It’s been a long long hiatus that I’ve taken. I blame Instagram. Grainy photos behind retro-esque filters and uninspired dishes. In any case, I’m hoping this entry won’t be like the last one – the last one for a long while.
So I guess from now, I’ll be using more than a couple of Instagramasised photograph. Fingers crossed that’ll work out well.
Alas! The first of the list is Instant Mee Pok! Mee Pok (translated from Chinese dialect as ‘thin noodles’) is a flat egg noodle used a lot in Singapore to make Fishball Noodles and Mushroom Minced Pork Noodles. They say the first creators of pasta were actually the Chinese; Italians apparently discovered it much later. In any case, Mee Pok is usually cooked fresh and unless you buy them fresh from the market or make them yourself, you won’t get a chance to have them this far from East Asia. But, but, BUT! I stumbled upon a pack of dried instant Mee Pok at Chinatown last week. Well, it isn’t quite exactly the same thing as its fresh counterpart, but I’d say it comes pretty damned close.
I am a happy boy.
(Follow me on Instagram @skinnynigel or #skinnynigel)
This post should have been written months ago during the Lunar New Year season. Reason being this dish is always on the table at the annual family reunion dinner. ‘Leek’ in Mandarin is suan, which sounds just like the equivalent of the word ‘count’. In essence, it’s an auspicious dish to consume during the festival celebrating luck and prosperity. That aside, leek and pork is a lovely combination.
- Cut up the vegetable to thin slices, diagonally. Separating them to loose strands gently.
- Do the same with a carrot, or pass it through the coarse side of a grater.
- Prepare the pork this way.
- In a hot skillet with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, toss in minced garlic and fry till fragrant.
- Add in the vegetables and fry about with a small splash of water. Lower the heat.
- When the leek is almost completely softened, add in the pork.
- Turn up the heat and stirfry everything together by adding water in small quantities, frying till dry-ish each time.
- Adjust seasoning accordingly with light soy sauce.
- Serve with hot steamed rice.
Asian-fried spaghetti of pork cubes, sugar snaps and egg, with cumin, oregano and chilli.
- The usual drill. Set the pasta away to boil in a pot.
- In a hot skillet and a little oil, fry minced garlic till fragrant.
- Toss in pork cubes and sugar snaps.
- Add in crushed cumin and oregano.
- When pork is almost done, move all to the side of the skillet. Add some oil in the pan and crack in an egg. Beat it erratically and let it cook in chunks.
- Toss in sliced chilli.
- Mix everything together and season well with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
- The pasta should be done by now. Drain and add to skillet. Stir everything together into a party of lovely colours.
Pork shoulder fillet braised in garlic, ginger and honey north of carrot and red chilli, served on wilted Chinese leaf.
- In a skillet with some water, make a broth of minced garlic, ginger, soy sauce, carrot and red chilli. When the water comes to a boil, incorporate about a tablespoon of honey, depending on how much broth you’ve made. Taste the broth, it should be a sweetish-salty flavour.
- Set in the fillet of pork and braise till done.
- When the pork is almost done, add in the Chinese leaf and remove all once cooked.
A ballotine, which means ‘bundle’, is a French dish made of deboned meat fish or poultry (sometimes the whole animal) filled with stuffing and then rolled and tied into a bundle. It is roasted, poached or braised, and can be served hot or cold.
In this case, I made a couple of ballotines of pork shoulder and turkey breast, served on a bed of crushed peas and lemon-seasoned chopped peppers.
It’s a great thing that there’s still Christmas turkey left in the fridge, having it with a small bit of cranberry sauce is exquisite. The flavour of the bird having a friendly tug-o-war with the earthy aroma of pork is simply lovely. Not forgetting the fresh crunch of carrot ribbon rolls and subtle sweetness of the vegetables.
It’s amusing, I made a serving of couscous to go along with this; I need my carbs.
Remember Pasta Evolution?
Well, this not for the faint-hearted; it’s incredibly extravagant and unforgivably heart-stopping. Out from the fat rendered from bacon, an Aglio Olio dish is born.
- Same old drill: Set your pasta boiling away in a pot.
- Using a small knob of butter, get the bacon into a skillet.
- Render the fat out before tossing in a generous amount of minced garlic, chilli, dried basil and oregano.
- Toss in sliced pork, which has been marinated with salt and pepper.
- When the pasta is done, drain and add to the skillet. Toss about, coating every strand of spaghetti well.
- Grate Parmesan or Cheddar directly on and mix throughly.
- Serve with fresh basil.
I confess, I am currently obsessed with the ballotine. Rolling meat into a tight bundle and then cooking it makes me happy. It doesn’t help that there is such a sense of excitement when the time is nigh to slice it.
Alright, so maybe pork isn’t so appetising in a ballotine. In any case, a drizzle of sesame oil elevates its flavour immensely. Served with ultra-thin rice noodles, carrot mash and seared lettuce, I am definitely playing with my food.
French-style cooking and Asian flavours, at its best.