The Chinese like to complicate things. A dish when eaten with different staple may be termed differently and that used to confuse me profusely as a child. Now I know better… and am able to order my food correctly when dining in a Hokkien (Fujian – 福建 – Chinese dialect group – the origin of these 3 dishes) restaurant.
Pork when stewed or braised in Dark Soy Sauce:
1. Most viscous gravy: Lor Bah 魯肉 (recipe) – eaten with rice.
2. Thick gravy: Tau Yew Bah 豆油肉 – eaten with rice, porridge or pau/mantou.
3. Very moist almost no gravy: Kong Bah 扣肉 – eaten with Pau 包 and hence the name Kong Bah Pau 扣肉包 (braised meat bun).
And if a picture paints a thousand words, you would have guessed by now I am going to share with you my Kong Bah Pau recipe!
This is a very garlicky version. You may reduce or omit them entirely but I like to use a lot of garlic for this dish as I believe garlic has antibiotic properties that can kill germs and certain viruses. This is a very delicious way to introduce garlic into my family’s diet. But you know there’ll be no kissing that night :p
You may also use chicken whole leg (deboned, with or without skin) meat if you do not like pork.
Recipe for Mantou (can prepare a day ahead and steam again for 10-20 minutes on the day of serving).
Ingredients for Mantou:
550g Plain Flour, and more for dusting.
Small pieces of Waxed Paper (baking parchment).
1½ tablespoons Fresh Yeast.
1 teaspoon fine Sugar.
2 tablespoons Water.
Mix the above and let stand for 5 minutes.
Add ½ tablespoon Salt and 3 tablespoons Lard or Vegetable Oil to the mixture above.
This is your yeast mixture.
8 tablespoon Castor Sugar.
Mix the above well until sugar is dissolved. You may use warm water but let it cool before using. When thoroughly cooled, add the yeast mixture to this sugar solution.
Method for Mantou:
1. Sift flour into a big mixing bowl and create a well.
2. Pour the yeast and sugar mixture into the centre. Stir in the flour and knead into a dough.
3. Use hand or mixer machine and continue to knead until elastic and smooth, just like making bread. The finished dough should look smooth and glossy.
4. Oil your hands a little and form dough into a tight round ball. Leave it in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth near a warm not hot area to rise until double in size.
5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 4 portions and cut each piece into a smaller portion the size of an egg. Round up the cut dough into little tight balls and leave on a greased tray covered with damp cloth. Repeat until all the dough are finished.
6. Flatten each ball of dough with a rolling pin to form a circle about ½cm thick and 7cm in diameter.
7. Brush one half of the dough lightly with melted lard or vegetable oil and fold the other half over so that it becomes a semi circle. Place each of the semi circled dough on the cut waxed paper.
8. Space the dough onto a steaming tray and cover with a dry cloth for 20-30 minutes until they double in size again.
9. Steam over high heat for 10 minutes.
10. You can serve them immediately or let them cool completely before you refrigerate or freeze them till needed.
11. To use refrigerated or frozen buns, steam over high heat till soft about 15-20 minutes.
Recipe for Pork.
1.2kg Pork Belly, cut into very thick bacon-like strips about ¾inch thick.
1½ tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce.
1 teaspoon Honey.
½ teaspoon 5-spice Powder.
Dash of White Pepper Powder.
Marinate pork with the seasonings for an hour.
Spices and Sugar:
1½ Whole Bulb of Garlic, peeled and pound till fine.
2 stalks Spring Onions, whole, remove roots and knotted.
4 red small Shallots, peeled and pound till fine.
3 Star Anise.
1½ tablespoon crushed Rock Sugar (can use normal sugar).
2½ tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce.
½ teaspoon Salt or to taste, only at the final stage of cooking.
1 tablespoons Lard or Vegetable Oil.
Method for meat:
1. Heat lard or vegetable oil in claypot or heavy bottom pot and fry the spices and rock sugar till golden.
2. Reduce the heat and put in the marinated pork (chicken) and stir-fry till all sides are browned and glossy.
3. Add the 2½ tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce and 150ml of water and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, covered with a lid.
4. Turn pork over and continue simmering over low heat, uncovered, until the sauce is thick and oily.
5. Add the rest of the 150ml water, stir and cover with lid.
6. Stir occasionally to prevent the meat from sticking to the pot and burning.
7. Braise the meat until they are tender, up to an hour. You can stick a porcelain spoon to hasten the tendering process like I have mentioned in the Rendang post.
8. Add water if sauce thickens too fast before meat is tender (and vice versa; take meat out and let sauce reduce).
9. Remove meat from heat and sauce when tender and let it cool slightly.
10. Cut meat into the sections about the length of the steamed buns.
11. Either pour the remaining sauce over the sliced meat or serve in another bowl for spreading the buns.
Recipe for Taro Fries, optional.
This side recipe was never a part of the traditional partake of this meal. It was introduced as fusion food to entice the modern western educated youngsters to eat this very Lao (Old) Hokkien dish
1 big Yam (Taro Root).
100g Self Raising Cake or Pastry Flour (low protein).
25g Rice Flour.
½ teaspoon Baking Powder.
250ml Icy Cold Water.
Prepare batter just before deep-frying and not in advance to ensure crispiness.
Salt, for dusting later like french fries.
Yam is toxic eaten raw. DO use gloves when handling raw yams as some sensitive skin may itch.
1. Peel skin and shred Yam with a mandoline shredder or cut into long thin julienne strips.
2. Put some ice in a tub filled with water and some salt. Soak yam in the icy cold salted water for 10 minutes.
3. Drain well and keep aside.
4. Make a very thin and runny icy batter to dip the yam strips. Shake excess batter and deep-fry in hot oil till crispy.
5. Scoop crispy yam fries with a huge perforated ladle and drain on absorbent paper lined tray. Sprinkle with some sea salt, seasoned salt, any salt of your choice to your desired taste.
Note: A healthier version is to bake the yam strips (toss strips in 1 tablespoon oil) in pre-heated oven at 200°C or 400°F and lay flat single layer on a tray. Season with salt and coarse ground pepper to taste and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the strips over and bake another 10 minutes.
D.I.Y. at the dinner table to promote more interactions among the dining members :)
Serve the prepared Kong Bah (braised meat) in a huge platter and a side of the thickened gravy.
A plate of Cilantro, roughly chopped.
Steamed Mantou over high heat for 10-15 minutes until they are soft and serve immediately in the steaming basket or on a platter.
Assembly for Kong Bah Pau:
Take a mantou, remove the wax paper and open it up.
Put a piece of the meat on one half.
Spread a little sauce on the meat like spreading jam or butter on bread.
Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.
Wrap meat up (like soft tacos) and enjoy your sliders!
Chinese or Iceburg Lettuce.
Let your imagine fly…
Note: Many Asian marts sell ready-made mantou these days.
You can eat these with steamed rice or crusty baguette like a subway sandwich.
Happy braising :)