Sunday, 17 November 2013

Hainanese Pork Chops As I Remember It

Personally, I feel that one of the greatest inventions by the Singapore Hainanese chefs is Hainanese Pork Chops. From the European households whom most of the chefs worked for, they learnt how to use foreign sauces such as HP sauce, Lea & Perrins sauce, and the wonders of roux as thickener in making sauces.

While the British were used to apple sauce and mustard as accompaniments to their pork chops, the Hainanese substituted these with HP sauce and Lea & Perrins, as they agreed better with their taste buds.

Over the years, Hainanese pork chops would undergo further changes to make it even more appealing to the Chinese rather than the Caucasians. That included the use of ketchup as the key ingredient in the sauce. And bread crumbs or Jacob’s crumbs – one of the original ingredients – also disappeared from the recipe in most restaurants.

The recipe I’m trying to replicate here is much closer to the version I was brought up on in the 60s, the version that was served at most coffee houses and Hainanese restaurants.

Hainanese Pork Chops

Pork chop                                           6 slices, about ¾ cm thick each
Flour                                                    2 cups
Egg                                                      2, lightly beaten
Bread crumbs/ Jacob’s crumbs            2 cups
Oil                                                       3 cups
Potato                                                  2, cut into chunks
Mixed vegetables                                1 cup

Oyster sauce                                       1 tbsp
HP sauce                                             ½ tsp
Pepper                                                 ¼ tsp
Corn flour                                           1 tsp

Butter                                                   3 tbsp
AP flour                                               3 tbsp
HP sauce                                             4 tbp
Lea & Perrins                                       3 tbsp
Meat stock                                           ¼ cup
Pepper                                                 a dash
Salt                                                      ¼ tsp
Sugar                                                   2 tbsp

1.    Use a heavy mallet to break up the muscle fibers of the pork chops.
2.    Rub marinade into the pork and chill for at least 30 mins.
3.    Dust pork chops with flour, soak the meat thoroughly with egg mixture, dust with bread crumbs. Put it aside to rest for 5 minutes. This step will prevent excessive crumbs from falling off the meat during deep frying.
4.    Deep fry pork chops until both sides turn golden brown. Drain off the oil and slice into ½ cm thick. Place it on the serving plate.
5.    Boil potato until it is cooked. Drain and shake off the water completely. This step will create uneven surfaces on the potato, which will give the chips extra crisp. Deep fry the potato chips until golden brown. Drain and transfer to the serving plate.
6.    Pour sauce generously over the pork chops and serve immediately.

1.    Melt butter over medium heat. Saute mixed vegetables for 1 min.
2.    Add flour and cook for another 1 to 2 mins to create a roux.
3.    Add the rest of the sauce ingredients gradually and whisk until the sauce thickens.
4.    The sauce should not be too thick. If it is too thickened, add some stock to dilute it. Adjust the taste with salt and sugar.
5.    Set aside and keep warm.

Friday, 8 November 2013

There’s Nothing Like Oxtail

I have a soft spot for any dish that contains oxtail. Although this animal part seldom sat on my family’s dinner table, I’ve always loved its rich robust flavor. And I’m always on the lookout for it whatever the cuisine. I haven’t had much luck, though, searching for oxtail in Chinese cuisine; I’ve done much better with Malay and western food.

I remember that when I served oxtail at the restaurant I used to own in Hong Kong, it would draw ooohs and aahhs whenever the lid was lifted off the pot, because the space would immediately fill with its luscious aroma.

The following recipe is the one I used in Hong Kong.

Oxtail Stew with Guinness

Oxtail                          750 g
Plain flour                   4 tbsp
Oil                               4 tbsp
Onion                         2, chopped coarsely
Carrot                          2, diced 
Celery                         4 stalks, diced
Potato                         2, diced
Button mushroom     150 g, halved
Salt                              1 tsp
Butter                          2 tbsp
Bacon                          100 g, diced
Garlic                           5 cloves
Shallot                         5
Red wine                     ¼ cup
Tomato paste              3 tbsp
Guinness stout            1 can
Coconut juice              1 cup
5-spice powder           1 tbsp
Lemongrass                 2, bashed
Salt                               1 tsp

  1. Preheat oven at  180 degree C.
  2. Dust oxtail with flour. Brown oxtail with oil. Set aside.
  3. Saute the vegetables and salt with the remaining oil in the French oven for 5 mins. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and sweat the vegetable for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  4. Saute bacon, garlic and shallots with 1 tbsp of butter. Return oxtail to the pot and deglaze it with red wine. Add tomato paste and stir well.
  5. Pour Guinness stout and coconut juice into the pot. Add 5-spice powder and lemon grass.
  6. Put parchment paper directly onto surface of the stew. Make sure parchment paper covers the surface completely.
  7. Cover the lid and bake for 1½ hours.  Add the sauted vegetable and continue to bake for another 30 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and serve.