Steamed pork patty is one of the comfort foods that many Chinese families grow up with and it’s a dish that continues to encourage young kids to eat their dinners and more rice.
It is when the weather starts to get colder in the Northern Hemisphere, that foods preserved during abundance start appearing. The Cantonese are especially adept in preparing this dish, which is usually steamed with a preserved ingredient such as salted fish, salted egg, preserved vegetables or fermented black beans.
Depending on the chosen preserve, the accompaniments in the dish will vary a bit. For instance, with preserved radish or cabbage, the whites of the scallion are usually separated to be added into the patty to resemble the preserved vegetable, while the green is used for garnish. With salted fish, ginger is used to cut the fishiness and wine to balance the flavour.
The salted fish of choice is kurau, but you may also use other varieties for this dish. When cooking this dish for children, it is advisable to use just the meat of the salted fish to avoid kids not knowing how to pick out the bones. But for deeper flavour, salted fish bones can add more intense umami and the taste of the sea.
The older folks would advise that the salted fish be soaked in water for about 10 minutes to get rid of excess salt, but I find that if I don’t add salt into the pork patty, the salt in the fish contributes enough salt to the entire dish. You may need to adjust the soy sauce amount in the seasoning accordingly.
For any steamed pork patty, a slurry of cornstarch and water is added into the marinade to achieve a smooth melt-in-the-mouth texture. I usually marinate the pork for half an hour for the meat to absorb the liquid and expand, resulting in a fluffy meat patty when cooked.
Do remember to brush some oil on the dish that the meat will be steamed in to prevent it from sticking. I usually make use of the shallot oil left from frying shallot chips for the garnish, but you may also use cooking oil straight from the bottle.
You may garnish the dish with scallions and coriander, which add an aromatic freshness to the dish. But to keep this dish child-friendly you may omit them because some children, such as my daughter, are not fond of these herbs. But she loves the delicious liquid that surrounds the dish and can eat a lot of rice drenched in its heady aroma.
Addictive as the dish may be, just eat this occasionally because overconsumption of salted fish has been attributed as the cause for cancer in Hong Kong.
- 500g ground pork
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 10g ginger, julienned
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- ¼ cup shaoxing wine
- ¼ cup cold water
- 20g salted fish bones or 10g salted fish meat
- 2 stalks scallions or spring onion, diced
- Shallot Oil:
- 4 bulbs shallots, sliced into rings
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- Combine the ground pork with sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper, ginger, cornstarch, wine and water. Add more water if necessary to form a wet, almost pourable meat slurry. Then marinate in the chiller for about 30 minutes.
- Heat cooking oil in a frying pan over medium to fry sliced shallots until crispy and light golden. Separate the crispy shallot chips from the oil to be used as a garnish. Place about a tablespoon of shallot oil into a dish or glass baking tray and brush the oil all over the bottom and sides of the dish.
- Pour the meat slurry into the dish and smooth the top to level the patty. Cut the salted fish into small pieces with kitchen shears and scatter them over the top of the pork patty.
- Steam the pork patty over boiling water for 10-15 minutes until cooked. Test for doneness with a skewer to check that the juice runs clear if the pork is fully cooked.
- Garnish with crispy shallot chips and diced scallion and serve immediately with steamed rice.