Twice Cooked Pork Belly - Dong Bo Rou 东坡肉

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Some say the best recipes come out through accidents and this is one of those.

Twice Cooked Pork Belly - Dong Bo Rou 东坡肉

This dish is named after the famous scholar and poet Su Shi 苏轼 (often known as Su Dong Bo 苏东坡) of the Song Dynasty. It originated in Huanggang, Hubei, China, a place where he was demoted and sent to at one point of his life, but was only made popular in Hangzhou.

He "accidentally" created this dish one day when he was cooking his favourite pork dish and his friend came to visit unexpectedly. He lowered the heat and left the kitchen to play chess with his friend. He forgot all about the pork until towards the end of the game. He then rushed to the kitchen expecting to find a pot of burnt pork, but instead the pork and gravy had a rich deep red colour, and the meat was extremely tender. Since then, the dish became a favourite of his and his guests. There are also other stories about its origin, anyhow, this dish very tasty and is simple to prepare, made with just a few simple ingredients.

Twice Cooked Pork Belly - Dong Bo Rou 东坡肉 ingredients

The meat is blanched to get rid of the scum, then braised till tender, then finally steamed. Do not skip the steaming step as it is believed to make the meat more tender while retaining its shape and produce melt-in-your-mouth fats.

Twice Cooked Pork Belly - Dong Bo Rou 东坡肉

Dong Bo Rou 东坡肉

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 2 1/2 hr
Yield: serves 4-6


Ingredients:
  • 1 slab (about 1 kg) pork belly
  • 5 stalks spring onion - halved
  • 25 g ginger - sliced
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 60 g rock sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup water
Directions:
  • Blanch pork belly. [Place pork into a pot, add enough water to cover. Bring to boil. Once water comes to a boil, remove from heat, drain and wash.]
  • Place ginger and spring onion in the bottom of a pot.
  • Place pork, skin side down on top of the bed of ginger and spring onion.
Twice Cooked Pork Belly - Dong Bo Rou 东坡肉
  • Add in all the other ingredients.
  • Bring to boil then lower heat to simmer for 2 hrs (or until tender), covered. Turn the meat around half way through.
  • Remove from braising liquid and steam on high heat (skin side up) for a further 15 mins. I used the braising liquid instead of water for steaming. [I removed the meat from the bones as the whole piece was quite thick and I couldn't close the lid.]
Twice Cooked Pork Belly - Dong Bo Rou 东坡肉
  • Serve with braising liquid. You could reduce the liquid until thickened, but I thought the sauce was quite salty, so I thickened the suace with cornstarch slurry (cornstarch + water) instead.
Twice Cooked Pork Belly - Dong Bo Rou 东坡肉
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Carrot, Bok Choy & Pork Ribs Soup 红萝卜菜干猪骨汤

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

This is one of my favourite Chinese soups. The flavour is unique, I can't quite describe it, you really have to try it to know. Anyway, it's really tasty, very appetising and is traditionally used to relieve "heatiness" in your body.

Carrot, Bok Choy & Pork Ribs Soup 红萝卜菜干猪骨汤

I've always known it as "choy gon tong", which means "dried vegetable soup" in Cantonese. I never knew it's actually made out of dried bok choy as the package is labelled as "Dried White Cole" and it tastes totally different from the fresh ones. The dried version is readily available in any Oriental supermarket. If you have any experience with fresh bok choy, you'll know that there's a lot of sand and dirt hidden in between the stems, same goes to the dried one, so remember to wash and rinse thoroughly before use.

Dried bok choy, dried honey date
Dried bok choy and dried honey date

Carrot, Bok Choy & Pork Ribs Soup 红萝卜菜干猪骨汤

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 2 1/4 hr
Cook time: 1 1/2 hr


Ingredients:
  • 75 g dried white cole (白菜干, dried bok choy)
  • 500 g pork ribs
  • 2 small carrots (chopped into chunks)
  • 2 dried honey dates 蜜枣 - rinsed, coarsely chopped
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 2 L water
  • Light soy sauce or salt (to taste)

Directions:
  • Soak the dried bok choy in warm water for about 2 hrs or until softened. Drain and wash away all the sand and dirt around the stems. Cut bok choy into 2-inch pieces.
  • Blanch pork ribs. [Place pork ribs into a large pot, add enough water to cover. Bring to boil. Once water comes to a boil, remove from heat, drain and wash.]
  • Place all ingredients into a pot and cook under pressure for about 1 1/2 hrs.
  • Add soy sauce or salt to taste.
Carrot, Bok Choy & Pork Ribs Soup 红萝卜菜干猪骨汤
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Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York

Another place we were keen to try was Momofuku Ssam Bar, especially for their speciality “steamed pork buns”. The super juicy tender and fatty pork belly was sandwiched in a sliced piece of mantau (steamed bun) along with some hoi-sin sauce, cucumber and spring onions, a bit of a play on the crispy duck.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York pork bun

While it was certainly good, and I would definitely recommend ordering it if you were there, it wasn’t to-die-for and perhaps not worth a trek JUST to eat it. We also tried the pork buns in Ippudo in Singapore (we didn't try the pork buns in the NYC branch) a couple weeks afterwards which we actually preferred, largely due to the addition of Japanese mayo within.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York

We also tried their “rotisserie duck over rice”, a new addition to their lunch menu, which is just a fancy name for the typical roast duck rice in London Chinatown. It was pretty good roast duck though, the skin was perfectly roasted, meat was juicy and moist but honestly it still doesn’t stack up to 'Four Seasons’ duck in London (not as tasty and tender IMO - it's probably the Chinaman in me talking). However, what made it different was the layer of pork sausage meat in between the skin and duck meat, which added a nice different texture and flavour. We also ordered some chive pancakes to go with it; nice especially with the greens to go with it.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York duck rice

There were a few bottles of condiments to go with the food, but of particular note is the ginger/spring onion oil mixture, extremely flavourful and felt like it could go well with anything. The PigPig finished the whole bottle in our little meal.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York ginger spring onion oil

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
East Village
207 2nd Ave (corner of 13th street / 2nd avenue)
New York, NY 10003
Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon
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Quick Bites in NYC: Katz's, Luke’s Lobster, Papaya King, Banh Mi Zon

Friday, 15 July 2011

This is the post for the little quick bites we had on our way around NYC.

Katz's Delicatessen

Katz Delicatessen is widely regarded as the place to go to in NYC for typical kosher-style deli food. It’s also famous for a certain scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally. It can get ridiculously busy at lunch hours so we went at 11a.m. to beat the queue. Upon entry, each person gets a ticket and the order is written on the ticket to be paid upon exit. Even blank tickets need to be handed in on exit, so keep it with you as lost tickets will be charged ($50 I think). Tables on the side by the wall is with service, otherwise just queue at the counter then grab a seat in the middle of the huge hall.

Katz's Delicatessen

We shared a pastrami on rye as we knew it was going to be massively huge. While ordering, a little sample will be given so you can check the quality. The resulting sandwich is a behemoth of a sandwich, filled with the juiciest pastrami ever and a little bit of tangy mustard. A must-try!

Katz's Delicatessen - pastrami

Luke's Lobster

Looking for some cheap lobster eats, we trekked uptown for Luke’s Lobster. Each lobster roll contains the meat from the claws of 5-6 lobsters caught in Maine, served chilled with a bit of mayo, lemon butter and mysterious spices on top of a warm roll. After the initial excitement of cheap lobster bites ($15 for a roll) though, I found the lobster itself not as sweet as some of the others I’ve had before. Nevertheless, they were very generous with the filling, the meat was perfectly cooked, succulent and juicy. Adding in the barbecue flavoured crisps really helped in terms of flavours too.

Luke's lobster

Papaya King

It wouldn’t be right if we went to the United States of A and didn’t try a hot dog and the two places we were recommended were Papaya King and Gray’s Papaya. From my understanding, they’re both about the same, serving hot dogs and papaya juice to hungry locals. Since we happened upon Papaya King first we tried them first and had a hot dog with onions and kraut. It didn’t do a lot for us to be honest as it was kinda measly, there wasn’t much taste to the dog and the kraut overpowered everything. Their papaya juice was also weird, more like a diluted lassi with yoghurt added. Not a fan of hot dogs after all.

papaya king

Banh Mi Zon

This Vietnamese sandwich is served using a mini-baguette and stuffed with various mains such as grilled pork or chicken, tofu or sardine. We ignored all of them to try the original typical one instead filled with liver pate, Vietnamese ham, terrine and shredded pork floss. In addition there was an entire salad bar stuffed in too with some cucumber, coriander and pickled carrots and daikon. It was the entire combination of everything that melded really well, with the earthiness of the pate and ham, mixing with the sweetness of the pork floss as well as having the tangy bite of the pickles (really nice pickles too as they weren’t too sharp like how they’re typically done). We had it on medium spiciness after the Kyochon catastrophe, but it was a bit too mild for us this time. Another enjoyable quick bite.

banh mi zon

Katz's Delicatessen
Lowet East Side
205 East Houston Street
New York 10002
Katz's Deli on Urbanspoon

Luke's Lobster
Upper East Side
242 E 81st St
New York, NY 10028
Other branches available
Luke's Lobster (UES) on Urbanspoon

Papaya King
Upper East Side
179 E 86th St
New York, NY 10028
Papaya King on Urbanspoon

Banh Mi Zon
East Village
443 E 6th St
New York, NY 10009
Banh Mi Zon on Urbanspoon
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Sweets in NYC: Two Little Red Hens, Doughnut Plant, Ray's, Momofuku Milk Bar

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The sweeties post.

Two Little Red Hens

When in New York, gotta try a New York cheesecake and we went up to the Two Little Red Hens bakery to try reputedly one of the better ones in town. The cheesecake was really good, quite dense, very creamy and with the right level of sweetness.

Two Little Red Hens, New York

We also tried their Brooklyn Blackout Cupcake. It appeared to be a cupcake with a molten chocolate fondant in the middle which was a nice surprise as we didn’t have a clue what to expect. It was really chocolatey and extremely moist and soft - one of the better cupcakes we've had.

Two Little Red Hens - Brooklyn Blackout cupcake

Doughnut Plant

Doughnut Plant, New York

We detoured quite a bit to make our way to the Doughnut Plant all the way downtown to find a queue out the main door onto the streets outside. From the sounds of other people in the queue, it was actually quite worth the wait.

Doughnut Plant, New York
Doughnuts and strawberry lemonade.

After about 20 minutes, we finally got our hands on a couple to sample. They’re quite organised and separated their doughnuts into different types: yeast, cake and jam. We ignored the jam ones and tried one from the yeast and cake categories respectively. The yeast crème brûlée doughnut was surprisingly very similar in taste to a proper crème brûlée as it had the creaminess, sweetness and very slight bitterness from the caramelised sugar taste to it as well as the normal light and slight chewy texture of a doughnut. The cake style tres leches was (duh) very much like a cake. Soft and moist, it's pretty much like eating a doughnut-shaped cake.

Doughnut Plant, New York
Left: crème brûlée; right: tres leches

Momofuku Milk Bar

Momofuku Milk Bar, New York

Continuing along with our Momofuku odyssey, we checked out the Momofuku Milk Bar a couple of times. Opposite the Ssam Bar, we tried the milk cereal ice cream, which tasted exactly like how it sounded: the leftover milk at the bottom of a bowl when eating cornflakes; very different and surprisingly nice. We also tried their crack pie, which was incredibly dense and delicious but far too sweet for my liking.

Momofuku milk bar, New York

Momofuku milk bar, New York - crack pie

On our second experience, we tried the Milk Bar in Midtown for their blackberry and kaffir lime milkshake. Again, Momofuku tries something different with their flavour combinations and makes it work as the kaffir lime was more of a hint to the main blackberry but it just gave it a different dimension. We also bought some banana cake truffles but sadly forgot about it till it was all melted. Still tasted pretty good though, essentially a little ball of banana cake coated in chocolate.

Momofuku milk bar, New York

Ray's Egg Cream

Lastly in our little dessert summary is the chocolate egg cream, a combination of chocolate syrup, milk and Seltzer/soda water (= sparkling water), which reminded me of an ice-cream float. Personally, I found this a really weird combination but then I don’t like floats anyway but it’s supposed to be a Brooklyn drink so we thought we’ll try. You either like it or hate it.

Ray's egg cream

Two Little Red Hens
Upper East Side
1652 2nd Ave (86th St)
New York, NY 10028
Two Little Red Hens on Urbanspoon

Doughnut Plant
Lower East Side
379 Grand St
New York, NY 10002
Other branches available
Doughnut Plant on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar
East Village
251 e 13th st
new york, ny 10003
corner of 13th street / 2nd avenue
Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Midtown
15 w 56th st
new york, ny 10019
between 5th and 6th avenues
Momofuku Milk Bar (Midtown) on Urbanspoon
Other branches available

Ray's Candy Store
113 Ave A
New York, NY 10009
Ray's Candy Store on Urbanspoon
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KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) in NYC: KyoChon, BonChon

Friday, 8 July 2011

Essentially, these two Korean chains serve up fried chicken and the most popular pieces are the chicken wings which both come in two varieties: soy garlic or a spicy version. Conveniently, both of them have outlets on 5th Avenue literally three doors apart so you can try them both out easily. The Kyochon store looks much nicer though as it had big glass windows and a very clean white modern motif while Bonchon was a bit dark and gloomy and the scaffolding outside didn’t help.

Both chains also conveniently will let you try the two flavours if you order a medium box of 10 wings, so we had 5 hot and sweet and 5 soy garlic wings each. While ordering, Kyochon also warned me that the spicy version is very spicy, which I ignored on the assumption that most stuff I eat in the Western world is nowhere near as spicy as food I eat in Malaysia.

Kyochon, new york

But I forgot this was a Korean chain... within seconds of biting into the spicy chicken wing, my tongue was on fire and tears were streaming down my face. We ended up finishing a whole 1L bottle of water eating the 5 spicy wings from Kyochon.

bonchon, new york
KFC @ BonChon

As for Bonchon, we were expecting more glaze on the spicy version; however, both the soy garlic and spicy wings looked identical (not sure if they gave us the right thing). One of it was a little spicy - nowhere near as crazy spicy hot as Kyochon's. Between the two, I think Bonchon’s soy garlic wings were tastier and the wings were overall crispier too (The wings were not heavily battered but amazingly crispy.). However, Kyochon has free sauce dispensers on the side and their garlic sauce is pretty good too.

kyochon, new york

PS. We found that the spicy hot wings really galvanised our stomachs and made us hungry for more food afterwards. Think they incinerated everything else inside our stomach so we needed to refill again.

KyoChon
Midtown West
319 5th Ave
New York, NY 10016
Other branches available
KyoChon on Urbanspoon

BonChon
Midtown West
325 5th Ave
New York, NY 10016
Other branches available
Bon Chon Chicken on Urbanspoon
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Beef Teriyaki Steak

Thursday, 7 July 2011

So much to do, too little time! I've been extremely busy for the past few weeks so please forgive me for not visiting your blogs. After our trip to New York and before I could get over my jet lag, I flew to France for a friend's wedding. The wedding was a blast, stunning couple, lots of champagne, great food and I had my first croquembouche! And before I could unpack my luggage, I had to pack 11 years worth of stuff into boxes as we are moving to Singapore! We've had enough of the UK and the wild boar got a job there, hence the move. I hope we made the right decision.

OK, that aside. This is an extremely easy dish to prepare and it tastes amazing.

Beef Teriyaki Steak

Teriyaki simply means grilled food in sweet soy sauce marinade. Traditionally, the thick sweet sauce is made by boiling and reducing to the desired thickness. For this, I used cornstarch to thicken the sauce instead. Not ideal, but works really well. Feel free to substitute beef with any other meat like chicken, pork or fish.

Beef Teriyaki Steak

Beef Teriyaki Steak

Printable recipe
By Pig Pig's Corner

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Yield: serves 2


Ingredients:
  • 2 (230 g each) beef steaks (I used rib-eye)
For teriyaki sauce:
  • 2 tbs mirin
  • 2 tbs light soy sauce
  • 2 tbs sake
  • 2 tbs agave nectar (or honey)
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic (pressed or finely minced)
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
For garnishing:
  • Sesame seeds
  • Spring onion
Directions:
  • Whisk together all ingredients for sauce.
  • Brush a layer of sauce on both sides of the meat and sear in a very hot pan for about 2-3 mins each side (depends on your preference for doneness and also your instincts really). Brush the surface of the steaks with the sauce after every min. Remove from pan, cover the steaks loosely with foil and let meat rest for about 5 mins before cutting and serving.
  • While meat is resting, prepare the teriyaki sauce. Pour sauce into a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook until thickened. Pour this over sliced meat.
Beef Teriyaki Steak
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