高丽菜饭 Kor Leh Chye Png – Chinese Cabbage Rice
Yet another quick post! I just came back from a hearty discussion with two friends at Starbucks over homemade kueh sarlat and their matcha frappucino on heritage cuisine and some exciting projects that will be happening soon on this blog. All that talk of food made me very very hungry naturally. Just wanna eat some comfort food, something which would bring me back to the days of my childhood, something easy and fast yet full of flavour. There is only one dish I can think of, my mum’s 高丽菜饭 Kor Leh Chye Png Chinese Cabbage Rice.
We were discussing childhood dishes, what kind of food resonates within one the most is what one has eaten in one’s early years. It doesn’t have to be elaborated or sophisticated, it doesn’t have to be overtly technical or use extravagant or exotic ingredients. It’s one’s reminder of home, where we came from, what we grew up with and what make us who we are now.
The ingredients are fairly simple, I already have the dried stuff (shrimp, mushroom and lup cheong) in my pantry at home, so all that is required to make a quick detour to the local supermarket for some ingredients like Beijing cabbage, pork belly and prawns. We like a combination of ingredients in our kor leh chye png. Yet the ingredient list is never static. Sometimes fresh pork belly is used, sometimes a leaner loin. Sometimes we would use roasted pork belly, when mum decided to be a bit more indulging. Boy I miss her cooking…
There is a mixture of both meats and seafood in our kor leh chye png. A quick lesson by Chef Shen Tan aka “Madam Tan” last weekend at the Knorrthentic-SHC Cookout on nucleotides from meats and glutamates from seafood to create a more complete flavour profile explained this tradition perfectly. Our mothers and grandmothers knew it all along, just that they could not explain the intricacies behind those procedures, that’s all. While dried shrimp is a must, fresh prawns is entirely optional. We like lup cheong in our koh leh chye png as well. The rendered fat from these preserved pork and liver sausages elevate the flavours of the other ingredients making the whole dish more dimensional. As such, our family’s version doesn’t prescribe or stay tenacious to one particular dialect group, be it Teochew or Hokkien. Perhaps that is reflective of how my extended family is like, a mish mash of different communities through marriages, so we grew up listening to many different tongues as we grew up, and naturally we picked up these languages along the way…
Oh yes, I love to cook rice in a French oven like Le Creuset. Ever since I started doing this a couple of years back, I’d ditched my rice cooker and never turned back since. I love how the rice are individually grained yet remaining fluffy and soft. Moreover, everything can be done in one pot which saves me the hassle of washing one more wok!
高丽菜饭 Kor Leh Chye Png – Chinese Cabbage Rice Recipe (serves 3-4)
1 1/2 cup of rice, rinsed
200g Beijing cabbage, cut into large chunks
100g pork belly, cut into 0.5cm thick slices
1 lup cheong (chinese wine sausage), membrane removed and sliced thinly diagonally
5 Chinese mushrooms, soaked in warm water and sliced thinly (retain soaking liquids)
2 tbsp dried shrimp
6-8 large prawns, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp chicken powder
Pinch of salt, adjust to taste
Dash of pepper, adjust to taste
2 generous tbsp fried shallots
A sprig of coriander leaves (optional)
1 3/4 cups of mushroom and dried shrimp soaking liquids, for cooking rice so top up with more water if necessary.
To a heated French oven or casserole add cooking oil and add sliced pork belly.
Sautee until they turn slightly brown to render some fat.
Add sliced lup cheong and stir fry until fragrant.
Add garlic, followed by dried shrimp and stir fry until fragrant.
Add sliced Chinese mushroom, followed by cabbage chunks and stir fry until the leaves are slightly wilted.
Add rinsed rice and stir fry until the rice evenly coats all the ingredients.
Add mushroom and dried shrimp soaking liquids and mix around evenly.
Season with chicken powder, salt and some pepper.
Cover and bring to a boil before lowering flame to a bare simmer.
Cook covered for 10-15 min, depending on surface area of the pot base and flame control.
Use a pair of wooden chopsticks, fluff up the rice. Adjust flavours if necessary.
Lay the prawns over the surface of the rice, cover and continue to cook for another 5-8 min under very low heat.
Turn off the flame and allow the cooked rice to sit for 15-20 min.
Open lid, toss in fried shallots.
Ladle into bowls and serve immediately after adding more topping of fried shallots and coriander leaves.