MEATBALLS SPINACH PORRIDGE

Tried and tested. Twice this time! A year ago, spinach rice porridge with meatballs was added to my list of Asian home cook recipes. It is dead simple and power-up meal to make for family. The Chow family name it the Popeye's porridge. When I was young, Popeye the sailor man was one of the cartoon series I was hooked. Gone were the days when I binge watched Popeye's video tapes during school holidays, episode after episode. So Mummy Chow took the chance to name this rice porridge after Popeye and convinced us to each finish two bowls of spinach porridge which supposedly help us grow stronger and smarter like Popeye.

Her brilliance works. I actually believed what she said and asked for more than two with the urge to become stronger to wrestle with my dad. Imagine 5 people could finish 4 cups of white porridge! All in all this recipe has been stuck in my head for 20 years, and the second time making this pot of goodness was different than the original. 

Instead of using Thai Jasmine Rice (which most Asian families consume as a staple), red rice was used to achieve a nutty flavour in the rice porridge. The unpolished grains is rich in fibre due to the bran, and it helps fight asthma (a problem I encountered in my late teens), reducing fine lines on the skin, firms up skin and minimise the damage brought on by our day to day exposure to UV rays. A natural anti-wrinkle remedy isn't it? 

century egg and salted egg.jpg

Oh, the final touch to this pipping hot porridge is the natural salt from 4 big heroes: century egg, salted eggs, braised peanuts and fried anchovies. They go beautifully well to sweeten the rice porridge, and there's no need extra seasoning was added to the porridge towards the end.  Each of them has a distinctive fragrant and taste. Let any Asian do a blind taste test, they will identify them quickly, anytime. Also, I like my anchovies to be slightly on the dark brown side, with a charred taste but absolute crisp. 

Staring at the sizzling rice porridge under over hot fire is one of the kitchen frustrations when the stomach starts shouting for attention. The stare down lasted for 20 seconds, just 20 seconds will do. With the risk that my tongue might get burn, I slurped the porridge gingerly and served myself the first bowl with a huge portion of fried anchovies.

* One trick to prevent yourself from a burning sensation on the tongue, simply use a porcelain spoon to scoop the corner of the porridge in a clockwise direction, the temperature is just right to taste this porridge without having to gently blow it. If there is any leftover, keep it in an air tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Heat it up over high heat and the result is no less than before.

Ingredients ( serves 4)

  • 1 cup red rice
  • 2 salted egg
  • 1 century egg
  • 10 stalks Chinese round spinach
  • 200g minced pork
  • 1 can braised peanuts
  • 3 tbsp ikan bilis (anchovies) 

To marinade meatballs

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½  tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp corn flour

Condiment

  • Fried baby ikan bills (anchovies)

Preparation

  1. For pork balls, combine the seasoning with the minced pork and mix it with a tablespoon to form a huge ball in a bowl. Slam the ball of minced pork 5 times to get the QQ texture. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and refrigerate it for 20 minutes. Scoop 1 big teaspoon of meat and roll them to balls in between palms. 
  2. Pluck spinach leaves and set side. Pluck away root of the spinach, and break the stem in three parts.
  3. To remove the clay and rice husk from the century egg, rub the surface off the egg in its plastic bag. The coating will break slowly and you’ll be able to see the white shell without making your hands dirty. Then, take the egg out of the bag and rub the surface gently while rinsing it under water till the clay has been fully removed.
  4. Gently crack the egg on the edge of a hard surface (a bowl, or the sink) and peel the shell. 
  5. Repeat step 3 when handling salted eggs. Crack open salted eggs and separate yolks from egg white into 2 bowls. Cut salted yolks 
  6. Slice century egg in small chunks and set aside.

Directions

  1. Pour red rice on a strainer and wash the grains thoroughly. Drain the grains, pour into a small stock pot and filled with it up with 6 cups of water. Set it to boil over medium heat for 20 minutes. 
  2. Check the hardness of red rice after 20 minutes, if it is still hard and starts drying up, add another two cups of water and let it boil for another 10 minutes. 
  3. While porridge is boiling, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil onto frying pan (sunny side up size) over medium heat for 1 minute. Add ikan bilis and fry for 5-7 minutes or until they turn golden brown and crispy. 
  4. Once red rice has soften, add spinach stems and meatballs in the center. Scoop porridge on the outer corner inwards to cover pork balls and spinach. Close lid and let it simmer for 6-8 minutes. 
  5. Open the lid and add spinach leaves, century egg and salted eggs. Add braised peanuts from the can only, dispose the sauce away. Turn down the heat and stir porridge gently to combine. 
  6. When salted egg chunks have turned light orange, pour salted egg white to the porridge. Gently stir porridge for 30 seconds once the egg white swirls are formed. Turn off heat immediately. 
  7. Serve porridge in bowls and sprinkle fried ikan bilis on top. 

Enjoy! Xx

- Ally

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