I slowly discover that I have complicated things, especially in cooking. Looking back at my recipe archives, most of the recipes involved a lot of ingredients and a million steps to follow, which usually half a day to prepare one dish. What happen to the simple quick toss on the wok? What’s wrong with the simple, clean, uncomplicated flavour with fresh ingredients?
I remember there’s one time, I kindly offered a friend of mine to take some photos of her new born baby as a gift which she happily agreed to let me spend the whole day, taking photos and playing with the cute baby boy. (Trust me, I am good with children even though I despise kids). In returns, she offered to cook me a lunch while juggling between looking after the baby, and house chores. Only then I realised that the lunch was simply a mediocre garlic pork mince patties thingy by using a muffin tray and steamed in the oven, served with steamed rice. Everything was so pale looking and uninviting, I have to admit that I wasn’t that all keen and excited about the lunch when I first saw it. I was an ungrateful bastard to even think like that.
She has proved me wrong. The simple dish had hit all my weak points craving for a home cook meal. As cliche as it may sound, it indeed reminded me of my childhood very much so. Being a non-fussy eater helped, I was easily pleased and quite happy with the steamed pork mince dish and will drizzle some of the juice from the pork all over the steamed rice and call it a lunch before my mum sending me off to school.
One of my resolution this year is about back to basic. I’ll be cooking more simple Chinese Malaysian dishes, with fresh ingredients, something quick and easy to whisk up but most importantly it still taste good. That’s why I started cooking very simple home cooked dishes few weeks back and first thing I realised was how my tastebuds had been brainwashed and influenced by all the sauces and flavourng additives added to the dishes that I’ve been eating all these years. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love all those rich flavour dishes, give me deep fry I’ll say YES anytime, any day! But I am just so surprised that I actually can really taste the purest flavour of the pork and the egg in this simple dish, isn’t that what food is really about? Now go figure why Japanese is serving fish raw.
The steamed pork mince with salted duck egg is a Hakka dish that many Malaysian Chinese would be familiar with. As the Pom is not so fond of the gritty texture of the salted duck egg yolk, so I only used the egg white and mixed into the pork mince. Simple dish is all about fast and no fuss, so if you want the dish ready in no time and all the pork mince cooked evenly, using a shallow wide bowl or plate is the key. That way, as your pour the beaten egg into the mince later, it will fill up all the gaps and nooks in the mince and just enough to cover the top which leaves a soft egg thin layer when cooked.
The texture of the eggs on this dish is not so important like the three emperor egg that emphasises on the silky smooth texture. For this dish, a rough air bubbles surface will do, as we do need those “craters” to capture the juices once cooked. By adding a few tablespoons of water into the egg mixture before pouring into the mince does help to make the egg softer and smoother. And to steam the dish, you can either use a wok and balance the plate on top of a pair of chopsticks over simmering water (my favourite traditional technique) or if you are cooking some steamed rice in a rice cooker to go with the meal, when the rice is cooked and ready on “standby” mode in the rice cooker, you can then place the plate on top of the rice carefully, put the lid back on and let the steam in the cooker to cook the mince slowly until when is dinner time. As it will take a little longer, so make sure you put the mince into the rice cooker at least 1 hour ahead before dinner is served.
Towards the end of the meal, the Pom is a converted man and liking the simple flavour of the dish from the initial, “It is bland and not much flavour”. Well, that’s a first and it is only the beginning…
Steamed pork mince with salted duck egg 咸蛋蒸猪肉 Ingredients 250g pork mince 1 salted duck egg (get rid of the yolk if preferred) 2 cloves garlic chopped (optional) 2 fresh chicken eggs 3 tbsp water 1 tbsp cornstarch 1 tbsp white pepper 1 spring onion stalk (chopped) Sesame oil Soy Sauce Method 1. Mix pork mince, garlic, salted duck egg white (mashed), white pepper, cornstarch together until well combined. Use a shallow dish, spread the mince over the dish to an even thickness. Use fingers and poke into the mince randomly to create craters. 2. Whisk the eggs with water, then pour over the pork mince and let the mixture sip through all the craters into the mince. If there is still a thick layer of egg mixture on top of the mince, use a fork to loosen the mince up a little and let the egg mixture to fill up all the nooks. 3. steam the dish in a wok on medium-high heat over simmering water for 20-30minutes or until it is cooked. 4. Drizzle with sesame oil, and a splash of soy sauce, sprinkle with chopped spring onions and a smidgen of white pepper. 5. Serve hot with steamed rice.