30 March 2009

Chinese Congee

This is a recipe for Chinese Congee. Or what is sometimes referred to as chinese porridge. Its actually quite similar to my grandma's recipe. Only without the vast amount of innards she usually adds in. Not that it doesn't taste nice, its just I'm not 100% sure how to clean\prepare the innards....yet. A good bowl of congee should have the rice completely integrated, you shouldn't be able to see individual rice grains. This requires the rice to be washed, drained then mixed in with a teaspoon of cooking oil and set aside for at least an hour before cooking.

After the base congee is made, you can add different ingredients. Pork with century eggs is a traditional combination. Other well known types of chinese congee are:
  • Chicken with Abalone
  • Fish Pieces (fresh) with Peanuts
  • Chicken and Mushroom
  • Pork with dried scallops and wind-dried oysters
Here is my take on congee with century eggs and mince pork balls.

Century Eggs with Mince Pork Balls Congee
Original recipe from my grandma

Base Congee
Wash the rice, mix in the cooking oil then set a side:
  • 2 cups of Rice (washed through until water runs clear)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cooking oil
  • 8 cups of water (bring to boil in a large pot)

Mince Pork Balls
Marinate the following together:

  • 250g mince pork
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • green spring onions (finely sliced)
  • couple of dashes of sesame oil
When Congee is nearly ready add in...
  • Mince pork balls (see above)
  • 2 Century old eggs (roughly diced)
  • 2 salted duck eggs (yoke roughly diced)
Serve with...

  • fried glutin
  • soy sauce
  • spring onions
  • coriander

20 March 2009

Cottage Pie

I had 1/2 a bowl of leftover mince beef from dinner cooked the night before. It was mince beef with onions, corn kernels with a soy base marinade. A quick meal where I literally took what was available in my pantry and fridge and threw it together as a dish to have with some steam rice.

Looking at that bowl of beef just a moment ago, I didn't really want to reheat it up and have it again just like that. The one thing I did think of, was to turn that beef into a Shepherd's pie. Well... Shepherd's pie was originally made with leftovers... isn't it ?? Actually since I'm using beef.. technically it would be called a 'cottage pie'.. (quickly adjusts title).

I wasn't too sure how the bowl of mince beef .. which has a distinct Asian marinade .. would work within a westernised dish of shepherd's pie. Well... there's only one way to find out.. :)

Shepherd's Pie Cottage Pie


  • 700g of minced beef (in my case.. last night's leftovers, which happen to have corn kernnels)
  • 2 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 carrot (chopped in ~1cm cubes)
  • 1 brown onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup of beef stock
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dried herbs ... I had some Thyme available
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas (defrosted & rehydrated with water)

  • 3-4 large potatoes - suitable for making mash (skin removed, quartered)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg yoke (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Cheese - enough to cover the top (i used a mixture of Parmesan and cheddar)

In a dutch oven pot, add olive oil then garlic, onions and carrots. Once the onions start to brown, add in the beef. As mine was already cooked beef from the fridge, I just had to let it re-heat up. If using raw beef, stir the contents around until the beef has browned. Add in the can tomatoes, beef stock and Worcestershire sauce. Season generously with salt & pepper. I also added in about 1/2 teaspoon of thyme. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 mins.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan bring some water with about 1 tablespoon of salt to boil. Add in the potatoes and let the potatoes cook for about 20 mins. Drain the potatoes and mash with some milk and butter. I added an egg yoke in, cause I found it actually did make my mash potatoes taste a bit more creamier (ie. not so powdery) and also because I had quite a few leftover in my fridge (the casualties of my last souffle expedition).

Pour the beef base into a deep dish, then top with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with cheese. Place in an preheated oven of about 180C, and cook until the cheese has melted and the tops start to brown. This should take about 15 mins. Serve as is, or with some fresh green leafy salad.

For the record, this actually turned out pretty tasty. P couldn't tell at all I had used left over beef, which had been from an Asian dish for the pie. :)

17 March 2009

Chinese Roast Pork

I always wondered how they would make all those different types of meat hanging in the windowsill of a Chinese BBQ shop. My favorite is the roast pork belly. That crispy salted crackling.... humm.. I could munch on those for a whole day and not get bored of it. I always though making it at home would really be out of the question. The type of marinade and the ovens these meats are cook in aren't something found in a small apartment kitchen. The last time I was chatting to my second auntie over the phone, she was preparing dinner, and just happen to be putting a piece of pork belly into oven as we were talking. She happily taught me how to reproduce a homemade version of the roasted pork belly.

The secret she said was to invert the pork overnight in the fridge, and to season it well with a mixed spice, known as 'salted baked chicken powder'. Thats the closest I can translate it to.

The 'inverted' method was somewhat weird.. I did a quick search on google, but didn't find any other recipes which used her method. A lot of recipes I did find called for '5 spice powder'.. but hey.. if my fav auntie says 'salted baked chicken powder'... then chicken powder it is. :)

Chinese Roast Pork
Recipe from my Aunt

  • 3 teaspoons salted baked chicken powder (available at Asian grocery stores)
  • ~400g piece pork belly (sliced lengthwise about 1 1/2 inch thick in width)
  • freshly grounded salt

Dry the pork skin as much as possible. Place the pork onto a shallow baking tray, rub the skin with the salted baked chicken powder and massage the powder into the meat also. Grind a light cover of salt over the skin. Invert the pork upside down on the baking tray and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Heat the oven to 220C.

Place the pork belly on a roasting rack with the baking tray underneath to catch all the drippings into the oven for about 10 mins. After 10 mins, you should see the skin bubble and turn crispy, turn the heat down to about 180C. Continue to roast for another 15-20 mins. Because the pork belly was sliced into 1 1/2 inch length pieces (for me this meant, slicing it in half lengthwise), the total cooking time required was a bit less.

Remove pork from the oven, and let it rest for about 5 mins. After it has rested, you can cut up the pork into serving\bite size pieces. Just like what they do in the BBQ shops. I found that cutting up the pork was easier with the crackling skin side down on my chopping board. Oh.. and the chicken powder thing does make the pork really tasty.. and the crackling was finger-licking good :)

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