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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