Gg’s Japanese Braised Pork & Onions

Cook this as a topping for a rice bowl (just crack in an egg and stir though, garnish with sliced spring onions) or a side dish in a meal. If you don’t eat pork, this works great with chicken as well.

Not so pretty-looking here but very nommy

Gg’s Japanese Braised Pork & Onions Recipe:
(serves 2)

Ingredients

Wearing contacts prevents tearing

Seasoning:

  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • drizzle sesame oil
  • pepper (to taste)
  • soy sauce (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients for the seasoning in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add pork to the seasoning and allow to marinate for 20 minutes to an hour. You may even leave it overnight.
Marinated and ready for the pan
  1. Heat oil in non-stick pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions; fry till softened and slightly brown on the edges.
I love the smell of onions cooking
  1. Add pork and toss. One to two minutes.
  2. Add dashi and stir until pork is cooked through.

Gg’s Lotus Root Soup

Never stinge on quality and quantity of your ingredients when cooking. This is especially true when making soup. I love drinking the broth as much as I do consuming the ingredients (so it is essential that there are enough ingredients to create a rich, flavourful broth as well as good ingredients for eating.

The pork used in the soup is most important as it is the flavour base of the broth. I prefer using the pig’s tail which encompasses the tail and a little of the spine. The Mumsy says the meat is extra sweet and tender in that area.  The skin covering the tail adds a little collagen stickiness and I also like that there is very little lard content which gives the soup the little fat it needs without causing it to be too greasy. The trotters and ribs are also very good for stock. If you have trouble deciding what to get, choose a part that has a good bone and meat ratio.

For those who do not eat pork, substitute with a lot of chicken parts. There is no comparison where flavour is concerned but it will do.

Lotus root is of course a must in this soup. For those unfamiliar, lotus root is the root portion of the lotus plant. It is said to be low in saturated fat yet rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Basically, it’s good for you. Eat more!

The beautiful lotus

The lotus root

For those worried about the oysters and cuttlefish imparting a fishy quality to the soup, fret not. The amount here is enough to enhance flavour but not overpower the soup. If you are really adverse to the stuff or are not able to find it, use more peanuts and lotus root. This is sacrilegious to me but you got to do what you got to do.

Be patient and wait out the cooking time. If you get impatient and boil it over a high heat, you speed things up but it’s just not the same. Just trust me on this. The second time I made lotus root soup, I was impatient. I didn’t get that same feeling of satisfaction.

I hope my lotus root soup brings you as much joy and fulfillment as it does to me…

Gg’s Lotus Root Soup Recipe:
(serves 1 – 6)

Ingredients

  • 4 big/ 6 medium/ 8 small individual lotus roots (washed and sliced into thick pieces)
  • 1 bulb garlic (halved horizontally)
  • as much pork bones as you like (chopped into big portions)
  • 1 medium-sized dried cuttlefish (rinsed)
  • 3 – 4 dried oysters (rinsed)
  • 2 – 3 handfuls raw small peanuts with skin on (rinsed)
  • 1 handful dried red dates or 2 – 3 large dried plums or both can be used together

Seasoning

Directions

  1. Combine lotus root and garlic in a big pot and add enough cold tap water to just cover. Bring to a boil over a high flame.

  1. Boil some water.
  2. Add all other ingredients except seasoning, turn down the fire to low and cover pot with lid.

Dried oysters and red dates hiding in there somewhere...

See how the soup already has some colour here? Wait till it has had its 6 to 8 hours.

  1. Simmer covered or transfer to slow cooker (on low) for at least three to four hours. Six to eight would be ideal.
  2. Season to taste and serve.

Gg’s Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu ranks high on my list of comfort foods. I’ve loved since the day I had it. I don’t remember when that happened but I just remember loving it. It came as a very pleasant surprise that my DCM was a fan of it too! What luck! We order it when we eat out and I love cooking it at home. While there’s the packaged sauce which makes an already very easy-to-cook dish even easier, it just doesn’t cut it (I tried it in my younger days and was not impressed). Szechuan pepper powder is key. I’d always made it without until I found a bottle of the stuff in the supermarket, tried it and I’ve never gone back since.

If you are pairing Mapo Tofu with fried rice, cook the Mapo Tofu first and let it braise gently while you cook the fried rice.

Gg’s Mapo Tofu Recipe:
(serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 300 grams minced pork
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • few sprigs spring onions (chopped)
  • 1 block of Fortune brand Chinese Tofu (cut into 8 pieces)

  Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee garlic black bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee chilli bean sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Szechuan pepper powder
  • ½ teaspoon white sugar
  • ½ cup water

Directions

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium fire.
  2. Combine seasoning ingredients in a bowl. Mix well.
  3. Once oil is smoking, add minced pork and stir vigorously to break up pork.
  4. Once pork loses its pink colour, add garlic and toss.
  5. Add seasoning and stir well.
  6. Turn fire down to small.
  7. Add tofu and mix.
  8. Braise uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes and sauce thickens.
  9. Add spring onions and serve.

Pork Hoarder Alert

“Any part of the piggy
Is quite all right with me
Ham from Westphalia, ham from Parma
Ham as lean as the Dalai Lama
Ham from Virginia, ham from York,
Trotters Sausages, hot roast pork.
Crackling crisp for my teeth to grind on
Bacon with or without the rind on
Though humanitarian
I’m not a vegetarian.
I’m neither crank nor prude nor prig
And though it may sound infra dig
Any part of the darling pig
Is perfectly fine with me.” Noel Coward

I always have pork in the fridge. I’m Chinese and my DCM hails from the land of pork, Denmark. We are two races/ nationalities obsessed with pork. Bacon is a staple. It never runs out and it is always streaky. And like the Mumsy, I always seem to have minced pork in the freezer. Even if I don’t use it during the week, I just get more the next week. Hoarder syndrome…

As I’d mentioned in I Am Hoarder, Hear Me Roar, I was having a ‘have to cook, haven’t done the groceries and can’t be arsed to leave the house’ sort of week. I’d exhausted quite a bit of resources in the kitchen and was cracking my brain over what I could make for Thursday dinner without having to go to the supermarket. I found Maple bacon, half a head of cabbage, eggs, minced pork and a pack of tofu. Bacon fried rice and Mapo Tofu immediately sprang to mind! Fried rice and Mapo tofu is my DCM’s favourite chinky food combination.

Fried rice is the home version of fast food. You dump everything into your pan or wok, mix it up and you’ve got an all-in-one-bowl, balanced meal in minutes. It’s also a great way to clear the fridge. Bacon fried rice is so easy and so nommy! To top it off, my DCM is a fan. See recipe here.

I adore tofu. Mapo Tofu is one of my all-time favourite dishes. Spicy, salty braised minced pork and tofu… On its own with a steaming bowl of rice on a cold, rainy day or any other day really is delicious simplicity at its best. See recipe here.

If you’ve had a long day and are not in the mood for much fuss yet want something good, this is the meal to make.