If you’re going to eat pork, eat it till your mouth drips. ~ Yiddish proverb
~ TAIWAN STREET FOOD SERIES – Part 2 ~
The last time we married east and west over a bucket of Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken amidst the drama of English aristocracy. Today we continue bringing the tastes of Taiwan street food into our homes in California.
You know how there’s always someone, usually Asian, bent over a large bowl of appetizingly-looking ground meat over steaming white rice whenever you walk into a bubble tea store such as Quickly or Cafe Verde? If you live in the California Bay Area, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Well, ground meat (or minced meat, depending on which side of the pond you hail from) comes to its own in Taiwanese street food, taking its place amongst stalwarts such as Aunt Betsy’s meatloaf, Cousin Emma’s cottage pie or Uncle Chen’s shrimp and pork wontons. And ground pork in a stew-like sauce served over rice is an iconic staple in any Taiwan street food market.
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I like my meat as well as the next meat-eating person, “in moderation of course”, I assure my doctor. But sometimes chicken is just too bland and beef too substantial. Pork is my perfect compromise.
The resident taste-testers and I had gone on a brisk hike earlier that afternoon. What would have been an unpleasant jaunt, mostly because I would have been grumpy from the sweltering heat, was made bearable by a consistent wind as we scaled the peak, and in the end, we got a good workout from it. We also worked up a good appetite. No wimpy dinner for us that day. We needed something with heft, something that felt substantial yet healthy. After all, we wanted to keep those lost calories away, didn’t we? Tossed in a bunch of spinach and voila! Comfort-food-in-a-bowl is served! Best of all? Settling in front of the TV, bowls in hands to be surprised (again) by the latest episode of The Wire.
- 1 pound ground pork
- 8-10 dried mushrooms, soaked, sliced thinly, liquid reserved
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 cups spinach, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green chillis, chopped
- 1 medium onion, sliced into wedges
- 4 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine
- ½ tsp five-spice powder
- 4-5 star anise
- 2 pinch of cloves
- 2-3 cups water
- 4 eggs
- 2 green onions, chopped (for garnish)
- Fried shallots (for garnish)
- Prepare 4 hard boiled eggs.
- Mix light and dark soy sauces, cooking wine and five-spice powder in a bowl.
- Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a pan. When oil is hot, add pork, breaking it up with the spatula so it doesn't form clumps and fry till it is no longer pink.
- Add garlic, chilli and onion.
- When onion is soft, add mushrooms and carrots. Stir-fry till mushrooms are slightly translucent and no longer opaque.
- Add spinach and cook till softened.
- Add liquid sauces, star anise and cloves and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add enough water to cover ingredients. Cover and simmer till most of the liquid has been reduced but not dry. You want the pork to be slightly moist.
- Peel eggs and place them into on top of the simmering ingredients. Turn them a few times during the simmer.
- Serve over steaming rice and garnish with green onions and fried shallots.
Any soft, leafy vegetables with a mild taste can be used instead of spinach. Eg. choy sim, bak choy, watercress.
Fried shallots can be bought from the store or prepared at home. (Recipe on its way)
Also try these other easy ideas:
- Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken – Taiwan Street Food Series Part 1
- Easy Claypot Chicken Rice
- Hamburger Stew
- Babi Pongtay (Stewed Pork with Fermented Soy Beans)