Back in the day, the older generation seldom shared their recipes. They didn’t even bother to compile them because they knew by heart how to cook all the dishes.
I enjoyed my late dad’s cooking so much, but only managed to compile five of his recipes. The rest are lost to our family and I can only savour them in my dreams!
One of my favourite recipes which I managed to write down is the traditional Hakka Char Nguik, or deep-fried pork belly that uses fermented red beancurd and Chinese five-spice powder to give the meat its unique flavour. My father’s version is a little different as he adds garlic and shallots to the marinade, which gives the meat a deeper flavour.
In the past, some families would cook char nguik in bulk then pack and seal it in tins to be sent to relatives in China as gifts.
This dish has become so popular that these days some people cook large amounts at a go, to eat it as a snack. — Contributed by TIMOTHY FOONG
Hakka Char Nguik
3kg skinless pork belly (cut into cubes between 3cm and 4cm).
One bottle of fermented red beancurd (250g)
1 tsp five spice powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 bulb of garlic
1 tbsp ground black or white pepper
Salt to taste
3 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp flour
3 to 4 eggs (optional)
1. Blend all the ingredients together, except for the pork. This will form the paste for the marinade.
2. Mix the pork belly in the marinade thoroughly and set aside in the fridge for at least 2 hours, if not overnight.
3. Mix the flour and eggs separately in a bowl, and then coat the pork with this. You can add the flour/corn flour ratio if you find the pork too wet for frying.
4. Heat the oil until hot. Test one piece to ensure the oil is sufficiently hot.
5. Once the oil is ready, fry the meat on medium heat until golden brown. Place the crispy meat on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Store in an air-tight container if you are not eating immediately.