sucker for spicy food and Sichuan ma la (an oily, spicy, tongue-numbing Chinese spice blend which consists mainly of Sichuan peppercorns and chilli peppers) is my biggest craving for dinner despite the unbearable heat these days. So, last weekend mummy chow and I prepared our freshly homemade Yong Tau Foo (a Hakka Chinese cuisine comprising tofu and an array of vegetables stuffed with minced meat or fish paste mixture) with ma la sauce that we bought off the shelf. I believe ma la sauce to be an essential condiment if you like cooking Asian stir-fry. Just a dash the sauce harmonises with any type of meat or vegetable, and makes the dish looks so much more inviting.

The amount of ma la sauce I state in this recipe is for a moderately spicy and slightly savoury taste. I’d recommend accompanying the dish with plain white rice. Stuffing the fish and meat mixture into the vegetables (brinjal, green pepper, red chillies and ladyfingers) is a slightly tedious step, and will require some time and patience—you’ve been warned 😈. However, seeing your whole pot of Yong Tau Foo get polished off in the blink of an eye makes it all worthwhile!

Alternatively, for a quick cook with similar results, get store-bought Yong Tau Fu from an Asian supermarket. Usually a pack include the ingredients I've listed below with fish stuffing.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 200g fish paste
  • 150g minced pork
  • 6 lady fingers
  • 6 red chillies
  • ½ of a brinjal
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 packet golden mushroom 
  • 1 tablespoon black bean mala sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chilli crisps mala sauce
  • 1½ teaspoon Shao Hsing Hua Diao Wine (Chinese rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon corn flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley 
  • 1 slice of dried fish skin (optional)
  • 5 black fungus (optional)
  • 3 bamboo shoots (optional)
  • 1 packet of glass noodles (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted peanuts (optional)

Kitchen Equipment

  • Chopping board
  • Vegetable knife
  • Butter knife
  • Small pot
  • Stock pot

Preparation

  • Fill up half of the small pot with water, turn on medium-high heat and bring to boil. Add in the dried fish skin to soften it and bring out its natural oils. Turn off heat after 5 minutes, then cut the skin into thick strips. 
  • Pour away the water from small pot. Then place in the eggs and cover with more water (cover by about 1 inch). Add in 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to boil over medium-heat, then cover for 8-10 minutes—while they continue to cook.

While the eggs are boiling...

  • Cut away roots of the golden mushrooms,sSoak glass noodles, fungus, and golden mushrooms in a bowl of cold water
  • Combine fish paste and minced pork. Add in pepper, Hua Diao Wine and corn flour. Mix well and set aside.
  • Slice bamboo shoots and brinjals into chunks
  • Cut away stem, calyx and shoulder of green pepper, chillies and ladyfingers. Remove seeds and placenta from green pepper and chillies. Caution: Use a knife to scrap out the seeds, do not touch them (avoid finger burn). Alternatively, wear a glove. 
  • Cut green peppers in quarters. Cut a small opening into the chillies and ladyfingers (for later stuffing).

Back to the eggs...

  • Turn off heat, drain water from small pot, cool the hard-boiled eggs in water, peel then cut into halves.
  • Use a butter knife to push the fish and meat mixture into green peppers, chillies and ladyfingers. As for brinjal, spread it on the surface. 

Cooking

  • Fill up half the Stock pot with water, turn on medium-high heat. Gently pour in all the vegetables, let them cook for 8-10 minutes. The stuffing in the vegetables should turn white and solid before when done.
  • Drain, add in 2 tablespoons of chilli oil from the chilli crisps ma la sauce, turn on medium heat. Add the black fungus, bamboo shoots, fish skin, and glass noodles. Stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
  • Add stuffed vegetables, black bean ma la sauce, chilli crisps ma la sauce and 1/2 cup of water. Mix well, lower heat, cover and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. 
  • Remove cover and turn off the heat. Before serving, sprinkle a generous amount of toasted sesame seeds, peanuts, and chopped parsley. 

Tip: While indulging in this hot and spicy Yong Tau Foo, remember to have a cup of beer/milk to cool down your burning tongue🔥, and tissues for wiping your sweat💦.