Saturday, January 28, 2023

Soy-Marinated Jammy Eggs (滷蛋)

The kind of lu dan I grew up eating was made from eggs that had been hard boiled, peeled, then dropped into a vat of red-braising meat, like Taiwanese beef noodle soup or braised pork.  I still love those kind of eggs, but nowadays I prefer my egg yolks to be jammy instead of hard and chalky.

When I discovered the recipe for Momofuku soy sauce eggs several years ago, I was delighted to be able to make the kind of eggs I was dreaming about (and without needing to make a pot of braised meat to do it!).  This version is heavily influenced by that recipe but adapted for 4 eggs, which fits perfectly in one of those pint-sized plastic deli containers.  You can save the marinade in the refrigerator and reuse it for another batch of eggs.

Serve these eggs with the aforementioned Taiwanese beef noodle soup or braised pork over rice or just about anything with noodles (ramen!) or rice (Taiwanese pork chops!).  I also like to snack on them by adding a squirt of Kewpie mayonnaise (and maybe a smattering of chopped chives if I'm feeling fancy) to imitate deconstructed deviled eggs.

Soy-Marinated Jammy Eggs (滷蛋)
makes 4 eggs

4 large eggs, straight from the refrigerator
4 tablespoons hot water
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon Joy's Five Spice

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the eggs.  Cook for exactly 7 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare an ice water bath and make the marinade.

In a pint-sized plastic deli container, dissolve the sugar in the hot water, then add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, and five spice powder.  

When the 7 minutes are up, immediately transfer the eggs to the ice bath.  Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, crack all over with the back of a spoon and return to the ice bath (the water from the ice bath helps with peeling the egg).  Carefully peel the eggs, then transfer them to the marinade.  Place a piece of paper towel on top of the eggs so that the marinade covers the top of any eggs that peek out.

Marinate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.  Remove from the marinade and keep the marinade in the fridge for the next batch.  Serve the eggs immediately or keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Since the deli container is such a snug fit for the 4 eggs, you'll probably get patches on the eggs where they don't get as much exposure to the marinade.  You can fix that by rotating the eggs in the marinade periodically, but since its doesn't really influence the taste, I don't really bother.  Sometimes they come out looking like little mouse ears though, so the only solution to that is to add some sesame seeds to complete the mouse face.

Next:  Passion Fruit Nian Gao with Red Dragon Passion Fruit Spread
Previously:  Taiwanese Braised Pork over Rice

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Taiwanese Braised Pork over Rice (滷肉飯)

I always thought the Mandarin phrase "cha bu duo" meant "as much as you need" because that's how my mom would respond whenever I asked her how much of an ingredient to add to a dish.  For instance, when I asked her how to make lu rou fan (Taiwanese braised pork over rice), she told me to add fried shallots, cooking wine, and soy sauce to the browned pork.  I asked her how much of each, and she just said "cha bu duo" in an exasperated voice. 

But when I asked her what that phrase meant, she explained it means "more or less". Google translates it to "almost, nearly, similar". None of that is helpful though without any actual measurements, haha.

After several rounds of experimenting and the added guidance of TACL-LYF's Taiwanese Homestyle Cooking cookbook, I've come up with my preferred way to make this homey dish.  Some recipes call for using exclusively pork belly, but the version I grew up eating was made with only ground pork.  Using half ground pork and half pork belly is a nice compromise, but you can also just use only fatty ground pork.

One ingredient I've started using that's kind of like a cheat code is Lee Kum Kee's pork bone soup base.  It comes super concentrated so I like to freeze it in small portions and just dissolve the amount I need for a particular recipe.  Not only does it add a lot of flavor, it's full of collagen that will add a nice sticky mouthfeel to the braised pork.  If you don't have any pork bone soup, you can just use water, and I've read that some people add unflavored gelatin to give it that same mouthfeel.

If you want, you can add some peeled, boiled eggs to the pot while it's cooking to make lu dan (soy braised eggs), but I prefer my egg yolks jammy so I usually just marinate them separately.  I also like to serve this with some stir-fried greens like napa cabbage or bok choy, although sometimes if I'm really lazy, I'll just add the greens directly to the pot while it's cooking.

Taiwanese Braised Pork over Rice (滷肉飯)
makes 4 servings

1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. pork belly, chopped
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon oil
5 tablespoons fried shallots
1 tablespoon rice wine
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 cup pork bone soup or water (see note above)
1/2 tablespoon rock sugar
1/2 teaspoon Joy's Five Spice
1 star anise
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
4 cups steamed rice

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in hot water for at least 15 minutes, then finely chop.

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the mushrooms and fried shallots.  Cook for a minute or two until fragrant, then add the ground pork and chopped pork belly.  Continue to cook until the pork is cooked through and a little browned.  

Add the rice wine to deglaze and then add the soy sauce, pork broth (or water), rock sugar, five spice powder, star anise, and white pepper.  Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to a simmer.  Let simmer for an hour, then serve over rice along with greens, pickled daikon, and a soy marinated egg if you like.

Next:  Soy-Marinated Jammy Eggs
Previously:  Sourdough Discard Okinomiyaki Waffles