31 August 2011

Ruoc thit heo (shredded pork)

I was a little bit hesitant about sharing this recipe. Not because it wasn’t tasty, but because I think it’s not something for everyone. But after I let my boss have a taste and he liked it, I thought why not. Maybe you get to like it as well.

When we grew up (I have 3 “little” sisters) we were always so exited when mom decided to make this. We love ruoc, either just like that or with bread or rice. My mom always makes it with 4-5 ingredients: pork, garlic, fish sauce, fresh ground pepper and sugar. Although her pork was cooked for a long time it was still very hard to pull apart and that was the part we all hated. It took forever to shred all the pork in itsy bitsy pieces and after a while all our fingers would hurt. Her pork has barely any fat at all and yes, it is almost the best cut of pork you can get, but for my ruoc I like to use less expensive pork with a bit more fat.
I actually use the same cut of pork as for my roast pork recipe. I think it is what you call the leg/ham part of the pig. Basically any cut that has lots of meat and a bit of fat is good.
I started with cutting one onion and about one head of garlic and stir fried that in a bit of oil till it was golden brown. Then all the meat (about 1 kilo, maybe a bit more) went in.
When the meat was no longer red I added about half a cup of fish sauce, 3 cups of water (enough to cover the meat) and had a taste. Of course it is very salty so I added some sugar to balance it out. I’m looking for a salty, sweet marinade. I also added a lot of fresh ground pepper.
Now all I had to do is to wait till everything is cooked through and the meat is almost falling apart. I kept an eye on it so I could scoop out all the foam and once that was done I could sit down and relax.

It took quite some time for the water to reduce down and because at this point the meat was almost falling apart (after about 1-2 hours), I took the meat out and cooked the marinade till there was about 1 cm left on the bottom of the pan. The marinade turned into this sticky thick sauce. This would help to flavor the meat more.

After shredding it in little pieces I put a handful in a plastic colander and used my hand to roll them around inside the colander. This would help to break the meat apart more and to fluff them up a bit. I was too busy doing this that I didn’t take a picture. It took me a couple of batches to get this done.

I put the meat back into the pan with the sauce and mixed everything.

Then it was time to “dry” the meat. It was too much to do it all in one time so I divided it in 2 batches. In a pan (I used a wok) half of the meat went in. I tossed and turned them on medium heat till the meat was golden brown and dry.
This is how it should look like. Now that I looked at it again it kinda looks like sheep’s wool.

We use to bring it back from Vietnam, but since we have no clue what they put in there, it is better to make it ourselves. It takes a bit of time but it takes some time to eat it as well.

I remember seeing this on a bun together with some pate, cuts of meat and picked carrots and daikon root. Maybe you've tried this combo before. 

It was enough for 3 jars and I keep them in the fridge. They will stay good for quite some time, but normally don’t last longer then a couple of weeks; especially since I always give some out to my sisters. They never made it themselves, but of course love to eat it. My sisters will be so happy when they get their own jar this weekend.

I love to eat it with rice, either fresh hot rice or one day old cold rice. I made these balls with old cold rice and rolled them in the ruoc. It was a great snack!

29 August 2011

Roast "red" pork

I wanted to make some cha siu bao from scratch, but didn’t get much further then the cha siu roast pork. Mom and dad came over for the weekend and mom said you need some kind of special flour to get the nice and white bun. So no cha siu bao…yet…If we manage to stay away from the roast pork long enough I might be able to make the bao in a couple of days.

I wrote all the seasoning on an itsy bitsy paper I need to post the recipe before it gets lost.
For my roast red pork of course I use the roast red pork seasoning mix. In fact I use it in most of my meat rubs. And it is great in sparerib marinade so I always have a stack of these packages in my pantry.
From the top left to the right I used: lots of fresh ground pepper, half a tablespoon of garlic powder, half a teaspoon ground star anise and half a teaspoon paprika powder, one teaspoon salt, half a tablespoon of ginger powder and 2 tablespoons of roast red pork seasoning.
I found these beautiful cuts of pork. It has lots of meat on it and also a little bit of fat. The fat makes it less dry I think.
I gave them all a good rub down and after every piece was covered with the seasoning I put them in a container so all the flavors could develop.
After sitting in the fridge for 2 days it was time to make roast pork!
I fried them in some oil first to sear the meat and lock those nice juices in. Then they went into an 180C degrees oven for 15-18 minutes. They were so tasty and juicy that my hubby had some slices on a regular white bun. It tasted just like cha siu bao he said. Mission accomplished =)

Ps: if they don’t end up in a bun for breakfast/lunch we will have these for dinner tomorrow with some rice and veggies.
It was very hard not snacking on the meat but we managed to save them. This was last night’s dinner!

25 August 2011

Chicken sate bitterballen

I know you all are very curious of what I did with the chicken I made earlier. Well it was sitting in my fridge (where would we be without refrigerators) till yesterday. I wasn’t in the mood for eating it with rice or noodles or bread. Instead I wanted to transform it to another dish, but couldn’t decide. Shall I make chicken pot pie, or pasta with chicken or a simple chicken omelet?
Then it hit me; why not make chicken sate bitterballen. For the non Dutchies out there, a "bitterbal” is the “krokets” younger sister. Or more like smaller, rounder sister. There is no English translation of it so a bitterbal is a bitterbal and a kroket is what you call a croquet. Apparently croquets are more familiar that’s why there is an English word for it. But both are delish and we Dutchies love them. My absolute favorite is the one with chicken sate.

I have never ever made chicken sate bitterballen before, so this is a first. I think it is first for most of you. Although it is not difficult to make, it is of course so much easier to buy it. And they have very good ones in the frozen section (if you live in Holland) or you can pull it out of the wall. Fast easy and super “lekker”. Well since I’m making a typical Dutch snack I thought I’d throw in some more Dutch words.

This is a dish you have to make one day ahead, or have plenty of room in your freezer because it has to set for some time.

This is what I used:
-          500 ml water
-          10 tablespoons of sate mix (same package I used for my peanut soup)
-          50 gram butter (note to myself: about 1cm)
-          50 gram flour (2 full tablespoons)
-          1 onion
-          1 teaspoon of salt
-          1 teaspoon of hot chili sauce
-          1 small roast chicken
-          10 tablespoons of water (next time I won’t put extra water in the mixture) 

I started with boiling the water with the sate mixture. If I would make a different kind of bitterballen I would boil the water with one bouillon cube. After it boils for a couple of minutes I took it off the stove and let it cool down a bit.
I took all the meat off the chicken and chopped it in small cubes. I guess you can use your hands to tear it apart as well, but I thought chopping would be faster and easier. That one little chicken was enough for this bowl of meat.

I also chopped one onion in small cubes.
All the ingredients are ready.
The butter went into the pot as well as half of the chopped onion. After the onion became translucent I added the flour.
As the stove was on medium I turned it to low so I could slowly cook the flour mixture.
Then slowly bit by bit I added the sate sauce. I incorporated the sauce in the flour before I poured more.

Because the mixture looked too thick I added some extra water. Next time I wouldn’t because it turned out that the mixture had the right thickness. So please DON’T add any extra water.

I only wanted to use half an onion, but I thought why not so I added the other half.
After it cooked for a bit I added the chicken and some chopped spring onion. Just because it was sitting in my fridge, so it’s optional.

I tasted the mixture and added the salt and the chili sauce. Add as much or as little as you like. If the stuffing taste good your bitterballen will do to.
I waited till it started to bubble and then poured the mixture in a tray. I covered it with plastic foil and put it in the fridge so it could cool off and hopefully thicken.
Today I put the flour, the eggs and the breadcrumbs ready. I took the chicken sate mixture out of the fridge and I was happy to see that it was a bit thick, but not thick enough as I discovered later. So DON’T add the extra water!! I can’t stress it enough.
I used my mini ice cream scooper to scoop little balls and drop them in the flour. As they weren’t firm enough it was difficult to form them in little balls.

I did the best I could and after they were covered I rolled them through the egg mixture and right into the bread crumbs.
Well this one looked pretty round…for now…

At first I did one at the time and then found it easier to just scoop a batch, roll them in all the mixtures and the start a new batch. This so I don’t have to wash my hands all the time.
I poured enough oil in my pan to cover at least half of the bitterballen and waited till it was hot enough. I always put my hand above the oil and if it feels hot enough, it is good to go. You can also drop a little bit of dough in the oil and when it immediately started to bubble up you know it’s good. But I found that the hand method works well for me.

Of course you if you have a frying pan it is easier to fry these. And it helps if you have enough oil to cover the balls, but if not then just make sure it will cover at least half of it.

If you can fry spring rolls you can fry bitterballen =)

Since they are freshly made they only need a couple of minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on them and flip them over once they are golden. If your heat is right they will not burst. You don’t want that nice chicken sate to ooze out.
After all this hard work it is reward time!
Bitterballen are the best straight out of the pan. Just a little warning; make sure you don’t burn yourself. The chicken sate stuffing can burn your mouth and ruin it for you.

Ps: I made so much I had to put some in the freezer. I froze them on plate first, making sure they didn’t touch each other and after they froze a little I put them together in a bag. If you put them in a bag straight away you will never manage to separate them again. Next time I’d like to eat them I would just through them in the hot oil, no defrosting needed. Since they are frozen they need a bit more time.

22 August 2011

Roast chicken

Ok remember I said I would post a recipe for reusing the sparerib marinade tomorrow? Now normally tomorrow is not a couple of days later, but I was kinda busy the rest of the week and this weekend.

My friend and his gf came over from Vietnam and stayed for the night. We met during summer camp when we were both 17-18 and kept in touch since. He use to live in Holland but decided to follow his brother and go to Vietnam for work. There he met this cute girl who happens to have the same name as me. So it is kinda confusing. But work out ok since she calls me “chi” which means big sister and I call her “em” (little sister). It is the appropriate way to address someone who is older or younger then you. As I am a few month older then my friend he should call me “chi” as well, but among friends we just use each others names or just speak Dutch. In Dutch and English everything is you and me.

We stayed up talking till 2.30 in the morning and I got up at 8. I was beat! That’s one of the first signs that I'm getting old. My body isn’t used to staying up late and wake up early. It took me 3 days to recover!
When I was dating my hubby (long distance) I stayed up till 3-4 in the morning to talk to him and got out of bed at 8 to get to work. And I was fine! Not tired at all. But that was then when I was young and flexible =)

So now that’s out of the way I'll get back to my sparerib marinade. And this recipe is just dead simple. After all the afford I put into making the marinade it helps to know that I get 2 meals out of it.
I dropped one whole chicken in the marinade and I just let it hang out in there. As I was leaving the pot outside I brought it to a boil and flipped the chicken over and cooked it for another couple of minutes. I took it off the stove and left it swimming in the marinade for one day.
The next day I cooked it again till the chicken was done.
This chicken was so soft and juicy and all it needed was a bit more color.

So I brushed it with some sweet chili sauce and put it in the oven I heated on 180C degrees for 10-15 minutes. Make sure you flip it after 5-7 minutes and that you’ll keep an eye on it.

When your chicken is golden brown it is time to eat. It’s great with rice or noodles. Even with bread it’s great.

I just had so much food left that this one is now waiting for me in the fridge. I have big plans with this chicken. 

18 August 2011

Fall of the bone tender spareribs

My first job ever was at the Sparerib Express. I was 17 (starting from 16 you are allowed to work) and was looking for a part time after school job for about one year. No one seems to be interested in offering me a job so I was over the moon when the Sparerib Express hired me. I worked from 3 till 10 every Saturday and Sunday and pretty much all the holidays. Now that I think off it, I guess I didn’t have much of a life since I had time to work in the weekends.

I was in charge of making spareribs, meaning that I had to make sure there was enough meat for that night since everything is made fresh and heated up in the microwave when ordered. My boss had this super super secret sparerib marinade recipe which he of course never shared with me. All our customers thought they would get spareribs off the grill but in fact it was just spareribs boiled in marinade. I didn’t think the ribs were that great till I tried some at an all you can eat place. That really made me appreciates the Sparerib Express’s ribs more.

Many years later after some more disappointing sparerib meals I decided to make up my own recipe.

So today I am sharing my very own very, special secret sparerib recipe that will rock you off your socks. It is sooooooo good there are not enough “o” for so. And it is so secret that even I don’t remember the recipe. The recipe changes depending on what I have in my pantry, but some elements stay the same. This is what I used this time.
From left to right: roast red pork seasoning or (sha siu seasoning), hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketjap manis (sweet ketjap), soy sauce, sweet soy sauce and a can of diced tomatoes.
Spices starting from the bottom: ginger powder, 5 spices powder, star anise powder, paprika powder, cumin powder and some whole star anise seeds. I also used 2 fresh bay leaves.
Not in the picture but I also used some honey (any kind you have), some salt and pepper and garlic and onion.
I started with sautéing one big chopped onion and a whole lot of garlic. After they brown I added the bay leaves and all the spices. I continue to stir it around so the spices can release all those nice flavors.
Then a whole bottle of ketjap manis, the whole package of red pork seasoning, 3 big table spoons of hoisin sauce, some dashes of Worcestershire sauce, some spoons of soy sauce and some spoons of sweet soy sauce and a whole can of tomatoes went in. I also added some water so there was enough marinade to cook the ribs in.
I gave it a quick stir and after it boiled I had a taste and added some salt, pepper and about 5-6 tablespoons of honey. I agree the mixture doesn’t look appealing, but wait till the ribs are done.
I rinsed about 2 kilo spareribs and cut them in smaller pieces.
Everything went into the pot and I made sure all the meat was covered. I boiled this on low/medium heat for about 1-2 hours till the meat was tender, but not falling off the bone yet. I set it aside and continued the next day.
Now that the meat has been cooked and soaked in the marinade it is time to finish it off with my secret ingredient, peanut butter. I brought the marinade to a boil and added 3 big tablespoons of peanut butter.
After the peanut butter is fully incorporated and the mixture boiled for a couple of more minutes the ribs were done. By this time the meat is nice and soft and barely holding the bone apart.

Make sure you keep the marinade! Since it takes some time to make it, you need to take maximum advantage of it and I will show you how tomorrow.
Now it is time for the finishing touch. I coated the ribs with some sweet chili sauce and put them on a rack in the oven on 200C degrees for about 7-8 minute, just so that they get a nice brown color.
We ate it with some homemade fries and a simple salad.
This plate was only half of the amount that we had and me and my sister finished it all! Man we literally pigged out!
I promised fall of the bone tender spareribs and did I deliver?
I would say YES I did big time!

Ps: these ribs can go on the bbq as well. I would just add the peanut butter right at the end and not boil it the second time. The meat needs to be a bit more firm so they won’t fall apart on the bbq.

16 August 2011


Tonight’s dinner was easy peasy but so satisfying. My boehoe opened a package of wraps/flour tortillas a couple of days ago and they had to be eaten before turning bad. I know you can keep and unopened package for quite some time but once it is opened it is better to eat it asap.

I am sure there is a difference between wraps, tortillas and burritos but tonight I can’t be bothered. I need food!

All together I took me 30 minutes to prepare this and about 5 minutes to eat 2 of them.
I used 500 gram minced meat (half pork, half beef) and seasoned it with some salt, pepper, garlic powder, some cumin powder, paprika powder, 5 spices powder, a bit of cinnamon, a bit of dried oregano and a dash of oyster sauce. This was added to the fried onion and garlic after they brown. 

After the meat was done I added some big junks of tomato and one cubed bell pepper. As there was a lot of liquid I waited till some of it evaporated.  
My dinner table: the meat, the veggies and the sauces.
I like my wrap with some garlic sauce, slices of tomato, meat, slices of avocado, some dots of cream fresh and some iceberg lettuce. 

Did you noticed that the wrap is actually bigger then my plate? 
After chewing down half a wrap I needed a break. Well actually I needed to take some pictures.
The first wrap is always the prettiest. The second one was twice as thick and couldn’t even fit in my mouth. I wish I could describe how good it was, but I can’t. I guess you’ll have to figure it out yourself.