Pork

Bacon and cucumber stir fry (gluten free, FODMAP friendly)

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I made a quick meal of cucumbers and bacon in 15 minutes.

I sliced the cucumbers and bacon. In a frying pan I drizzled a little oil and added the bacon pieces. I pan fried the bacon until nearly crispy, then added the cucumbers. A few stirs, added a little sugar and white pepper. And we have a big bowl of tasty veggie and yummy bacon for dinner.

Wonton ‘salad’ with XO Sauce

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Some beautiful people at my husband’s work organised a picnic lunch last weekend.  It was a diverse mix of people – Australians, Germans, Chinese and a few Indian families. A father brought his son and some yummy curry cooked by his wife’s friend.

“Why your wife’s friend cooked for us, a bunch of strangers?” we asked.

“Our Indians always help each other out in the community”, he smiled, ‘my son, for example, lived with his aunt for a few years; and our neighbor had picked him up from school for many years, unpaid of course”.

That sounds lovely, and a dream for many of us.

I live in a suburb in Sydney.  I like the area because it has lots of big trees and the community was warm and welcoming.  Things changed over the past few years with skyrocket housing prices. Moms are now working more hours and the stress spreading in the air.

How I wish we could have a closely knit community who can help each other, or simply having the time to ask each other, “are you ok?”

Wonton salad with XO Sauce

Here is a large wonton ‘salad’ I prepared for the picnic, a dish perfect for sharing.

The dish is somehow Cantonese, spiced with a Hong Kong style XO sauce made with scallop, fish, garlic and chili; yet it is not quite Cantonese as it was served lightly chilled, a cooking style used frequently by Northern China called the ‘liang ban’ (cool-mix).

A video on how to wrap wontons is also attached below.

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Meals for the homeless: stir fry pork with soy sauce, lemon juice, tomato sauce, port wine, turmeric and cumin

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I bought two pork shoulders, which gave me about 3kg of good quality meat after I trimmed off the fat and skin. I marinated the pork slices with dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, lemon juice, tomato sauce,  brown sugar, port wine, turmeric, cumin and white pepper. I also added a few table spoons of corn flour.  I then left the pork in the fridge overnight, covered.

The next day I pan fried the pork in small batches, using a generous amount of cooking oil.  I used the highest temperature possible, so I could achieve an intense ‘dry fry’ texture and taste.  After I finished cooking the pork, I added some saute capsicum slices and saute green shallot (scallion) for colors.

It tasted delicious.

Stir fry pork with soy sauce, lemon juice, tomato sauce, port wine, turmeric and cumin (gluten free option)

Chilled pork hocks with soy sauce and Asian spices (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

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A common style of Chinese cooking is called ‘liangban’ or ‘liangchai’, which means a salad-like chilled dish. The ingredients for these dishes can be very diverse, from vegetables to different kinds of meat including offal.  My husband’s favorite liangchai is Sichuan style liver and tongue. My favorite liangchai is pork hocks.

This week I made a liangchai with pig hocks. It took 2 days, but the process was very simple and easy.

Chilled pork hocks with soy and Asian spices (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

Recipe is as follows:

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Meals for the homeless – pulled pork with plum sauce, Char Siu sauce, dark soy sauce and cumin

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I have been cooking for the homeless feed on some Saturdays.  Trying to cope with work and the endless chores around the house, I was only able to cook simple meals for our homeless friends.

This week I made a simple Asian flavored pulled pork with plum sauce and Char Siu sauce.  I used 5kg of pork shoulder. I first removed the skin and most of the fat under the skin; then I rub the meat with a jar of plum sauce, 1/2 jar of Char Siu sauce,  2 teaspoon of cumin powder and a few generous dashes of dark soy sauce; I marinated the meat in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, I placed pork in a pre-heated 180c (360f) oven for 30 minutes, tightly covered with foil;  after 30 minutes, I reduced the temperature to 160c (320f), cooked the meat for further 30 minutes; then I turned the heat to 140c (280f) for further 2 hours. After that I left the meat in the oven for another 1 hour to settle, before I pulled the meat with 2 forks.

For the sauce, I  mixed some corn flour with water; transferred half of the meat juice to a sauce pan, added the corn flour mixture, brought to a slow boil and stirred briefly as the sauce thicken. I poured the sauce on top of the meat.

We had some for dinner too, with boiled rice – tasted great.

pulled pork with plum sauce, Char Siu sauce, dark soy sauce and cumin

Method is as follows:

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Dumpling party for the school fete – what’s your favorite dumpling folding style?

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I run an Asian food stall at the school fete each year to raise money for the school.  It was load of work  – a whole month of preparation rolling thousands of dumplings; the 2-hour sleep the night before the fete; and the stress about food quality and logistics.

But I loved it. I loved the families who helped to cook and served. I loved the families who enjoyed our food and left great comments on the social media.  It is somehow all worthwhile.

Here is a quick video clip to share – families gathered at our house to wrap 1,000 dumplings a week before the fete.  We then freeze the dumplings, boiled and then pan fried them on site at the school fete.

One pot meal – spiced sausages and rice

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Years ago, my little boy loved a book called “The Tiger Who Came To Tea”.  The story talked about a tiger who visited Sophie’s house and ate all their food. Sophia’s dad took Sophie and her mum out to a cafe, had a lovely supper with sausages, chips and ice cream.

‘How could sausages be lovely?’ my little boy asked.

So here is my version of sausages – a one pot meal with onion and capsicum, spiced with garam masala, turmeric and mustard oil.

SONY DSC

 

Method is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Home style pork spare ribs with soy sauce, wine and vinegar (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

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Pork spare ribs are inexpensive in Sydney, a fraction of the cost of pork ribs.  It is one of the most popular cuts of pork for Asian food, lovely when slow cooked in a rich salty, sweet and sour sauce.

Here is our dinner tonight – pork spare ribs braised in a soy sauce, red wine,sesame oil  and vinegar, with a hint of ginger and cumin.

Home style pork spare ribs with soy sauce, wine and vinegar (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

Recipe is as follows:

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Steamed pork with soy sauce, memories of my aunt Yi-ma(姨妈), and how my mother met my father (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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During the week, we try to make simple meals.  A meal cooked over rice in a rice cooker is ideal for a late autumn evening – warm, comforting and super easy. We enjoy a few glasses of wine while the rice cooker is hard at work.

I cooked some steamed pork in the rice cooker tonight. The dish reminded me my aunt Yi-ma (姨妈)  who cooked an excellent steamed pork dish. My mother met my father during a match making visit between for Yi-ma and my father.   Yi-ma means an aunt from the mother side.

Steamed pork with soy sauce

My mother’s childhood

My mother was an orphan. Her mother was a maid who married her aged master.

In early 1900s, my grandfather was a laborer who went to Malaysia to work on a rubber farm. It was very common those days along the south coast of China. When he returned to China, he bought some farm land and a few houses. He then took a concubine, the maid. His first wife gave him only a daughter and no sons.

The first wife’s daughter migrated to America with her husband. Before my grandfather had his own son, he adopted a relative’s child whose name was Han.

During the Sino-Japanese war the family ran out of money. Grandfather and his wives died under some unspoken circumstance. My mother refused to talk about it. Some relatives said they suffered a great deal of financial hardship as they were not able to collect rents from the land and houses during this period.

During the 1940s, my mother grew up with his brother, living on some cash sent home by the sister in America. The two young children cooked for themselves and cared for each other.

The adopted son, Han, was 20 years older than the children. During the war he was a soldier in the National army. When he returned from the war, he took over all the cash sent from America and rents. The two young orphans was left with no food or resources.  Every day the siblings walked down to the Han’s house to collect some rice and whatever he would give them. Their regular meal was a thin rice porridge (congee). They were always hungry. As a grown up, my mother refused to talk about this man. Every time his name was mentioned, mother was anxious, sad and angry.

Moving to the city

In mid-1950, my mother was about 12 years old. My aunt Yi-ma’s family needed domestic helps and took my mother into their home. They were remote relatives from my mother’s side. Mother was grateful to them despite that she didn’t enjoy the chores, like getting up 5am in the morning to cook breakfast.

A few years later, she was accepted by a selective high school and could not come up with the few dollars for school fee each year. Mother was devastated when the family told her that they didn’t have the resources to support her education.

My mother (left) and Yi-ma (aunt) at the roof top terrace of yi-ma's apartment
My mother (left) and Yi-ma (aunt) at the roof top terrace of yi-ma’s apartment

A young and beautiful maiden full of dreams

Young and attractive looking, my mother applied for an actress position which she was rejected because she was not sufficiently tall. Utterly disappointing, she found a job as a childcare worker which she thoroughly enjoyed. Her role was shortly made redundant and the position was offered to a relative of an official.

Mother became a factory hand in a wireless factory.  She made many new friends. In later years, I observed her interaction with her friends, I could not help wondering if some of her male friends were once her admirers.

With the ambition to migrate to the U.S. to join her elder sister, my mother refused to have a relationship. When she was 28 years old, her sister passed away.  Mother’s dream was shuttered again.

How my mother met my father

In the late 1960s, a young and bright engineer and his family were living two blocks away from Yi-ma’s apartment.

My grandmother was a friend of Yi-mas mother. They organised a match making 相亲 to introduce my aunt to my father. The introduction (相亲) did not go well – the young man stepped inside the apartment, and decided he wanted the other good looking maiden instead. Mother was visiting Yi-ma that day.

That’s how my mother met my father.

Married life

The young couple dated briefly, and happily married. They had many photos of happy times, sitting in the park with sweet smiles, and holding each others’ arms.

The happy time ended when I was born. My father was sent away to the countryside to work for another factory.  He visited us for 10 days each year at Chinese new year, and occasionally dropped in for a few days while he passed through for work.  My mother’s dream of marrying an educated man and living a comfortable life was shuttered. My father was not entitled to any accommodation in the city. We all cramped into a terrace house with my grandparents, uncles and aunt and their families.

When my father returned to the city, it was 13 years later.

My mother and father
My mother and father in late 1960s

 

Aunt Yi-ma

Yi-ma married a nice man with a gentle soul. He was a senior official in the foreign trade inspection office. We called him ‘Yi-zhang’ (姨丈), meaning an uncle from the mother side.  In his official position, Yi-zhang received gifts all the time – fruits, cookies to expensive Chinese liquor in fancy bottles. Yi-zhang didn’t drink. So it didn’t bother him that some liquor turned moldy in unopened bottles – they were fake and most likely filled with tea.

Beside free gifts, they were quietly well off. Yi-ma’s brother died during the Korean War. All the family assets went to Yi-ma, including a sizable portfolio of real estate and stocks in Hong Kong.

Knowing our limited financial resources, Yi-ma was always generous to us. Every year at the Chinese New Year she always gifted me a handsome amount in a red envelope.  She gave me my first $1 note. In early 1970s, $1 was a fortune to a little girl.  Unlucky for me, my mother confiscated the money, saying that she would have to provide red envelopes to other children so she must recycle the cash.

Yi-ma and Yi-zhang were the first family we knew to own a color TV and a fridge.  They often invited us over for meals, cold jelly, special goodies or simply when they cut open a watermelon.  Their most tasty dish was the steamed pork, cooked in a little metal dish on top of the rice, juicy, sweet, salty and delicious.

My steamed pork

I cooked some steamed pork tonight, just like how Yi-ma used to cook it.

Recipe is as follows:

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Grandmother’s fried pork cracklings, warm rice with pork fat and soy sauce 豬油豉油撈飯 (low FODMAP)

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I cooked some cracklings tonight, the way my grandmother cooked them a long long time ago.

Grandmother's pork crackling, warm rice with pork fat and soy sauce

When I was growing up, pork fat was a rare delicacy. Meat was rationed. It was difficult to imagine that one would waste the precious coupons on pork fat instead of good cut of meat.

My grandmother was an extraordinary woman, always working, never complaint and never indulged herself, except, she loved pork fat. Occasionally she took me to the food market across the street and bought a small slap of pork fat with skin. She cut up the meat, then pan fried the pieces in a wok over the coal stove.

The pan frying turned very quickly to deep frying. She scooped out the oil and stored it in a little black urn. The black urn sat on a rotten timber shelf, up high and away from the cats, looking like a treasure pot.   In the wok, the pork pieces eventually turned into golden delicious cracklings which we shared with the whole extended family of about 10 people.

Over the next few days, grandmother and I enjoyed hot boiled rice with pork fat for lunches, flavored with a dash of soy sauce. My grandmother called it ‘lou fan’ meaning ‘mix the rice’. These were some of the most delicious meals I ever had.

Grandmother's coal stove - grandmother's pork cracklings, pork fat with boiled rice and soy sauce
My grandmother’s coal stove

I still remember our kitchen. The walls were never painted, darken by the smoke from the coal cakes.  The small earthy stove was among piles of coal cakes, which we purchased from a small shop at the end of our lane way.  From very young age, I helped to carry the coal cakes home, a few at a time, on top of a small timber slab.  Our house cats slept on top of the coal cakes during winters for the warmth from the stove, waking up in the morning, looking filthy. The cats were working cats and expected to fetch most of their own food (rats). They ate scraps from the family meals, most of the time it was just some rice, vegetables and sauce. Unloved and hungry, they had anxious looks in the eyes that I could never forget. They had a hard life.

Today, we have shiny appliances in our kitchen and beautiful stone splash back. We have a beautiful dog in our household which we dearly love. He enjoys his home cooked meals with all the goodness.

As I enjoyed the meal, I really appreciate what we have today.

Recipe is as follows:

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Pulled pork with pineapple, soy, vinegar, spices and maple syrup (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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I recently purchased a Tiger thermal magic cooker from Singapore. It is really a magical piece of equipment –  perfect for slow cooking with limited use of the stove top. I made some pulled pork for dinner last night  – it was slow cooked over 24 hour, juicy and yummy.

The thermal cooker consists of 2 layers – an inner pot and an insulated outer pot. I first placed the pork shoulder in the stainless steel inner pot; I topped it with some pineapple pieces with all the juices^, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of soy sauce*, 1/4 cup of dark soy sauce*, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of wine, 6 cardamon pods (slightly crashed), 6 star anise, 1 tsp cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, a piece of ginger (approx 15g) and 1 tsp pepper corn (slightly crashed).  I then added some water to fully cover the meat, brought it to boil.  Once boiling,  I placed the pot into the insulated outer pot for 8 hours.

After 8 hours, I brought the inner stainless pot to boil again on the cook top – it took about 5 minutes as the pot was still hot from being inside the thermal pot. Then I placed it inside the insulated outer pot again for another 8 hours. I repeated this one more time. And it was ready to enjoy.

To serve, I hand pulled the pork to strips. I made a sauce with some marinate, added some maple syrup and some corn flour mixture  (corn flour mixed with a little water). I brought the sauce to boil and it was ready.

If you don’t have a thermal cooker, you can slow cook the pork in a heavy pot, or slow cook in an oven with an oven bag – juicy and yummy.

^use fresh pineapple for a FODMAP diet (as it is tested by Monash University)  *use a gluten free soy sauce for a gluten free option.

Pulled pork with pineapple, soy, vinegar, spices and maple syrup  (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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Pork spare rib stew with miso, ginger and wine 味噌排骨 (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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On WeChat my ex high school mates were chatting about not having time to cook dinners. Really? I thought, surely a few equipment could help.

In addition to a standard kitchen, I have a double garage filled with cooking equipment – a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, a waffle maker, a table top multi-use grill, a mixer, a blender, a Tiger magic thermal pot, a 16 liter thermal pot, a five deck steamer pot, a 3-deck electric mini steamer, 3 electric frying pans, a portable induction cook top, 2 electric bain-maries and countless pots, cake tins and serving plates. Cooking a quick dinner is a breeze.

Before I continue on, I’d like to declare that I am not a hoarder. I run the Asian food stall each year for the school fete and I always contribute a bundle towards special event bakes. Hence I have accumulated so much useful equipment over the years.

Tonight I cooked a quick dinner with my pressure cooker. In the morning, I put some rice in the rice cooker and switch on the timer. I then spent 10 minutes browning the pork spare rib pieces, added carrot, potato chili, ginger and white wine. I turned the pressure cooker on high pressure 30 minutes. When I got home, dinner was ready and warm.

Easy peasy.

Pork spare rib stew with miso, ginger and wine 味噌排骨 (low FODMAP, gluten free)

 

Recipe is as follow:

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Steamed pork and fennel dumplings 豬肉韭菜餃子

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A school mum gave me some fresh fennel and taught me how to make pork and fennel dumplings,  a popular dish from Northern China.

Steamed pork and fennel dumplings 豬肉韭菜餃子
Steamed pork and fennel dumplings 豬肉韭菜餃子
Steamed pork and fennel dumplings 豬肉韭菜餃子

Recipe is as follows:

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South sea meat and bone soup (bak kut teh,肉骨茶)

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My best friend’s late mother, whom I dearly called Auntie Wong, used to make this herbs and spices infused soup for me. The wonderful aroma filled their small inner city apartment and floated down the narrow common corridor as I walked out the lift. I instantly felt at home, safe, warm and loved.

Besides being a fantastic cook, Auntie Wong was an amazing woman with many talents. Once a circus acrobat in Malaysia, she was retrained as a dentist. ‘It was so difficult at the beginning,’ she said, ‘there was this old lady with no teeth, and I could not figure out how to attach the denture.’ She grinned, ‘lucky that I was young and good looking at the time. I had lots of helps.’

Here is my simple meat and bone soup, with fond memories of Auntie Wong. Somehow my soup never tasted as good as Auntie Wong’s. She had added a lot more love to the soup.

South sea meat and bone soup (bak kut teh,肉骨茶)

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Century egg and smoked ham congee

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What could be more tummy warming than a big bowl of congee?

One of my favorite congee is with century eggs. If you had not tried a ‘century egg’ before, they are probably the most fascinating eggs you would ever experience. After a period of preservation, the egg yolks are magically layered with green and gray, and the egg white are translucently red-brown and beautifully shiny. The congee is traditionally made with century eggs and salted pork. I often use smoked ham which is tastier.

Century eggs with smoked ham - for congee

I use a 10-cup rice cooker with a ‘congee’ setting. I cook the congee on the ‘congee’ setting 3 times, first time with a cup of medium grain rice and water half way up in the cooker, then I add 2 century eggs (sliced to 4-8 pieces) and diced smoked ham, cook it 1-2 more settings or until the rice is creamy. Feel free to add more water to achieve the right consistency to your own liking.

If you use a pot, it would take 2-3 hours.  First bring the rice and water to boil, turn it down to low heat, cook for 1 hour (with a lid), then add century eggs and ham, cook for another 1-2 hours until the it reaches the desired texture.

Season with salt and white pepper. Garnish with green shallot.

Really yum if you are game enough to try it.

Century eggs and smoked ham congee

Recipe is as follows:

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Lemongrass pork scotch fillets (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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We have a bush of lemongrass in the garden. Each harvest we were reward a large bag of juicy stalks. So today I made some grilled pork with lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leafs, fish sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil.

There are still so much lemongrass left!

Lemongrass pork scotch fillets (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Ginger pork with soy sauce and sesame oil (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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Recently our family visited Tokyo to spend our school holiday there. We enjoyed shopping at countless hobby shops, toy stores and rides at Disneyland, Disney Sea and Tokyo Dome.

My husband and I love noodle soups. Nearly everyday we went to a nearby noodle shop for lunch. Our little boy is a fussy eater who has Vegemite sandwiches for school lunch since the kindergarten year – he refused to have noodle soup. So we gave him a bowl of rice and the toppings from our noodles.   Ginger pork was his favorite. Luckily, noodles with ginger pork was available in nearly every noodle shop.

Here is my version of ginger pork. I served it with some saute Chinese greens with ginger.

 

Ginger pork with soy sauce and sesame oil (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Asian style kebab on lemongrass stick (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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With winter coming, I cut back a bush of lemongrass in the garden. I ended up with a huge bunch of lemongrass sticks which I used for this pork and beef kebabs.

Asian style kebab on lemongrass stick (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Sticky rice with Chinese sausage and mushroom

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When I was a little girl, sticky rice was such a treat – we would only enjoy it on special occasions such as weddings or festival seasons. It is probably because it takes extra efforts to fry glutinous rice ?

Sticky rice with Chinese sausage and mushroom

Recipe is as follows:

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Spicy green beans

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This is a simple dish with chili bean paste and pork or chicken. It can be served in 20 minutes – it is salty, sweet and spicy.

Spicy green bean with soy bean paste

Recipe is as follows:  Read the rest of this entry »

Easy pulled pork with mustard and strawberry jam

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Oven bag is fantastic to make pulled pork – it keeps the pork really moist and juicy. Fruits are often used in Korean cooking – fruits provide natural sweetness and tenderize the meat.

My pulled pork shoulder (1.25kg) this week has mustard (1tbs), strawberry jam (2tbs), soy sauce (1tbs), port wine (2tbs) and salt to taste. I put all ingredients in a oven bag, baked in a preheat oven for 30 minutes at 180c, then reduced temperature to 160c for 30 minutes; followed by 100c for 1 hour.

For dinner, I served the pulled pork with cabbage and rice; for lunch the next day, I served the pulled pork in a tortilla with mozzarella cheese, really nice.

Pulled pork with mustard and strawberry jam

Pulled pork tortilla
Pulled pork tortilla

 

Recipe is as follows:  Read the rest of this entry »

Korean BBQ

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At work, I sit next to a Korean lady who told me about this specialty Korean butcher at Homebush (Sydney) with marinated ready-to-BBQ meat.  Today was my day off and I managed to leave all the chores behind, drove 15km to visit the butcher. I picked up three different kind of marinated meat – beef knuckle bulgogi, grain fed pork steak and chili pork. At home, I already marinated some thinly sliced beef topside over night. I can wait to taste them all.

The picture speaks for itself – all so yummy !

SONY DSC

 

 

Green bean noodles (粉皮) with Sichuan chili soybean pork

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A couple of years ago a school mun made a green bean sheet dish for the school food festival. It tasted really nice with a wonderful texture. So I said to myself that I would make it one day. It took me two years to get around it – well, better now than never.

Here is my spicy green bean sheet with pork. The pork is minced and stir fried with Sichuan chili soybean paste  (豆瓣酱) and sweet soybean paste. The style is ‘liang ban’ which means the dish is lightly chilled after the cooking is completed.

 Green bean noodles (粉皮) with Sichuan chili soybean pork

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Brown rice congee with salted pork & peanuts (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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For a Chinese southerner, what food can be more warm and comforting than a hot bowl of pork congee (粥)?  The humble congee is the sort of food kids get when they are sick.  It is also a popular street food and you will find it at ‘yum cha’. Coogee goes well with fried noodles, Chinese donuts and it is delicious by itself. You can eat it with the thick & bulky Chinese ceramic spoon, or raise the bowl to your lips and slurp it.

If you’d like to have a go at cooking your own congee, a pressure cooker is highly recommended, otherwise it takes hours.

Here is my lunch today, brown rice congee with salted pork and peanuts.

Brown rice congee with salted pork & peanuts (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Twice cooked pork with chili soy bean sauce (Hui Guo Rou 回锅肉)

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This twice cooked pork is aromatic, juicy and can be seriously spicy. My friends told me, as they walked down to my house for dinner, they could smell the cooking from the top of the street. This dish is so tasty and satisfying with a bowl of rice, or a few freshly steamed ‘Man Tou’ (plain steamed buns).

Twice cooked pork with chili soy bean sauce (Hui Guo Rou 回锅肉)

I have posted the ‘Man Tou’ recipe here.

Recipe is as follow:  Read the rest of this entry »

Vietnamese pork kebab (Nem Nuong) on noodles, salad and fresh herbs

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A lady who worked with me in the same company some years ago is also a mum at my little boy’s school.  She helped serving Asian food at the school fete and saw the mountain of food sold out in an hour or so.  ‘Next year’, she declared, ‘I will bring my husband and a grill to serve Vietnamese pork kebabs.’

At my work, I sit next to a young Korean lady, across from a Malay, a Vietnamese, an Irish and a Russian. So I took the advantage and asked about the pork kebabs. The best pork kebabs, I was told, was from an old lady at Cabramatta in Western Sydney who takes orders during the week and delivers the kebabs with a delicious peanut sauce via a fruit shop on Saturdays. She will be there for 2 hours each week, and she does not speak any English.  Now, that would be a problem, as I can’t speak Vietnamese.

So I went on continuing my research efforts. Weeks later my little boy had a play date with Ben. It so happens that Ben’s mum is the best friend of Sue whom I had crossed path at my work last year.   I caught up with Sue for coffees and found out that she is a third generation Chinese grew up  in Vietnam, and she lives nearby.  ‘No need to go to Cabramatta’, she said,’ there is a butcher shop just 10 minutes from your house, and it sells very good pork kebabs”.

Here we go, I finally found the pork kebabs today. I grilled them and serve them on a bed of bean sprouts, rice noodles, pickled carrot, mint and coriander; then I poured over a fish sauce mixture (nuoc nam).  Tasted so good & nearly no recipe required.

Vietnamese pork kebab (Nem Nuong) on noodles, salad and fresh herbs

 

Recipe is as follow:

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Deep fried rice balls with kimchi, spicy pork and panko crumbs

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I like Kimchi, I like gochujang, I like rice, and I like pork – roll them up in a ball with crispy panko crumbs,deep fried and you will get these irresistible rice balls.

Deep fried rice balls with kimchi, spicy pork and panko crumbs

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Soy braised pork belly with bamboo shoots (gluten free)

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For Chinese cooking, pork belly is arguably one of the most popular cut of pork – it is juicy, full of flavor and mouthwatering fatty. It can be stir fried, steamed, boiled, braised, preserved/dried & roast. This pork belly dish was originated from a traditional dish called  ‘red braised pork’. It so happened that I have a jar of spicy bamboo shoots in the pantry. Bamboo shoots go so well with pork and  I added a few table spoonfuls to the pork belly.

Soy braised pork belly with bamboo shoots (gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Mung bean vermicelli with pork, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf (gluten free)

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My kaffir lime shrub is doing very well in the garden this year despite the (relatively) cold & wet winter. So I decided to cook a dish with some kaffir lime leaves. I have some mung bean vermicelli in the pantry. I love mung bean vermicelli – it can be used in so many dishes – prawn hot pot, vegetarian stew, soup… wonderful texture and doesn’t soak up too much sauce. Karfir lime leaves add extra layer of flavor to this noodle dish.

Mung bean vermicelli with pork, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf  (gluten free)

 

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Pork and bok choy dumplings with home made rice and tapioca wrappings (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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Our friend Bill has gut problems and is on a low FODMAP diet. He posted on facebook today, saying “I am sick of being sad; and sad for being sick”.  To lift his spirit, we invited Bill over for some food.

I made some steamed rice flour and tapioca dumplings with pork and bokchoy.

Pork and bok choy dumplings with home made rice and tapioca wrappings (fodmap friendly, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Egg ‘pancake’ with Asian style meat balls, vegetables and fish sauce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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I bought some minced pork from the local butcher early this afternoon with the intention to make some Low FODMAP dumplings. By the time I get around processing the mince with bok choy as filling, I was getting quite hungry and fancied something a bit more substantial.  So here is the afternoon snack / dinner – really nice with a Vietnamese fish sauce.

Egg 'pancake' with Asian style meat balls, vegetables and fish sauce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:   Read the rest of this entry »

Pork belly with Chinese dry mustard greens (Mei Cai Kou Rou 梅菜扣肉)

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Pork belly with Chinese dry mustard greens (Mei Cai Kou Rou 梅菜扣肉)

When I was a little girl, my grandmother often sent me to the market across the road to get groceries. At the market, there were urns of soy sauce, slabs of tofu, loads of vegetables, a fish stand and a pork stand.  When it was my turn at the butcher’s stand, with his huge chopping cleaver in his hand, he looked down to me and asked loudly: ‘soup or for stir fry’. I looked up and quietly said: “kou rou’. He would then cut me a small piece of pork belly and tight it with a bamboo string as I handed over coupons and money.

A Chinese butcher at the market
A Chinese butcher at the market

I still remember how the bundles of dry ‘Mei Cai’, or salted Chinese dry mustard greens, hanging from the bamboo racks at the markets. There were preserved greens as well, being fermented in large brown urns. In the good old days, ‘mei cai’ was popular in China – it was cheap and can be use with so many dishes. If one ran out of money, ‘mei cai’ and boiled rice was considered a far superior option than soy sauce and boiled rice.

Here is one of my grandmother’s favorite dish – ‘mei cai kou rou’, or pork belly with Chinese dry mustard greens.

Recipe is as follows:  Read the rest of this entry »

Tofu skin rolls with chicken, bamboo shoots and Chinese mushrooms 鮮竹卷 (gluten free)

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This is a popular Cantonese dim sim dish found in most yum cha restaurants, often steamed and sometimes vegetarian. My version is first steamed then pan fried for extra flavor.

Tofu skin rolls with chicken, bamboo shoots and Chinese mushrooms 鮮竹卷 (gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Pie tees with jicama, carrot, pork and dried shrimps

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A traditional Nonya (Malay-Chinese) food, these cute & crispy little cups got me wondering… hmm.. what goodies can I fill them up with?

In Singapore the pie tee cups are available in sealed plastic jars from supermarkets – but we don’t have such luxury in Australia. So I bought a brass pie tee mould online from the U.K. and made my own pastry. For the filling, I stirred fry some graded jicama & carrot, minced pork and oyster sauce. Then I topped the pastry cups with fried shrimps and shallot. It was really tasty.

Pie tees with jicama, carrot, pork and dried shrimps

Recipe is as follow:  Read the rest of this entry »

Mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐), and my father’s story of two spoonful of oil

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Mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐), and my father's story of two spoonful of oil

The province of Sichuan in China is famous for its taste bud killing pepper corn & spicy food.  One of their most famous dishes is the ‘mapo tofu’, sometimes translated as the ‘pockmarked grandma’s bean curd’.

When my father was a young lad, he attended a university far away from home. Ever since then, he developed a strong desire for traveling. After graduation, he worked for a state-owned factory with a starting salary of 51 yuan a month. He did not have the money to travel other than travelling for work.

One year, he was fortunate enough to be sent to Sichuan for a research project. He asked my grandmother for an oil coupon.  Those days most essentials were scarce and required coupons. When he arrived, he took the coupon to a well-known local restaurant and ordered a big bowl of mapo tofu. ‘The tofu was so good,’ he said to me, still with great enthusiasm, ‘ it had two spoonfuls of oil in it.”

A young traveler, somewhere in the Nortern China
A young traveler, somewhere in the Northern China

I have had many mapo tofu dishes over the years – they all seemed to be overly oily. But I liked them just like that  – I soaked up the oil with boiled rice. I could feel  my father’s joy and excitement as a far-away-from-home young traveler.

Recipe is as follows:   Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese traditional steamed pork ‘cake’ 蒸肉餅 (gluten free)

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My old aunt & my cousin are coming over for lunch today.  My aunt can’t cook much any more, so I am cooking them a traditional Chinese meal.  No other meat could be more traditional than pork. I remembered that my old aunt had a secret for all good Chinese pork dishes – ginger, shallot, soy & wine.

Chinese traditional steamed pork 'cake' 蒸肉餅 (gluten free)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »