There are certain dishes that transport me back to the time when I was just about a foot tall, standing on my grandma’s clogs trying hard to peep into her wok to see what she was cooking. Life was simple then. No worries, no concerns, no cares.
Food didn’t have to be magnificently gourmet. Even the presentation didn’t have to be spectacular. As long as grandma made it, I knew it would be good. We didn’t live with my grandparents. But on occasion, I’d stay over at my maternal grandparent’s home. It always felt like a special treat.
Mornings always began with us coming downstairs and wishing grandpa and grandma Good Morning. Popo (as we would call our maternal grandma) would be making coffee and Milo. Ah Kung (my late maternal grandpa) would be reading his papers while toasting up some wholemeal bread. The radio would be turned on to a Cantonese station.
Ah Kung always had the same breakfast. Toast with margerine, peanut butter and sugar free jam with a steaming cup of coffee. Popo would have something similar. And for us kids, this was breakfast for prince and princesses. I could replicate that same breakfast at home but it never tasted the same out of that kitchen with Ah Kung and Popo. To this day, my brothers say the same.
When dinnertime rolled on, Popo would ask me what I’d like to have. You’d already know that my favourite request is Ho Lan Shue Kai (Potato Chicken). My second favourite request would be her Chu Yuk Zheng Dan (Minced Pork Steamed Eggs). Whenever I make either of these dishes, I still close my eyes and try to remember how she did it. Then attempt to replicate the way she marinaded the mince, beat the eggs with chopsticks, and break up the salted egg yolks with her fingers. She still did it best.
When I miss her and Ah Kung, these are dishes I make, sometimes variations of them depending on what I have in the pantry. So recently, I was craving for this very dish and didn’t have any salted eggs in the pantry. I had to come up with something using what was available and was glad it turned out good. Popo would be pleased. I will feature her original recipe here one of these days, but for now here’s my own take of her famous Minced Pork Steamed Eggs.
Right. Enough of talk. Now to the recipe of the day.
Eggs, Dried Scallops (soaking in water), Minced Pork, Salt, Soy Sauce, Shallot Oil & Fried Shallots.
Generally, I’d start with frying some shallots to get the flavoured oil as well as have some shallots around to sprinkle in the end. Since my good mother gave me some that she fried herself already, I could forgo that step. We forge ahead with marination. Some soy, salt & oil into the mince. Notice my mince isn’t too lean. We want a bit of fat in there to keep it all moist and flavourful.
Next, We’ll be working on the eggs and scallops. Now, the reason I soak the scallops beforehand is because they are dried and really really hard. Steaming alone won’t get them to as soft as I want them to so I would soak them for about 15 minutes, reserving the soaking liquid as some saltiness would have leached out. Never waste free flavour. 😉
In order to achieve light silky texture, we need to add water in. The amount of water would determine how soft your custard will be. If I were steaming eggs on their own, I’d go for 1.5 to 1 ratio of water to egg. Seeing that I’m using mince here and the meat would release some moisture and oils too, I used a 1:1 ratio. It totally worked. My Popo never measured. She just went by the eye and it was perfect every single time.
This is when you add whatever additional ingredients you like. Shrimp, salted egg yolks, cherry tomatoes, scallions.. the possibilities are endless. I went for my softened scallops and kinda scattered them in haphazardly.
Ok, now onto the steaming. I found that steaming with the lid covering the steamer makes for tasty steamed eggs but there were always ugly bubbles on top. To achieve a smooth silky custard, I learnt that you have to make sure the water is on rapid boil, and the lid has to be partially covered. I achieve this my placing 2 chopsticks on the right and left of the mouth of the steamer. That leaves a gap, allowing the custard to cook slowly. This takes more time and you’d have to check on the water every once in a while because it would evaporate faster. But it makes for an aesthetically pleasing dish. So do whichever you prefer.
After about 30 minutes, we are greeted with this beauty. I check doneness by using a chopstick and pricking the deepest part of the bowl. If raw custard seeps out, it’s not done. But if clear liquid comes out, then it’s ready.
I always have tons of rice with this. Probably too much. As much as I love noodles, this only goes with rice in my books. Only rice.
Have a great April!
” For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (Hebrews 6:10)
Minced Pork Steamed Eggs
10 dried Scallops, soaked in equal amounts of water as egg*
6 oz (3/4 cups or 170gm) minced Pork
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Shallot Oil
1 tbsp Fried Shallots
- To begin, soak scallops for about 15 minutes while bringing the water in the steamer up to a boil.
- In the bowl that you’ll be steaming in, mix minced pork with soy sauce, shallot oil & salt.
- In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Pour in all the scallop soaking water and beat until somewhat well mixed.
- Pour egg mixture over meat and stir.
- Place bowl into steamer. For a smooth surface, use two chopsticks and place them on either end of the mouth of the steamer so that there is a small gap when the lid is placed on. Steam for about 30 minutes with the water on rapid boil, checking the water levels every 10 minutes.
- Dish is done when a chopstick is pricked into the deepest end of the bowl and no more raw custard seeps out.
- Garnish with fried shallots.
- Very good served with a big bowl of steaming hot rice.
* To get exact 1:1 ratio of water to egg, use a half egg shell and measure it out. 3 eggs : 6 half eggshells full of water