This was the only “cha siu” made at home. Though not a char siew, but it’s the closest. My grandaunt is particular about names of dishes and will never teach us to call this char siew. It’s Pan Fried Pork, Pan Fried Pork, Pan Fried Pork according to her. She’s a very strict cook… just by observing her when I was a kid, I have learnt a lot. And I try to recreate her dishes from memory, all thanks to the opportunity to watch her in the kitchen
She babysat me and will always bring me into the kitchen when she prepares meals so that she can keep an eye on me. I was only 4 when she allowed me to play with the butter knife and a cucumber’s end. How to cut the hard part of a cucumber with butter knife? Made me so frustrated. I want a real knife! LOL.
It’s not nice to work in the kitchen with her if you are very cincai (loose on rules, easy going). She’ll lecture you non stop. From the way to slice onions, slice carrots, trim kangkung, break long beans…. Urrgh! She has a set of rigid rules to follow. And the worse is how she does her fern shoots. Get away from the kitchen. LOL. She will be glad you did.
Now.. I’m still thinking of her famed 6 inch Zeen Doy. Lost!
Grandaunt makes a few pieces without the 5 spice powder as my dad hates it, and the others are spiced. I have always preferred the spiced version.
I tried to recreate this dish a few times, and it’s not easy get it like how she does. I know what she puts in, but it’s the amount that matters. I had to get that taste.. that particular taste.
Try to imagine my joy when it was just like I had it when I was a kid.
Grandaunt’s Pan Fried Pork 煎猪肉
300gm pork loin
300gm pork belly (ask butcher to remove skin and slice to 1.5cm thick)
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
¼ tsp dark caramel sauce
1.5 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Generous dash of pepper
½ tsp Chinese 5 Spice Powder (Get a good one from the herbal shop)
½ tsp salt
1. Slice pork loin into 6 slices (about 7mm each) and divide pork belly into 4 inch long big pieces. Tenderize pork loin either with a meat mallet or with the back of a cleaver.
2. Mix sugar, cornstarch, pepper, 5 spice and salt together.
3. Marinate pork with soy sauce and caramel sauce. Then sprinkle the dry ingredients in gradually while rubbing the meat. Gradually sprinkle and rub until it is finished.
4. Let it marinate for 1 hour.
5. Heat a pan/wok and put in some oil. Pan fry belly pieces first on medium low heat until caramelized (might take up to 3-4 minutes each side) Dish out and retain the oil.
6. After the belly, pan fry the pork loin on medium heat until both sides look caramelized (loin pieces shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes on each side, cook too long and it’ll get tough. 1 minute on each side should be nice)
7. Let meat pieces cool down totally. Slice and serve.