Recently, during Chinese New Year, I met my cousin. She told me that her neighbour made some Char Siew and Tau Yew Bak and gave some to her. She learnt it off the Net from a lady by the name of "Auntie Ruby".
My cousin also told me that she had recorded some of her recipes. I asked her to whatsapp them over and she did. Some recipes were new to me. These will certainly be added to my upcoming notebook.
I thought my Mum's Wok-char Siew method could be used to cook pork ribs. I blogged about it here. Apparently my Mum already knew that long ago. See the above recipe for "Hong Siew Pai Kuat."
Sigh. I miss my Mum...still. I dreamt of her again just yesterday and it was as if she was really present.
Apart from getting the flavours into the rice, the key is to keep the grains separated and retaining the springy bite (“al dente”). Gluey and soft glutinous rice is to be avoided.
To achieve this, my Mum would slave over the wok. After soaking the rice for a few hours, she would slowly fry the rice in the wok and add water along the way. It can go on for a good hour till the rice is cooked and properly flavored. She would not use the electric rice cooker or regular steamers to pre-cook the rice.
Ever since I came across Leela’s splatter guard method (She Shimmers, a popular Thai Cooking blog), I have found an easier way of achieving the same results.
As I do not normally cook some of the CNY dishes, it is good to take down cooking notes. If it helps you to know what I am doing, it may give you some some ideas.
Planning for a meal up in Petaling Jaya (PJ) can be a challenge, especially if it is a kitchen which I am less familiar with. We are already in communication and various foodstuff is being bought or prepared, whether from Singapore, Ipoh or PJ.
This is what is being prepared for Reunion and rest of CNY:
If you are familiar with my Mum's way of using the wok to cook Char Siew, it should have crossed your mind that you can do the same with pork ribs.
This benefits from the same convenience. You do not need to marinate the pork ribs beforehand. For about 45 minutes from start to finish, you start by slowly braising the ribs and then towards the end, the sauce will caramelise. It is really that simple.
The bone in the pork ribs is a poor conductor of heat. So generally, you need more time to cook the ribs compared to boneless cuts.
Adding half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda will help tenderise the meat as you cook, cutting down the cooking time. Cutting it into bite size pieces makes cooking easier and faster.
Remember to use a normal wok for this (i.e. steel, iron, carbonised steel) and avoid using non-stick ones. Your wok will be stained after the cooking. Just heat up some water in it, add dish washing liquid in the heated water, the stains should come off easily as you scrape with your spatula.
So, what are you cooking for this coming Chinese New Year's Reunion dinner?
This is a special dinner where everyone comes back "home" and the family catches up with one another. It is very special for the older folks - our grandpas and grandmas - as each CNY Reunion dinner continues a chain of tradition that stretches back as far as they can remember.
I know many families these days find it more convenient to eat outside but we all know that it is not the same. In the home, the littles ones can run around and scream their lungs out while the senior ones beam and smile, seated in their comfortable chairs. You do not need to rush through dinner to accommodate the "next seating." And home-cooked meals, lovingly made, are always delicious and warms the heart, don't you agree?
Steamed egg brings back many childhood memories. Next to milk and milo, it is one of the first foods which we were comforted with.
Quick and easy to make, I can imagine why mothers feed their kids with this. When the rice cooker button pops up, from "cook" to "warm", my mum will put a plate on the rice. She poured a layer of the egg-water mix into a plate, closed the lid, and let it steam-cook for a few minutes. It is an efficient way of cooking, making use of the steam and heat from the cooked rice. Sprinkle some diced spring onions to introduce some veg to the child's diet.