FOOD – Chinese Home Cooking

That’s the title of Sam Leong’s new cookbook (Marshall Cavendish Cuisine). But don’t kid yourself. The multiple award-winning chef’s idea of homecooking is nothing like what you’d get in most households. But that’s just what we’d expect of him.

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First, there’s an upmarket restaurant feel to many dishes – Double-boiled Stuffed Chicken & Ginseng Soup, Pan-seared Beef Rolls with Black Pepper Sauce (attractively packed with enoki mushrooms); and an extravagance that makes some dishes more suitable only for festive occasions or celebrations eg Mustard Greens Stir-fried with Dried Scallops uses 12 dried scallops while Radish Cake is not so humble when it comes with Seafood and XO Sauce.

As always Sam Leong is innovative, so if you want to surprise the family with some fusion, try his Double-boiled Coconut Soup with Baby Abalone or Crispy Cod Fillet with Mango Salsa finishing off with Warm Pumpkin Crème Brulee.

To satisfy the ones looking for food they might have grown up with, he’s included his grandmother’s best dishes – Steamed Chicken with Fermented Bean Curd and Steamed Mince Pork Petites with Salted Egg Yolk. There are also simple dishes like Stir-fried Prawns, Steamed Fish, and Seafood Fried Rice but always with a flourish.

I am going to try the Steamed Tiger Prawns with Minced Garlic served with glass vermicelli – looks delicately delicious. The pork ribs look enticing too – whether with sweet and sour orange sauce or five-spice powder (recipe follows). Don’t skip this if you don’t have all the ingredients listed. Even without eg the mirin, sake and torch ginger, this will taste terrific and you can get away with one type of chilli.

Crispy Pork Ribs Coated with Five-Spice Powder

Serves 4

Pork ribs 400g (14½ oz), cut into bite-size pieces

Water 1.5 litres (48 fl oz/6 cups)

Ginger 3 slices

Spring onion (scallion) ½

Dried chillies 5

Red chillies 2

Star anise 1

Bay leaf 1

Oyster sauce 2 teaspoons

Dark soy sauce 1/8 teaspoon

Chinese cooking wine (hua tiao) 3 teaspoons

Sugar 1 teaspoon

Cooking oil for deep-frying

Corn flour (cornstarch) 200g (7 oz)

Five-spice seasoning (combined)

Chicken stock, 100ml (3½ fl oz)

Salt ½ teaspoon

Honey ½ teaspoon

Sweet mirin ½ teaspoon

Sake ½ teaspoon

Lemon juice 1 teaspoon

Minced garlic 1 teaspoon

Minced ginger 1 teaspoon

Minced torch ginger bud 1 teaspoon

Five-spice powder ½ teaspoon, mixed with 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (hua tiao)

  1. Bring a pot of water to the boil and poach pork ribs to remove any surface scum. Drain.
  2. Put pork ribs in a pot and add water and all remaining ingredients, except cooking oil and corn flour. Simmer over low heat for 1½ hours or until pork ribs are tender. Remove ribs and discard contents of pot.
  3. Heat cooking oil for deep-frying. Coat ribs with corn flour and deep-fry until brown and crisp. Remove and drain well.
  4. Heat ½ tablespoon oil in a wok. Add pork ribs and five-spice seasoning and toss well. Dis out and serve.
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