Pork

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

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Pork shoulders are cheap this week – $6 a kilo at the supermarket, perfect for a tasty budget meal for our homeless friends.

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 cup of corn flour.  I mixed the ingredients well, and 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. I hope our homeless friends enjoyed the dish.

^use a gluten free soy sauce for a GF option.

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 – Asian spiced sausages and rice

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There was a children’s book I used to read to my little boy, called “The Tiger Who Came To Tea”. A tiger went to Sophie house and ate their dinner. So the dad took Sophie and her mum out to a cafe. They had a lovely supper with sausages, chips and ice cream.

‘How could sausages be lovely?’ I asked myself. Having lived in Australia for 30 years, I am yet to develop a taste for sausages.  The trouble is, my husband loves sausages.

So here is my version of sausages, diced, brown with onion and capsicum, spiced with garam, turmeric and mustard oil, cooked with Basmati rice as a one-pot meal.

SONY DSC

 

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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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