In Asian speak, this is how we say I love you…
“Have you eaten yet?”
When my kids come home I get busy in the kitchen making EVERY SINGLE DISH they love. From Soup to dessert I make their favorites. I usually have a pot of chili or spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove while they’re home and I pull out my Dad’s recipes for down-home Chinese dishes. Wes makes short rib stew and carrot cake. It’s 24-7 cooking and eating. What can I say? The Asian language of love is food.
My dad and grandfather were the cooks in my family. My grandfather cooked for a living. Before going off to work we would often have early dinner with him. Always Chinese food, I was surprised when I found out later he was a line chef at Original Joe’s on Broadway and also at the famed Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel. For my Dad cooking was a passion. Both made down-home dishes like steamed pork patty with salted duck egg, hairy melon soup, steamed chicken with lop cheung (Chinese sausage) and black mushrooms, or whole fish (yes,that means the head too) with green onions and ginger. I savored eating these dishes and watching them prepare them. When I went off to school in Los Angeles, I would often call home to ask my Dad how to cook a favorite childhood dish. It was my connection with home and family and a way to keep them close.
A flurry of cooking this past week while the boys were home and the multiple “how do you make” calls from Jamie (who was stuck in Houston) prompted me to add a new section to 3Jamigos. I call it Soul Food. It’s down-home cooking, cherished recipes to share with family and friends. Hope you will try some. Or if you would like to share a family favorite, I would love to post it on my blog.
My inaugural post for Soul Food is a down-home favorite, savory steamed pork patty with salted duck egg. You can find it in hole-in-the-wall Cantonese (southern China) restaurants or if you get invited over for family dinner at any of your Cantonese friends’ homes. The ground pork is seasoned with soy sauce, oyster sauce and topped with the salted duck egg. Think of this as a version of a sausage patty topped with a fried egg. See, not so strange after all. My kids scoop up chunks of the patty and egg and mix it into their rice. Yum.
Things they don’t tell you in cookbooks. Although simple to make, there are pearls of kitchen wisdom on how to prepare this dish. First, the pork. My mom would tell me to buy pork butt or shoulder and hand-chop the pork at home, better texture. The pork itself should not be too lean as the fat adds flavor and keeps it from drying out. This primer on pork pretty much holds for any dish that requires ground pork-don’t buy pre-ground (ok, I cheat-there is a coarse ground version in Chinese markets).
Raw salted duck eggs are hard to find. I was really excited when I found local salted duck eggs at Marina Foods from Metzer Farms. Great quality. The eggs are brined in a salt solution for approximately a month. At the end of the month, the yolk has hardened, the white has a gelatin-like consistency, and the egg has a wonderful briny flavor that goes well with pork.
When mixing the seasonings and egg into the pork, stir in ONE DIRECTION only. So pick, clockwise or counter-clockwise and stick with it. DON’T ASK ME WHY (ok, I googled it, supposedly it keeps the meat tender). Beside that’s what my Dad told me to do.
Place seasoned pork in a glass pie plate, smooshing it around the plate. Fill a Chinese rice bowl 1/3-1/2 full with HOT water. Slowly pour the hot water into the pork, stirring and breaking up the pork further. The final mixture will be loose and wet looking. Slice the yolk of the duck egg into slivers or slices. A word of warning, it will be a little slimy feeling. Place the slivers of yolk on top of the pork distributed evenly around the patty. Top with green onions. Place in steamer and steam over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes.
Just before serving, garnish with more green onions or cilantro and a drizzle of oyster sauce. Serve with bowl of rice!
- 3/4 Pound Ground Pork
- 1 Egg, large
- 1 Salted Duck Egg
- 1/4-1/3 Rice Bowl Of hot water (approximately 1/2 cup)
- 2 tsp. Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp oyster sauce
- 2 tsp rice wine or sherry or sake
- 1/2 Tsp. Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- Dash of white pepper
- Green Onions And Cilantro
- Separate duck egg yolk from white. Reserve the yolk.
- Mix whole egg with the salted duck egg white.
- Combine pork with egg mixture and seasonings, stirring together (stir in one direction).
- Place In a glass pie plate. Slowly add hot water to mixture, scrambling mixture as you add the water to loosen the mixture. It will look soupy.
- Garnish With reserved egg yolk that has been cut Into slices.
- Steam For 12-15 minutes. Should not be pink at all.
- Top With Cilantro And Oyster Sauce If Desired.
- Serve with rice, lots of rice.