One of the smartest things I've ever done in this job is find June Tong. As a consultant in no-nonsense Chinese cooking, the author of "Popo's Kitchen" is unstoppable. Unfortunately, her cookbook is long out of print and she does not intend to reissue it, but she is more than willing to share.
Her cookbook yielded answers to three recent requests: Caroline Lopes wants to make Beef with Sin Choy ("one of my favorite dishes"), Edward F.C. Lau wants to make taro cake using the taro he grows in his Kaneohe yard and an email correspondent, who reads our online edition from the mainland (his name unfortunately disappeared when my email files imploded last week), yearns to make Kau Yuk like the type he enjoys at Chinese restaurants when he visits Hawaii.
These recipes are modified from what was printed in the 10-year-old cookbook, as Tong has continued to experiment and improve on her originals.
Shopping notes: Sin choy, or pickled mustard cabbage, is available in most Asian markets. Larm see and bean curd in cubes are available in Chinatown groceries and the Asian sections of many supermarkets.
To simplify the Kau Yuk recipe, Tong suggests buying roasted pork belly in Chinatown. Then you simply mix up the sauce, pour it over the sliced pork (rinse the excess salt off first), and steam.
(Three of Tong's other recipes, for Bar-B-Que P-Nut Chicken, Gon Lo Mein and Dao Lau, were published here Oct. 6).
Kau Yuk3 pounds belly porkCut pork in 3-inch strips, parboil, rinse and pat dry. Puncture skin with a sharp knife. Heat oil over medium heat and brown pork until skin is very crisp. Dunk in cold water, drain and pat dry. Cut in 5/8-inch slices.
3 tablespoons oil
1 pound dryland taro, sliced, or potato
2 cubes red bean curd
2 cubes yellow bean curd
2 tablespoons sugar, more if needed
2 whole star anise, mashed
2 tablespoons each hoi sin and oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
2 cloves garlic, minced
Combine sauce ingredients. If sauce is too strong, add water or chicken stock. Marinate pork 30 minutes.
Arrange pork in a large bowl, alternating with taro slices. Pour sauce over all and steam 3 hours. Serves 12.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 670 calories, 64 g total fat, 22 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium.*
Taro Cake10 pieces larm see (salted, dried olives), washed, soaked 10 minutes and halvedCombine taro mixture and bring to boil. Simmer until cooked.
3 cups chopped Chinese taro
1 teaspoon Knorr's chicken base
1 teaspoon Hawaiian salt, or to taste
Water to cover
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup dried baby shrimp, washed and soaked
1/2 cup each chopped ham, roast pork and char siu
1/4 cup each chopped green onions and chinese parsley
1/2 cups wheat starch
1/4 cup flour
To make filling: Heat oil and stir-fry ingredients lightly.
Combine taro and filling mixtures well. Combine wheat starch and flour; add to taro. Mixture should be the texture of pancake batter; add more water if necessary.
Place in 9-inch pie pan, top with larm see. Steam 30 minutes. Cut into diamond shapes. Makes 15-20 pieces.
Approximate nutritional information, per piece: 80 calories, 4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 310 mg sodium.*
Beef with Sin Choy1/2 pound flank steak, slicedCombine marinade ingredients and pour over beef. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and stir-fry beef until medium rare. Remove and set aside.
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon each oyster sauce and sherry
2 thin slices ginger, slivered
1/2 teaspoon garlic chile sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup each sliced onion, celery and bell pepper
2 cups sin choy (pickled mustard cabbage)
1/8 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 inch ginger, mashed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 cube beef bouillon
Reheat pan with remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Saute vegetables until tender-crisp. Add sauce ingredients to pan; stir well. Combine thickening ingredients and add to pan, stir until sauce thickens. Return beef to pan and stir well. Serves 3.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 480 calories, 30 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 1,250 mg sodium.*
Send queries along with name and phone number to:
By Request, Honolulu Star-Bulletin Food Section,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.