Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Year Post!

HAPPY DRAGON YEAR, everyone! I didn't know it was New Year until I spoke to my parents over GChat (Heaven blesses Google and its techie convenience)... I thought New Year would be in February. I should keep up with traditions more.

When I was little, New Year was always a bustling family powwow. New Year is the equivalent of Christmas here when families and extended families visit each other. For kids, New Year is THE Mecca of sweet indulgence. This is the one time of the year when parents almost always say "Yes" when a kid asks them if it's okay to get another cookie. Not to mention the extra income earned from "hong bao" - red envelopes, containing money, for good luck. When I was little, hong bao was one of the two ways I could earn enough money to support my comic book collection as well as saving for my parents' birthday gifts (the other being my birthday money).

Because people usually expect a number of visitors (especially when you're an elder), there usually about 5-6 different cookies being served in addition to brunch/lunch foods. Depending on how wealthy the families are, there may be even more treats being served. Regardless, it really is a day when diet goes out of the window and kids get their sugar buzz from high calorie itty-bitty bite sized cookies.

The recipes I'm featuring here today are translated from my mother's recipes for the dishes she made for our New Year family dinner. These are my favorite recipes among many others she made.

Soy sauce pork

1 - 2 lbs side pork, sliced to a size of 3 x 3 cms, 0.5 cm thick
6 - 8 dried shiitake mushroom, reconstituted, and cubed medium
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/3 cup sweet soy sauce
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 - 3 tbs sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbs cooking oil (or substitute with cooking spray)

1. Heat cooking oil on high.
2. Saute the garlic briefly, and fry the pork slices.
3. When pork slices are cooked, add the mushrooms and soy sauce. Stir evenly.
4. Add salt, pepper, sugar, and water. Adjust taste. The taste should be savory sweet but not too sweet (it should be as sweet as the soy sauce).
5. Reduce heat to low. Continue simmering for ~10 minutes, stirring constantly.

1. For this dish, you can use almost any cut of pork, but I do recommend something that has a bit of pork fat in it.
2. If you're substituting with cooking spray, just eliminate the oil altogether, it works just fine. The purpose of the oil is to "fry" the meat.
3. The purpose of the soy sauce here is to give this dish a deep brown, almost barbecued-like color, so add more soy sauce if the color looks to pale. Naturally, adding more soy sauce should reduce the amount of sugar.
4. If you end up choosing to work with pork belly, you may/not decide to keep the skin. I've seen and tasted both version of the dish with/out skin. I, myself, have never cooked it with the skin on, considering I didn't really like skin all that much and my mom never cooked it with the skin on. But it's doable, just that it may take longer to cook.
5. You can eat this with plain white rice. I usually add a bit more water to the dish, so I can use the liquid in it to season my rice. However, in no-way should this dish be soupy.

Seasoned pork satay

2 lbs pork loin, sliced to thin strips 4 x 0.5 cm, 0.2 cm thick
4 pearl onions, peeled (alternatively, 1 red onion, peeled)
4 cloves of garlic
5 pieces of candlenuts
1 tbs coriander powder, toasted
1 cup dark brown sugar
Juice of 3 - 4 key limes
1/3 cup sweet soy sauce
1 cm galangal, grated
1 - 2 tbs salt
1 - 2 tsp pepper

Habanero peppers

1. In a food processor, puree onions, garlic, candlenuts, and habanero peppers.
2. Add brown sugar, key  lime juice, coriander powder, soy sauce, galangal, salt, and pepper to the pureed ingredients, mix well.
3. Add about 3 tbs of water. Stir well, and adjust taste (again this should be as sweet as the sweet soy sauce).
4. From this point on, there are two things you can do:

  • Grilling: marinate the meat strips in the seasoning mixture for 2-3 hours. Skewer the meat strips, and grill.
  • Boiling: skewer the meat strips, place in deep pots (one as deep as pasta pot and is able to submerge all the meat skewers. Add water to cover the meat, and add the seasoning mixture. Let simmer, covered for about an hour, until meat is completely cooked, monitoring the water level and adding water as needed. Adjust taste one final time (add more salt/pepper/sugar), simmer uncovered until water is absorbed.

1. To skewer the meat: pass the tip of the skewer through one end of the meat strip. Wrap the meat around the skewer once and pass the tip of the skewer through the meat again. Keep repeating this until the whole length of the meat strip is wrapped around the skewer and skewered. One skewer can take up to 4 meat strips. Squeeze the satay after you're done skewering to pack the meat even more. 
2. After boiling the meat, you can reheat it by grilling.
3. Galangal is wood-like and hard to cut, be very careful.
4. It's best to make this ahead of time, since it requires long marinating period. My mother used to make this a week prior to our family dinner day and freeze them. They've lasted for a month in my freezer. Plus, this is one of the foods that taste better as you reheat them repeatedly.
5. To toast coriander powder: heat non-stick pan and toast the powder until it's fragrant (1-2 minutes). 
6. Rather than brown sugar, if you have an access to palm sugar, all the better. For palm sugar, use about 1 1/2 - 2 cylinders of the sugar (palm sugar usually comes in cylindrical form, about 6 - 8 cm long and 2 - 3 cm diameter). Shave it first using sharp knife. It's easier to melt/use after shaving.
7. Just as the above recipe, you can eat this with plain white rice. Well, technically you can eat it with anything, just that this dish is so heavy on the seasoning that eating it with something like fried rice will be an overkill.

No comments:

Post a Comment