Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nyonya Babi Pongteh (Braised Pork in Fermented Bean Sauce)

I recently started re-watching "The Little Nyonya" (a Singaporean TV series) to let off some steam while composing a microtonal piece. (You think counting to from 0 to 12 is hard? Try counting 0a - 12b, then perform 'operations' on it.) I've watched (in the loosest form of the word) that TV series before, but don't remember much of it. Often, the TV is on when I do my work, because that is just the way things work when you have one TV in a flat with eight people. 

Anyway, I finished the piece last night! I feel that it is a good piece, one to be proud of (those are few and far between), and am looking forward to the premiere in March! As a celebration for finishing the piece, I decided to cook babi pongteh, which is a Nyonya recipe. I heard so much about Nyonya foods on "The Little Nyonya", and I can't wait to try all these recipes. My maternal grandmother is part Nyonya, and makes fantastic sambal udang, so it Nyonya cuisine isn't that far from my taste buds.

Babi pongteh was incredibly easy to make, and also really delicious. I had no idea that fermented soy beans  married so well with sweet black soy sauce. The shiitake mushrooms also added their own fragrance to the mix and I was very impressed. It surely tastes as good as it sounded on TV! Jas was skeptical when I told him that there were fermented beans and mushrooms (his #1 enemy on the food lists) in the recipe, but was very quick to love the dish when he tasted it. Babi pongteh win!

Ingredients (2 servings)
  • 1/2 lb pork sirloin chops, cut into 1/2" strips
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tao cheo (fermented soy bean sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 6-8 small shiitake mushrooms

  • Soak shiitake mushrooms in about 1/2 cup water for about 30 minutes. Keep the water used for soaking mushrooms.
  • Mince the garlic and shallot very very finely. If you have a motar, pound it until it roughly resembles a paste. If not, just mince the garlic and shallots as finely as you can.

  • In a heated pan, add oil and fry the minced garlic and shallots until browned.
  • When the garlic and shallots are browned, add  the soaked mushrooms (without water) and sliced pork. 
  • Fry until pork pieces are cooked, then add potatoes, dark soy sauce, tao cheo and water from soaking the mushrooms.

  • Bring the liquids to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Serve.

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