Sunday, 28 March 2010

Lap Cheong 臘腸 - Chinese dried sausage

Stored bought lap cheong in UK are really tasteless, I don't really know why. I had tried so many brands and never find any I really like. It's such a shame good lap cheong from the far east are banned from import and carrying them yourself through custom. I don't buy UK lap cheong too often because they are expensive too about £5 - 7+ for a pound of meat.

Making my own lap cheong (Chinese dried sausages) had been on the to do list for a very long time. I got some synthetic sausage skin for a while starring at me everytime I opened the cupboard. I finally plucked up the courage and made some. I had avoided making them because I was too scared to poison myself. Having made my own bacon (not Chinese) for a while now I have more confidence to venture into other cured meats.

I don't have a sausage stuffing machine, so my stuffing method was very primitive with just a standard funnel and a stick as a plunger. Stuffing machine can be expensive, I don't want to buy one without the confidence to make more again.

I like lap cheong with tiny chunks of fat and meat bind together. Hand cut meat lap cheong 切肉蠟腸 are more expensive in the Far East and taste better IMO. So I hand diced the meat very fine. Coarse mincing will be my second choice if I want to save time. Avoid using store bought minced (ground) pork because they can be contaminated during processing and sitting on the shelf for hours or even days.

I have been toying with either drying the sausages in the oven for few days at low temperature or natural air drying. To turn the fan oven for days can have consequences: 1. It can cost a bit on the electric bill and 2. With the oven operating at low temperature for such a long time may damage it and this is not the expense I would envisage. So in the end I decided to risk it and dry the sausages naturally in ventilated area. I took them outdoor during the day when the weather is dry and airy. At night I hung them in my kitchen next to an open window.

I think the addition of cure salt is essential. Cure salt helps the meat to cure properly and avoid the danger of contamination and causing botulism. I bought this cure salt from US so the concentration is to US standard. Do measure cure salt accurately.




For the ingredients and recipe:


400 - 500g pork fat
1.25 kg lean shoulder pork (can also use leg meat)
10g salt
1/2 cup light soy
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Chinese rose wine (mei kwei lu) or Shaoshing wine
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp 5 spice powder
5g #2 cure salt (#2 Prague powder)

sausage skin (natural or synthetic)

Other tools I used:
funnel and stick for stuffing the sausage
needle to prick the sausages to release trapped air
scissors to cut the skin and string
some cotton or butcher strings for tying the sausages
wire cloth hanger to hang and dry the sausages.


Method:
  1. Coarsely ground or finely chopped the pork fat and lean meat. I hand chopped (very finely diced) the meat you can use a mincer machine.
  2. Then thoroughly mix the pork with the seasoning mix, best use hand you can wear gloves if you want. Put the meat in the fridge overnight.
  3. Then stuff into sausages. I used a thin 21cm synthetic skin. I used a funnel and a wooden stick as plunger. Took me sometime. The sausages are in pairs and tied with a string in the centre.
  4. Hang the sausages. I used a wire cloth hanger which worked really well.
  5. Leave to dry in an airy place to dry. I had left it dry outdoor during the day and brought back and hang in the kitchen at night.
* It is essential to ensure good hygiene while processing the meat, stuffing and drying the sausages. Keep everything as clean as possible.

Review so far:
  • So far the sausages have been drying really well. No sign of spoilage at all. The smell was lovely and strong with the marinade day 1 and 2. After day 3 -4 the sausages had shrivelled and dried quite a lot and smell had diminished.
  • The colour of the sausages are reddish with speckles of white fat meat. 'They look great like the real thing.
  • I reckon they will need 1 week drying time before ready to eat.

Other issues.
  • I am hooked. If I am still alive after eating these sausages will definitely make some more. To save time and effort, I have ordered some sausages stuffing attachments to use with my meat mincer, Can't wait to make more.
  • I find synthetic skin easy to split will get some natural skin next time.
  • The sausages after drying for 4 days looked thinner than I expected using a 21mm wide skin. Will use a thicker (wider) skin next time.

I can't wait to taste these sausages. If you don't hear from me after 2 weeks or so, you know I had poisoned myself. Keep my fingers and my toes :) crossed, I don't want to end up in the hospital.

I have also made a batch of lap yuk (Chinese dried bacon), it has only been drying for 2 days, too early to post will keep you posted.

continue on this post.........

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Moo goo gai pan 蘑菇雞片


The first time I heard of 'moo goo gai pan' said in American/English years ago, I had no idea what it was. Then I figured it out it must be chicken with mushroom, still took me many years later to figure out what 'pan' is in Chinese till I Google and found out it is 片(slices). This dish name has appeared in many American movies or tv whenever Chinese food is mentioned, even The Simpsons also talked about moo goo gai pan.

Moo goo gai pan is a favourite American Chinese (Cantonese) dish. This is also very popular in UK but I am not sure we called it 'moo goo gai pan' over here.

This stir fry dish is quite tasty and easy to make. There is really no need to order from the Chinese takeaway (takeout) or restaurant. It's an everyday dish with simple and easy available ingredients. The way I like to make this is to velvet the chicken in hot oil to make the chicken pieces very smooth, tender and juicy. If you hate cooking the chicken in hot oil, you can just stir fry with a little oil like normal till the chicken is cooked.

Velveting in oil, in Chinese is called 滑油 'wat yau' in Cantonese or 'huat you' in Mandarin, helps to seal and cook the meat very quickly so to seal in all the goodness and juiciness. So when this velveted meat is added to the stir fry this can cook very quickly. Velveting in oil is the most common and favourite method used in many Cantonese restaurants and takeaways (takeout) all over the world.


Moo goo gai pan 蘑菇雞片


Ingredients:

1 large chicken breast (around 300g), sliced
1 rounded tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1 medium egg white (beaten)
1/4 tsp of salt
pinch of ground pepper

1 cup of cooking oil

about 400 - 450g fresh mushroom, sliced
1 onion (around 125 - 150g), sliced
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
3 - 4 stalks of spring onion (scallion), sliced
about 2 tbsp cooking wine (Shaoshing)
1/2 cup of water or non salted chicken stock, mix with 1 tbsp of cornflour (cornstarch)
about 2 tbsp oyster sauce
pinch of ground pepper


Method:
  1. Mix chicken with egg white, cornflour, salt and ground pepper. Leave for about 15 - 20 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in wok till very hot, then drop in the chicken. Be careful of hot oil. The chicken pieces may stick together, use a pair of long chopsticks or a tong to tease them apart. Cook in the hot oil briefly for only about 30 sec - 1 min max till chicken has turned milky white. Take the chicken out using a slotted spoon or spider skimmer. Leave the chicken to drain on the skimmer or large metal sieve.
  3. Remove most of the oil (for other uses) and leave about 1 - 2 tbsp in wok. While the wok is still hot, add in the garlic and onion, stir fry till onion has softened a bit. Then add mushrooms stir fry for couple of minutes, if the wok is very dry and beginning to get sticky and burning can add a touch of water, stir fry till mushroom is softened.
  4. Then add chicken pieces stir and add in the cooking wine, continue stirring till everything is hot then stir in the slackened conflour to make the gravy.
  5. Then add enough oyster sauce and ground pepper to taste. Finally throw in the spring onion.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Jjajangmyun (Korean black bean sauce noodles)




Jjajangmyun is Chinese Zha Jiang Mian Korean style. Jjajangmyun was introduced by Chinese immigrants living in Korea years ago.

The main ingredient for the sauce is a Korean black bean sauce called chun jang. This black bean sauce is nothing like Chinese black bean sauce, so do not substitute Chinese fermented black bean (tousi) for this recipe. Chun jang is jet black and very thick, less salty than most Chinese bean sauces with a hint of sweetness, tastes a little bit like miso. Here is a picture of the one I used. I bought this when I was in LA not too long ago. You may find similar Chun jang in Korean supermarket in UK. There is no substitute, got to use Korean black bean sauce for this recipe.


Other ingredients added to the sauce are meat and vegetables. For the meat can use pork belly (with or without skin) or fatty pork cut into very small pieces, minced (ground) pork or beef, chicken or seafood. Vegetables can be mixed and matched like potatoes, carrot, daikon (mooli), courgette (zucchini), button mushrooms and bell pepper. Onion is essential.

Cooking method is slightly different to Chinese zha jiang mian. Chinese method is to stir fry the sauce till very fragrant and reduced before adding the bits and pieces. Korean Jjajiangmyun is different where the meat is browned first, then add vegetables with the black bean sauce. Personally I find Chinese zha jiang mian sauce is more fragrant than Jjajiangmyun sauce. Korean is quicker and easier especially using minced meat. Both Chinese and Korean are tasty. I like both.

For the noodles, authentic recipe use Korean handmade fresh noodles. There are no such noodles available anywhere near me and I was too lazy to make some handmade wheat noodles. So I opted for spaghetti which works quite well.

Here is a picture of the sauce ingredients.


1 cup each of diced potato, carrot, daikon (mooli) and onion. I used red onion, white or yellow onion is fine. Amount of pork is about 1 lb (450 - 500g). For the Chun jang (black bean sauce) I used about 125g (can up to about 150g). Finally a little sugar, pinch of ground pepper and pinch of salt (salt is optional). You may need cornstarch if you like the sauce much thicker.

Cooking method is easy. Heat wok and add a little cooking oil then fry pork pieces till light golden brown. Remove pork and add onion stir till onion is softened then add the black bean sauce, stir for a while then add carrot, daikon and the fried pork. Add enough water to cover vegetables and meat, let this boil for few minutes then lower heat and lid on and simmer for about 20 minutes then add potatoes. Continue cooking for another 15 - 20 minutes till meat and vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened . The potatoes will help to thicken the sauce, if not thick enough can thicken with a little slackened cornflour (cornstarch). Add pinch of pepper to taste. Have a taste then add sugar and salt to your taste.

This sauce recipe is enough to feed 4 - 5 people.

If using minced (ground) meat, chicken or seafood, add potato the same time as carrot and daikon. Total cooking time is lessen to around 20 -25 minutes, and even less for seafood.

For the noodles I used fine spaghetti called Fedelini. You can use other plain dried Chinese wheat noodles. Udon works well too. If you are lucky to have a Korean grocery store near you, then best get those fresh handmade myun (noodles) specially for jjajangmyun. Another good option is handmade noodles or pasta. Cook noodles/ pasta per instructions and enough for everyone.

To serve, pile noodles on a plate then spoon on the dark meat/veggie sauce. Garnish with some shredded cucumber and/or carrot. If you have some yellow pickled daikon and kimchi, serve as side dishes, they go very well with the noodles.

Mix and enjoy. Simple comfort food I will never get tired of.


Monday, 22 March 2010

Mooli and pork wrapped in flaky pastry 蘿蔔絲酥餅




These are nice little dim sum pastry balls great with a cup of Chinese tea. I am using traditional Chinese flaky pastry for this recipe but if you can't be bothered you can use bought puff pastry. Chinese flaky pastry is made up of two type of pastries layered together. Here is how to make this yummy dim sum.

For the filing:


500g peeled mooli or daikon, shredded/grated into shreds by cheese grater or a mandolin
200g minced pork (ground pork)
30g dried shrimps, rinsed and soaked for few minutes then chopped
about 50g spring onion (scallion), chopped
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (to your taste)
2 - 3 tsp light soy
about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground pepper (to your taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
a little cooking oil
1 tbsp cornflour (corn starch) slackened with some water

Method:
  1. Heat oil then add garlic, stir fry till fragrant then add dried shrimps and stir fry for couple of minutes then add pork, continue stir frying till pork is cooked through and no sign of liquid left. Add soy and pepper to taste.
  2. Then stir in the mooli, stir fry for few minutes till the vegetable is soften, add enough salt to taste and stir in slackened cornflour. Heat off and add spring onion.
  3. Leave this to cool while you make the pastry.

For the flaky pastry:

This pastry is versatile can be used in many pastry type dim sums , savoury or sweet, baked, pan fried or deep fried.


a. Water pastry
225g plain flour (all purpose)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
40g lard or vegetable shortening, melted
20g cooking oil (or you can use melted lard or shortening)
about 100ml lukewarm water

b. oily pastry
150g plain flour (all purpose)
50g lard or vegetable shortening, softened
40g cooking oil (or softened lard/shortening)

*If you don't like lard or vegetable shortening, you can try using butter for both pastries. It's not traditionally Chinese but will be tasty too.


Method:
  1. To make the water pastry a, mix all ingredients (except flour) together stir till sugar and salt is melted. Add this liquid gradually into the flour while mixing. Mix till all dried flour is absorbed. Depending on the type of flour you have and room temperature, you may need more all less the total liquid. If the dough is still a bit dry after adding all the liquid, add a touch more water. No need to knead. Leave the dough to rest for about 20 minutes. After resting give it a quick knead till smooth and leave aside for 10 minutes before dividing.
  2. To make pastry b, just mix fat and flour together till you get a lump of greasy dough.
  3. Divide the both doughs equally into 19 - 20 parts each.
  4. Take a piece of water dough, flatten this and put on a lump of the greasy dough. Wrap this up. Flatten and roll out into a long strip. Roll this strip up like a cigar. Turn 90 deg., and roll out this little log into a long strip again, roll up like a cigar again. This is how to create multi layers combining these two pastries.
  5. The pastry is ready to use. I normally repeat step 4 till all other bits of dough (water and oily) are combined before wrapping with filling. Cover to avoid drying. If using lard and working in a cool or cold kitchen, lard can harden the pastry quickly, so better cover with a towel wetted with hot water and wring out dry.




To assemble the pastry balls.

You need 1 portion of the filling as above, ready to use flaky pastries (19 - 20 pieces), 1 beaten egg for brushing and about 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Method:
  1. Take a piece of flaky pasty dough (see above), try and roll it out as round as you can to about 2 - 2.5 mm thick. Wet the rim of the pastry with water. Spoon on some filling. Then start gathering the edge together and wrap like a Chinese bao bun (see slide show). Then when sealed, lightly wet the surface and smooth the rough edges, shaped into a ball with the base slightly flatten. Continue wrapping all other pieces of dough till all done.
  2. Brush the pastry balls with beaten egg then roll with sesame seeds. Place balls on a baking tray/pan. If using no non-stick tray, grease the tray/pan with a little oil.
  3. Preheat oven to 200 - 210 deg C.
  4. Bake the pastry balls for about 20 minutes till golden.
  5. Serve hot.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Banana and coconut chiffon cake


I had few very ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl. The only way I can think of to use them up is cake. I want something light and less calorie rich. I had banana chiffon before, it's a bit bland IMO. Then I thought why not add coconut with banana for a change. Can't use coconut milk on top of the pureed banana or the cake will be too wet. Then I thought why not add coconut cream powder then I can have the coconut flavour without compromising the wetness of the cake. So this recipe was what I concocted and it worked. The cake was light and much more flavourful than banana alone.

Chiffon cake is a South East Asian Cake similar to American Angel Cake. Difference between angel cake and chiffon cake is angel cake use all egg whites and chiffon cake use whole eggs. Chiffon cake has two parts one is the whipped egg whites and the other is a batter mixture.
Both Angel and Chiffon are baked using a tube tin/pan.

There are few do and don't when making chiffon cakes.
  • Always use a tube tin/pan with a loosen tube and the tin/pan must not have any non stick coating.
  • Do not grease the tin/pan.
  • Do not open the oven door during baking. No peeping at all or the cake will collapse.
  • Do set the timer to remind you when to take the cake out.
  • Soon as you take the cake out you have to invert it, so the cake is hang upside down.
  • Do let the cake cool completely before you take it out of the tin/pan.
  • Scrape the cake out using a long thin knife.
For more details how to make this type of cakes see previous posts, orange chiffon and pandan chiffon.


Banana and Coconut Chiffon Cake

Tin/pan : 23cm tube

Ingredients:

Meringue mixture:
5 large egg whites
150g sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (if yo don't have this it is ok to omit)

Batter mixture:
300g ripe banana
5 egg yolks
100g coconut cream powder (available in most oriental grocery store)
50g any flavourless cooking oil (like sunflower or corn oil)
200g self raising flour (if using plain flour or all purpose, sieve the flour with 1/2 tsp of baking powder).


Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 165 - 170 deg C fan oven or 175 - 180 deg C non fan oven.
  2. Pureed or mashed the banana, mix this with the rest of the batter ingredients till smooth.
  3. In a clean large bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar till frothy and light then slowly add in the sugar a little at a time while continue whisking. Whisk till egg white is stiff. Test is to invert the bowl and egg white will not drop out.
  4. Add about 1/4 of the whipped egg white into the batter mixture, fold and mix. Then add the remaining egg white into the batter mixture, fold till well mixed.
  5. Pour batter into the tube tin/pan.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes.
  7. Take the cake out and invert it up side down, cooling on a rack so air can circulate and cool the cake at the same time.
  8. When the cake is completely cooled. Use a long thin knife, glide gently along the tin/pan inside ring and outside rim. Then push the cake out from the bottom of the pan/tin. Using the knife and glide gently along the base the of the cake. Now the cake is completely loosen. Put a plate on top of the cake, invert it and the cake will drop out and fall on the plate.

I had this cake on its own because I don't want to pile up the calories. If you like a bit of frosting or icing, make a cream cheese frosting with added coconut cream powder will be nice with toasted coconut and few slices of banana as deco.

If you don't have the same 23cm tin as mine, can use one slightly larger or smaller. For a smaller cake tin/pan, fill with the cake mixture and leave about 1" room for the cake to rise, discard any left over or make pancakes with the leftover.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Sichuan preserved vegetable and pork noodle soup 榨菜肉絲麵


榨菜 Zha Chai is my favourite store cupboard Chinese pickled vegetable. This is available in most Chinese grocery store, some in plastic packaging and some in tin/can in large chunks or ready shredded. Personally I prefer the chunky type in a tin/can.



This pickled vegetable is made with a root vegetable similar to kohlrabi but knobbly. Above is a picture borrowed from the web. This is how they look like before pickled with salt and chilli powder to look like this below.


Zha Chai is salty, spicy and crunchy. I normally use this is to stir fry/steam with pork/chicken or spare ribs. Occasionally I like to use this salted spicy vegetable to boil soup with pork ribs, potato, tomato, celery and onion, a very tasty soup.

Another favourite of mine is this noodle soup, 榨菜肉絲麵 (zha chai rou si mien), a very satisfying big bowl to slurp loudly in private.

The recipe is easy and very quick to make using store cupboard ingredients, few everyday fresh and flavouring ingredients.


榨菜肉絲麵 (zha chai rou si mien)


Ingedients: pork, zha chai (Sichuan preserved vegetable), noodles (dried or fresh, wheat or rice), broth or stock (use frozen homemade or stock bullion), garlic, ginger, spring onion (scallion), light soy, dark soy, sesame oil, pinch of ground pepper, cornflour (corn starch), pinch of sugar and some cooking wine.

Take a piece of pork like pork chop, fillet or loin, cut into very fine strips. Mix pork with some light soy, pinch of ground pepper, dash of sesame oil and some cornflour. Leave to marinate for about 15 minutes.

Take about 3/4 - equal weight of zha chai or Sichuan preserved vegetables. If using ready shredded then use as it. If using chunks, rinse off chilli powder and cut into same size as pork. This pickled vegetable is salty, best give it a rinse after cutting to remove some of the salt. Squeeze dry.

Chop some garlic. Shred or chop some ginger. Also get ready some garnish like chopped spring onion (scallion) and chilli.

Have enough stock or broth (chicken, pork or vegetable). Heat and lightly seasoned. Keep this hot ready for later.

Heat some oil, add garlic and stir then add pork and stir fry till meat is brown. Add ginger and a splash of cooking wine. Add zha chai, stir for couple of minutes till heat through. Add a few drops of dark soy for colour and a little sugar to taste.

Get some noodles, cooked as per instructions. My favourite noodles for this dish is dried Shanghai style wheat noodles like this below. This has a very smooth texture great for noodle soup.


To assemble the noodle soup, put some cooked noodles in a soup bowl, pile on some of the stir fried pork with zha chai, sprinkle with the garnish and pour on the hot broth. Enjoy.


This post is kindly supported by Chinese Food.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Opor Ayam


Opor ayam is one of the popular chicken curry in Indonesia/Malaysia/Brunei areas. Two common curry spices like chilli and turmeric are not required. This curry is fragrant with spices but not spicy hot and quite creamy with coconut milk. Quite easy to make once you have got the spice paste and whole spices ready. Very tasty with just plain rice or Malay pressed rice called lontong. I like this with pineapple curry (pajeri nanas).

To make this curry, either use one whole chicken cut into large chunks or use drumsticks and thighs pack.

This recipe will feed 4 – 5 people.

Ingredients:

1 chicken around 1.25 – 1.5 kg cut into large chunks

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 small pcs cassia bark or cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 stalks of lemongrass, topped and tailed then bruised

4 – 5 kaffir lime leaves or 2 salam leaves (salam leaves are difficult to find where I am so I only use kaffir lime leaves). Leave leaves whole or lightly crushed.

about 2 tbsp tamarind juice (extracted from a small piece of wet tamarind with some hot water)

1 x 400 - 450ml tin coconut milk (or milk extracted from 1 coconut)

1 – 1.5 tsp salt

Spice paste:

1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp peppercorns (black or white)

140 - 150g shallots or red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 chunk galangal (about 25 - 30g), sliced
1 chunk ginger (about 25 - 30g), sliced
2 – 3 cloves garlic
5 - 6 candle nuts (kemiri or buah keras )
1 red chilli, cut into chunks (optional, I like this curry slightly hot. Not required if you don’t want to add chilli)


Method:
  1. Dry roast coriander, cumin, fennel and peppercorns for few minutes till fragrant. Then ground in a pestle and mortar or electric grinder till fine.
  2. Ground shallot (or red onion), galangal, ginger, garlic, candle nuts and chilli to a paste using pestle and mortar or electric mini blender. Mix with dry ground spices.
  3. Add a little oil to a wok or large frying pan. Heat till hot and fry chicken pieces till brown on the outside for few minutes. (Chicken does not have to be cooked through).
  4. Remove chicken and most of the chicken fat/oil leaving about 2 tbsp and add about 4 – 5 tbsp of coconut milk, stir fry ground spice paste and star anise and cassia bark for about 5 - 8 minutes or till fragrant. Keep the paste moving to prevent sticking.
  5. Add about 1 - 1.25 cup of water plus remaining coconut milk, lemongrass, tamarind and 1 tsp salt, let this liquid come to a boil. Add chicken pieces and simmer for about 25 minutes then add kaffir lime leaves. Continue simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes till chicken is done and sauce is slightly thicken. Taste and see if you need any more salt.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Hakka fried pork braised with woodears 客家炸肉燜木耳



Most People called this char yoke, meaning fried pork. The pork is fried then braised. It's similar braising pork like hong shao rou. The dish is flavoured predominantly with red fermented beancurd and five spice powder. Quite a simple recipe, other than the flavourings there are only two ingredients pork and woodears. Probably the only recipe that uses the most woodears in my experience. Not the prettiest dish but quite tasty with plain rice and some steamed or fried green vegetables. The pork is tender and the woodears are soft yet slightly crunchy.

Do not substitute red fermented beancurd with white fermented beancurd, the flavour is different.


Recipe will feed 4 - 5 people

Ingredients:


Pork and marinade
about 1 kg pork belly or shoulder (best with skin and fat), cut into chunks
1 rounded tbsp fermented red beancurd (about 2.5 small squares or 0.75 pc large square), finely mashed + 1.5 tbsp of the pickling juice
1 rounded tsp sugar
1 tsp five spice powder
good pinch of ground pepper
2 - 3 tsp soy sauce
1 rounded tbsp cornflour


about 1 cup of oil for frying


Rest of ingredients
about 60 - 75 g woodear (best use the thickest type you can find, more crunchy)
1 rounded tbsp of red fermented beancurd ( about 2.5 little square or 0.75 pc large square), mashed
1 tsp of five spice
5 - 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp shaoshing wine
some light soy to taste
some oyster sauce to taste (optional)
pinch of ground pepper


Method:
  1. Mix pork with the marinade and leave in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Soak woodears in water till softened then tear into pieces and remove the hard stem. If you using the large thick type, when soaked some can be expanded to 5 - 6 inches wide. Because this takes quite a while to stew best use thick woodears, flimsy ones or ready shredded may be too soft after stewing.
  3. Heat oil in wok till hot then fry the pork in several batches at medium high heat till golden brown. Be careful oil may spit due to the pork skin, don't get too close. If the oil starts spitting turn the heat down. When done remove pork and place in large metal sieve, large spider skimmer or colander to drain off any excess fat. This pork can be eaten like this without stewing, quite nice too.
  4. When frying is done, remove oil and wash the wok because they could be a sticky layer on the wok.
  5. Heat about 1 - 2 tbsp of oil and fry the garlic then add in the red fermented beancurd and five spice, stir fry till fragrant.
  6. Add a splash of shaoshing wine. Add in the pork and woodears. Stir for a while.
  7. Add enough boiling water to nearly cover pork and woodears. Let this boil for 2 - 3 minutes, cover with lid and lower heat to simmer for about 40 minutes or till the meat is tender.
  8. Taste if salty, then add light soy and/or oyster sauce and pinch of ground pepper.


Fermented Red beancurd


I had used so many different types of fermented red beancurd; in tin (can), glass jar and ceramic jars. My latest favourite is this one below. It's from Shanghai with a nice ceramic jar, suitable for storing garlic later. The fermented beancurd and juice are stored in a plastic bag, so the jar is not stained. The beancurds are quite large not the tinny squares. The smell is much nicer than any other brands I had tried. I can smell a nice fragrance from the fermented red yeast rice 紅麴米 . (Red yeast rice is what gives this fermented beancurd the deep red colour). Truly recommend this. Not the cheapest around £3+ for a jar.

Do keep fermented red beancurd in fridge if you are not using it often. Prolong storing at room temp. or in a warm room can over ferment it and it could smell sour or foul.