Category Archives: pork

Pea and ham soup

I love pea and ham soup. I find it so hearty and comforting and I love the vibrant green colour with the pink specks of ham (which really shouldn’t work as food) and was always a traditional post Christmas dish from the left over ham. I don’t have a proper butcher near me so I don’t have easy access to ham on the bone, but I have found a substitute which works well. Bacon bones can easily be found at Cold Storage and I use these as well as supplement with normal shaved/sliced ham.

Ingredients to make 6 -8 servings (make lots and freeze the leftovers for a quick dinner or snack later)

  1. 1 onion, diced
  2. 200g bacon bones
  3. 100 g finely sliced ham
  4. 200g split green peas (I’ve also used yellow when I couldn’t find green)
  5. 2 bay leaves

Method

  1. Sweat the onion over low heat until translucent
  2. Turn the heat to medium and fry the bacon bones, stirring occasionally for 10 mins
  3. Add the peas and bay leaves and enough water to just cover the peas
  4. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours
  5. Take out the bacon and let cool before shredding/slicing
  6. Remove the bay leaves and discard
  7. Blend the pea soup (without the bacon) until it’s the consistency you’d like.  Add more water if it’s too thick
  8. Add the bacon and the ham to the pureed soup and season if necessary

Home made sausage rolls from scratch

Homemade sausage rolls in puff and shortcrust pastry

I knew there was something odd about my shop in the supermarket that day – asking for that much minced pork struck me as strange. On auto-pilot, I carried on, paid and got home only to realise that I was trying to make sausage rolls with just minced pork and not sausage meat. Feeling a tad dusty from a few too many drinks the night before, the last thing I wanted to do was head back to the supermarket again, so I did a bit of research online hoping that I would have everything I needed already in the pantry or fridge.

I also found that night that I had just one sheet of puff pastry and decided to do half the mix with puff and the other with shortcrust pastry, thinking it might be just as good.  Final verdict – stick to puff – it had a better texture and flavour that worked better – with my sausage meat, anyway.

Essentially anything goes with sausages in terms of flavouring, but you need to ensure that you have sufficient fat in the sausage – apparently a minimum of 10%, to ensure that the sausage meat stays moist (I’d go for more, around 25%).

Here’s the recipe – measurements are estimated, my suggestion is that you fry a small pattie of the mix to check for flavour/seasoning before you commit to wrapping the entire lot in pastry.  But just have fun with what you have available and/or what you think will work together !

Ingredients – makes about 8 individual sausage rolls about 10cm in length

  • 400g minced pork – don’t pick the lean pork mince if you have a choice
  • 100g fat – pork fat if you can get it, I had duck fat which I used and it added a nice gamey flavour to my sausage meat
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbls dried sage (or handful of fresh if you have it)
  • 2 tbls maple syrup
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Combine pork, fat, sage, maple syrup, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl and mix well with your hands.  You can test for flavour and seasoning by frying off small patties
  3. Shape into 4 round logs about 5cm in diameter and about 1 cm short of the length of the pastry (this allows some space for the meat to expand as it cooks)
  4. Place on the pastry about 3cm from one side and roll the pastry over the sausage meat, cut the pastry so that you have an overlap of about 2-3cm
  5. Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges and seal
  6. Continue until you finish all the sausage meat, you should have four long sausage rolls.  You can leave it there or I cut each in half to make them a bit more manageable to eat
  7. Arrange on a roasting rack over a tray and brush the rest of the beaten egg over the pastry
  8. Bake in oven for 20 – 25 mins or until golden brown

Sausage and bean casserole

I had sausages.  I had beans.  What to make for dinner ?  Why, a sausage and bean casserole of course !  Add in bacon and leeks and I had a casserole that’s pretty quick and easy to make and a delicious way to end a Monday. (I do wish that I lived in a country with seasons.  The subtle heat of the cayenne pepper and the comforting casserole would make it a perfect winter warmer)

Ingredients (makes a big pot that would serve 4-6)

  1. 6 good quality sausages
  2. 2 large leeks
  3. 5 rashers bacon, chopped
  4. 1 tin mixed beans (you could easily accommodate another tin if you like beans) rinsed until the water goes clear
  5. 1 glass of wine
  6. 1 cup chicken stock
  7. pinch cayenne pepper
  8. handful fresh parsley if you can get it, chopped

Method:

  1. In a large casserole dish, brown the sausages, take out, slice into pieces and set aside
  2. Fry the bacon pieces until nice and crispy.  Take out and set aside
  3. Reduce the heat and fry the leeks for about 3-4 minutes until soft
  4. Turn up the heat and add the wine and bring to the boil.  Let boil for 2-3 minutes for the alcohol to burn off
  5. Add the stock and then put the sausages and bacon (leave a few of the crispier pieces as a garnish) back in the pot, with the beans and cayenne pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the beans are warmed through – don’t bring it to boil or the beans will go mushy
  6. Serve, topped with chopped parsley and bacon bits, and with some crusty bread

 

 


Din Tai Fung

xiao long bao – steamed pork dumplings

I’d never really understood the obsession with xiao long bao – steamed pork dumplings .  I’d only ever tried it during yum cha and I think it was the dough which I always thought was too thick.

Then I discovered that Din Tai Fung – the celebrated Taiwanese restaurant awarded one Michelin Star and ranked as one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants by the New York Times – was in Singapore.

My friends back in Sydney used to trek to Ashfield to Din Tai Fung and always waxed lyrical about them – so I decided to visit the outlet at Raffles City.  And now I realise what the fuss is all about.

Everything is hand-made on the premises, from the dough to the filling(s) and I watched in wonder at the chefs all rolling out the individual dumpling skins to almost paper thinness but thick enough to hold the dumpling filling which is minced pork and soup (created by wrapping a piece of aspic inside the skin alongside the meat filling. Heat from steaming then melts the gelatin-gelled aspic into soup).

You have to time eating your dumplings well – too soon and the hot soup might burn your mouth.  Too late and the soup becomes too cold.  But at just the right time, when you break the skin in your mouth (you have to put the dumpling whole into your mouth) releasing all the ingredients and flavours to mix, it’s just heaven.

The “replacement” dumpling for the broken-skinned one from our original order (look carefully at the photo above, you can see it !)

I’ve been often enough now to know that the rest of the food on the limited menu is also very good, but go for the hero of the show.  They are clearly passionate about perfection – the last time I went they even sent over a single dumpling because one of our original order had a broken skin.

Be prepared to wait though, the place is almost always packed, to the point where at peak times they won’t even seat you unless your entire table are present.  I think it’s worth the wait though.

Din Tai Fung
Raffles City Shopping Centre
252 North Bridge Road
#B1-08 (there are 6 outlets in total throughout Singapore)
Tel: 6336 6369


Bilbao

Iberico ham from Bilbao

Bilbao’s card says it is a restaurant, gastrobar & delicatessen featuring the cuisines of Spain.  I chanced upon Bilbao on show at the Isetan on Scotts supermarket.  Seemed strange to see Spanish produce in the middle of a Japanese supermarket, but who cares when you see a leg of Iberico ham being sliced for a customer ?

If you’ve read my blog regularly, you’ll know that Iberico ham is one of my favourite foods.  Nothing quite beats the intense sweet and salty flavour of this ham.  If it appears on a menu, you’re pretty much guaranteed it will be ordered by me.  I have only ever seen Iberico ham on offer to the lowly commoner in Burrough Markets in London, so to see it in sale in a supermarket, not sliced by machine and vacuum-packed, but hand sliced (skillfully thin as well, I might add), I was absolutely thrilled.  All other plans for dinner (I think I was planning to roast a chicken) flew out the window.

100g of the ham in my basket, I wandered over to look at the other offerings from Bilbao.  I chose the Spanish pork sausage, which wasn’t anything too dissimilar to the bratwurst sausage you can buy from the supermarket (but which we love) and a bottle of Spanish sparkling wine – the Spanish equivalent of Italian prosecco.

What was left of the Spanish pork sausage before I remembered to take a photo

The sausages were served simply grilled with various mustards and tomato sauce and home-made coleslaw.  I made the coleslaw with extra onions to cut through the richness of the sausages, and the sparkling wine was crisp and dry, which also complemented the salty dinner we had.

We were so excited I forgot to take a picture of the sausages before we ate !  Looking forward to visiting the restaurant and the deli to check out the other goodies Bilbao has to offer.

Bibao
111 Somerset Road #02-16 Singapore (formerly known as the PUB building)
Tel: 6737 0150


The elusive burger no more…

My homemade burger

Inspired by a post I read on Chubby Hubby on burgers, I decided to make burgers for dinner tonight (clearly on a much less posh scale).

Burgers have always been a bit hit and miss for me – they seem to turn out dry and I have struggled with getting the sort of flavour that you get in burger joints without overseasoning the meat or without lashings of sauce in the bun.  And getting good (or sometimes any) burger buns easily in Singapore is also a challenge.

So I decided to give them another try and just go with what I could get my hands on in the supermarket.

The one thing that I did take from Chubby Hubby’s post was to mix beef and pork mince together instead of just beef.  The end result of what I’m about to write below was excellent – a juicy and tasty burger – hurrah !  Not bad for a Wednesday night dinner at home.

Ingredients (makes about 6 generous patties) (ps these measurements are as close as I can make them especially the seasoning so adjust to taste)

  1. 300g beef mince
  2. 100g pork mince
  3. 1 red onion, finely chopped
  4. 1 egg (raw)
  5. handful mushrooms, chopped finely
  6. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  7. 1/2 – 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  8. 1 tbs tomato sauce
  9. 1 tbs steak sauce
  10. freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Mix everything together with your hands (so satisfying)
  2. Shape into palm-sized patties (I made them to fit the buns I bought from the supermarket) and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes
  3. Fry in a pan for 2-3 minutes each side (for the thickness shown in the photo above)
  4. While patties are cooking, lightly toast the buns
  5. Top the pattie with whatever you want – we had lettuce, tomato sauce, mustard and pickles but you could add cheese, onion jam or even just onion rings

Sticky gooey oven-roasted pork ribs

I was in the supermarket this morning when I spotted the most “meaty” rack of pork ribs I have seen in a while.  I simply had to have them, and given that it’s a weekend, I have lots of time to prepare and marinade them to be roasted in the oven tomorrow for a Monday night dinner treat.

A little planning ahead is all that’s needed.

You need about 4 good sized ribs per person (more if you’re greedy)

Prepare ahead this barbeque sauce (I got this recipe from Fransisca on CD Kitchen – it’s the same as Tony Roma’s Blue Ridge Smokey sauce)

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup ketchup
  2. 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  3. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  4. 1/8 cup molasses
  5. 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  8. 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  9. 1/8 teaspoon onion powder

Makes 1 1/2 cups (plenty for two people)

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat, and whisk until smooth
  2. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until sauce has thickened
  3. In the meantime, remove the membrane from the bony side of the ribs and then simmer the ribs for 50-60 minutes so they’re soft and tender
  4. Cover the ribs all over in the barbecue sauce and place in a foil-lined baking tray meat side up
  5. Save any left over sauce in a covered bowl
  6. Cover with foil and let marinate in the fridge overnight

THE NEXT DAY

  1. Preheat oven to 160C
  2. Use the remaining barbecue sauce to cover the ribs with a really really thick layer of the sauce
  3. Pop into the oven for an hour – the idea is that you want to dry the sauce on the ribs to give them that wonderfully sticky gooey texture
  4. Serve with coleslaw, corn on the cob and an oven-roasted potato (which you can just pop into the oven with the ribs)

Bangers and mash with red wine onion gravy

Simple and great pub grub (although I do tend to use a lot of saucepans and frying pans…)

Ingredients (for two)

  1. 4 sausages – I like quite plain (ie less herby) sausages and favour English Cumberland sausages which I can easily get in my supermarket in normal sized sausage shapes (not the traditional long sausage in a coil)
  2. 2 large waxy potatoes, peeled
  3. 1 red onion, finely sliced
  4. 1/2 cup red wine
  5. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. Start with the potatoes – put them in a pot filled with cold water and bring to boil (don’t add them to hot water or they will go mushy and cook unevenly).  Cook for 10-15 minutes until soft.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, gently sweat the onions in some butter and oil until soft and translucent.
  3. Fry the sausages in another frying pan in about 1cm of water, turning as they brown.  The water helps to cook the sausages more evenly and will evaporate by the time you want the sausages to caramelise.
  4. Once the potatoes are cooked, strain and either mash them or for a super smooth mash, put them through a potato ricer, and add salt and butter to taste.  You can also add a splash of milk to make it even more creamy.  Cover and put aside to keep warm.
  5. Once the onions are soft, turn the heat up to high and add the red wine and balsamic vinegar.  Bring to boil for about 2-3 minutes so the alcohol evaporates.  Add more or less wine or balsamic to taste.
  6. Plate up.  I like to put a generous amount of mash on the plate first, place the sausage on top, and then ladle the gravy over both.
  7. Of course you can serve them with any vegetables you want eg portabello mushrooms or broccoli for something green.

Terrific Tapas in Tanglin

Calamares – lightly floured and deep fried squid rings

Well, it’s not officially in Tanglin, but Orchard Road didn’t sound as good 🙂

Good tapas seems to be very hit and miss.  Which surprises me because the preparation of the dishes is relatively simple – tapas relies on good produce to speak for itself.  The few places we’ve tried in Singapore are more for convenience – like Que Pasa, because it’s a lovely place to have a bottle of wine rather than because of the food (although the food there is certainly passable).

Marinated mixed olives

Trying to find a restaurant that was open on the second day of Chinese New Year seemed to be a problem, and we were thrilled that Bodega Y Tapas on Orchard Road was a) open and b) had space for us.  It was busy when we got there, which it always seems to be when I pass it, and we were quickly ushered to our lounge chairs to have our dinner indoors.  The space indoors doesn’t allow for larger groups but it’s a nice intimate area to have dinner for two or maybe three people.

The tapas menu is extensive, which made choosing difficult, but one of the benefits of tapas is that you can sample lots of little dishes.

A generous bowl of marinaded mixed olives started the meal, which worked wonderfully with the sangria that I ordered.

jamon iberico de bellota

Then came 80g of jamon iberico de bellota – ham made from free-range pigs fed exclusively on black acorns and aged for 36 months.  I love that it was hand-carved from the actual leg of the ham – it adds a certain rustic feel to the ham and I swear it makes it taste better than the machine-sliced iberico ham that you get in the hotel buffets.  Although, to be fair, serve it to me any way and I love this stuff.  It’s the sort of ham that you chew and chew and almost don’t want to swallow so that you can savour the intense flavour of the ham (including the fat) in your mouth.  I recall a very good tip from Chef Ryan Clift of Tippling Club, which was the longer you chewed jamon Iberico, the better the flavour, as it “excites” all the different taste bud sensations on your tongue.

Cold cut meat platter

We also ordered a platter of cold cuts – the waitress was a bit vague on exactly what was on the plate but we had two types of pork sausage (one with and the other without chilli), air-dried beef (sort of like bresaola but with a more jerky appearance, served with a drizzle of olive oil and slivered almonds) and a dried sliced pork loin.  Also on this dish were baguette slices that had a dollop of delicious finely chopped tomato salsa that you could almost serve as gazpacho.  It was light and refreshing and absolutely worked with the cured meat.

Lightly floured and deep fried anchoview

For warm food we had chorizo – simply fried, and calamari and anchovies, both lightly floured and deep fried, which, for me, were the winners of the evening.  The calamari was soft and tender – not overcooked or tough, and served with a garlic mayonnaise – quite standard, but probably the best I’ve had in a while, and the anchovies just needed a squeeze of lemon juice over them to be eaten whole.  Again, I love anchovies, and these reminded me of the fantastic ones we had at Valentinos.

All in all, this is a brilliant find for D and I and if our dinner last night was anything to judge the rest of the food there by, I know we’ll be back again to work our way through that menu.

Bodega Y Tapas
Orchard Hotel
442 Orchard Road
Tel: 6735 3476


Dolmades

Dolmades with tzatziki

After a week of eating out with my parents while they’ve been visiting, I felt like I needed to a) eat something home-cooked and b) spend some time fiddling around in the kitchen.  The answer: make dolmades.

Healthy and time consuming, it’s the perfect panacea for me, and adding that my office is closed between Christmas and New Year, meant that I had all the necessary ingredients to make them – food as well as time.

Dolmades – Greek stuffed vine leaves are delicious and adaptable to what you feel like on the day.  Tonight I felt like pork in the stuffing.  You can substitute that for any other kind of meat (it’s traditionally made with beef or lamb mince) or take it vegetarian and leave the meat out altogether.  Serve with a good dollop (or bowl!) of tangy tzatziki.

Ingredients (to make around a dozen average sized dolmades)

  • 1/2 cup of uncooked shortgrain rice – you can use white or brown (I used brown tonight)
  • 1 cup water for white rice, 1 1/2 cups water for brown rice
  • Handful pinenuts
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 150g pork mince (or more if you prefer a meatier version.  Leave out for a vegetarian option)
  • Handful dill
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vine leaves x 12 plus a few extra to line the bottom of the saucepan
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Tzatziki to serve (recipe below)

Method (for stuffing):

  1. Cook the rice by simmering the rice in the water for 10-15 mins for white rice, 40 mins for brown rice
  2. Toast the pinenuts in a frying pan.  Set aside
  3. Brown mince.  Set aside
  4. Gently sweat the onions
  5. Add the browned mince, rice, pinenuts and dill and season lightly

Method (for wrapping):

  1. Line a heavy-based saucepan with a few vine leaves
  2. Take a vine leaf and place on a large plate with the raised veins of the leaf underneath and the stalk away from you.
  3. Place a spoonful of the stuffing in the middle across the leaf
  4. Fold the bottom part of the leaf up first, then roll, wrapping the parcel with the left and right sides of the leaf, until you have a little parcel
  5. Place on top of the vine leaves in the saucepan.
  6. Continue to pack them snugly in the base of the saucepan as you make them
  7. Once you have wrapped them all, pour over the olive oil and lemon juice – you can also add some of the brine from the jar of vine leaves (which will add salt, hence seasoning the stuffing lightly)
  8. Weigh down with a plate
  9. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for an hour
  10. Once the hour is up, turn off the heat and let them cool in the saucepan with the lid on
  11. Store in the fridge with a generous drizzle of olive oil

Tzatziki – mix in a large bowl:

  1. 1 x 500g tub natural yoghurt – look for the ones which are naturally set in the tub as they are thicker – strain out excess liquid
  2. 3 medium lebanese cucumbers (or equivalent), skin and seeds removed and then grated – sprinkle salt over to draw excess liquid out and then squeeze the grated cucumber to get rid of as much liquid as possible
  3. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  4. Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
  5. 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 – 4 tbs finely chopped mint or dill
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. Cover and let sit in the fridge for a few hours for the flavours to develop