It must be the moon, or something in the alignment of the stars, but the world seems to be craving pork chops, done in the Chinese, salt-and-pepper style.
From shrimp to pork chops
with Chinese-style flavor
OK, not the whole world, but three people sent in independent requests, and the way I look at it, with all the foods there are to cook, a matching three-way request equals a trend.
Derek Yamashiro, Phyllis Okumura and A. Nagao all have a hankering for this Hong Kong-style traditional dish, Okumura especially nostalgic for the version she used to get at Riverside Inn and Nagao partial to On On Chinese Restaurant's. Nagao is also looking for the On On salt-pepper shrimp recipe.
Today we kill all those birds with a single stone, thanks to Wilson Wu and Elbert Lum, owners of On On Kapahulu.
They took over the restaurant a little over a year ago, also opening On On Deli on Liliha Street. The McCully Street On On is under different ownership, but the style of cooking is the same.
Wu, the chef, says the pork chops and shrimp are made exactly the same way. He cooks, by the way, by eyeball, with no written measurements, so this recipe is based on his approximations and my observation of the technique.
It's a simple recipe, though, so taste and make adjustments. After a few tries you should have it right.
Wu also includes his recipe for one of his most popular dishes, Walnuts with Shrimp, which includes crunchy-sweet deep-fried nuts. This also is a standard, but if you've never encountered it before, here's the deal: The shrimp are fried, then doused in a mixture of mayonnaise and sweetened condensed milk. It's off-putting by description, but just try it. The taste is quite amazing.
The tricky part of this dish is in the making of the walnuts. They have to be boiled first to guarantee crunchiness. Wu says it took a lot of experimentation to figure out just how long to boil the nuts; he finally settled on 30 minutes.
Then you sweeten the nuts with honey and sugar and fry them. This also is tricky because sugar burns so easily. Watch the heat and watch the nuts.
Fill wok with enough oil to cover meat and heat to 350 degrees over medium heat.
Salt-Pepper Shrimp or Pork Chops12 medium shrimp, unpeeled, head-on or 10 thin-sliced pork chops (about 1 pound total), cut in thirds with bone left on
Vegetable oil for frying
1 teaspoon flour
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 large red chili peppers, sliced (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon cooking wine
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
Toss shrimp or pork with flour. Drop into hot oil and toss a couple of times. Quickly add garlic, peppers and salt, then wine, stirring the entire time. Add green onions, toss once, then strain oil. Serve with garlic, peppers and onions from the wok. Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (shrimp): 270 calories, 15 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 220 mg cholesterol, 530 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 25 g protein.*
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (pork): 360 calories, 21 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 34 g protein.*
To prepare nuts: Boil nuts in water 30 minutes; drain and shake out well. Combine honey and sugar; pour over nuts and toss to coat.
Walnuts with ShrimpVegetable oil for frying
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled
1 egg white
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
A few drops of lemon juice
1 cup walnut pieces
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon sugar
Vegetable oil for frying
Heat oil to 350 degrees over medium heat. Drop in nuts and fry until dark brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat as nuts cook. Monitor carefully, as the sugar burns easily. Depending on the size of your wok or pot, you may want to work in small batches. Remove from heat, drain and cool spread out on a cookie sheet so nuts don't stick together. May be made ahead and stored in an airtight container until needed.
To prepare shrimp: Pour enough oil into a wok to cover shrimp. Heat to 350 degrees over medium heat. Season shrimp with salt, then dip in egg white and dust with cornstarch. Drop into hot oil and fry over medium heat until pink.
Combine mayonnaise, condensed milk and lemon juice. Pour mixture over shrimp and toss. Serve shrimp sprinkled with nuts. Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 420 calories, 32 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 120 mg cholesterol, 190 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 18 g protein.*
Food Stuffs: Morsels
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"By Request," Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
500 Ala Moana, No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813.
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Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.