[Insert Egg Pun Here]

Easter. A time for me to reflect on my love of eggs. For your reference, here is a list of my Top 6 types of eggs:

  1. Steamed eggs with pork
  2. Scrambled eggs
  3. Scotch eggs
  4. Fried eggs
  5. Boiled eggs (so versatile)
  6. Century eggs (in the context of salted pork and century egg congee)

I’m not sure whether it’s because my mum ate A LOT of eggs when she was pregnant with me, or whether because they are super versatile, but I bloody love an egg. One of the 3 reasons I could not become vegan full-time (reason 1 = meats, reason 2 = cheese). As long as you don’t overcook them, you can use them as a source of cheap and easy to prepare protein. I love how they bring together a load of disjointed things on a plate or in a bowl – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to have a ‘fridge clear-out’ dinner before going away, and bringing it all together with… a fried egg on top, and perhaps some hot sauce of sorts.

Eggs feature a lot in my childhood food memories. I remember my first trip to Hong Kong (I was pretty young, maybe 6?) I developed a slight obsession with the fried egg sandwiches there. Bread in HK is extremely white and almost fluffy – with no crusts. Perfectly squared-off loaves are available in every supermarket and bakery. It is the perfect base for a hot fried egg sandwich; part sponge, part egg-blanket. This was also the occasion I discovered fried egg and corned beef sandwiches, but I’ll save that for another day.

Scrambled eggs were the first thing that I ever cooked on a hob (i.e. ‘proper cooking’). I think I had to do it for a Brownies badge so it forced my parents into letting me near an open flame. A 9-year old me did a little air punch. I remember having to cook this at my friend’s house (no idea why, maybe we thought we were being helpful by making a huge mess in the kitchen) and beating the eggs very thoroughly and procrastinating a lot over how much salt to add. Also, black pepper – I was incredibly confused by black pepper as we didn’t use it at all at home. We also pan fried some slices of ham (we hadn’t graduated to raw meats yet) and I was delighted by the result. I think I may have force-fed my mum and dad scrambled eggs every weekend from then on.

Steamed egg and minced pork is possibly one of my favourist things from my parents’ food repertoire. They used to make it in a large dish for dinner and I would always stall my eating to make sure that I got the last dredges of it. It was so delicious, I don’t think I ever chewed a mouthful properly. When it is in the steamer, the egg puffs up and becomes almost souffle-like. But then as soon as it is lifted out, the egg immediately deflates, not that it looks any less appetising though. My parents would always mince their own pork (usually belly – when it was cheap!) using a cleaver – this became my job when I was trusted enough with a knife that was the same size as my face. For my parents, the meal was nutritious and easy to make – something that influenced a lot of our meals as we always ate about an hour before the takeaway opened.

Today, I eat steamed egg a lot less, mainly because there are so many other things to eat. It’s something I go to when I need something that isn’t too heavy but is filling and warm. And no, I can’t make it like how my parents make it. I’m not sure what I do differently but it never tastes the same.

Ingredients:

  • Some pork (er, maybe up to 100g ish?) – I use shoulder but you can use belly and even loin if you want but some fat in it would make it more tasty. You can also totally skip the mincing part and buy pre-minced pork.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Sesame oil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • Soy Sauce

(Serves 2 as part of a meal with other dishes, or 1 if serving standalone)

  1. Mince your pork using a cleaver/mincer. Or use pre-minced pork (I prefer the texture when I mince it myself). Place the meat in a shallow dish (this will make cooking quicker) – n.b. make sure it’s big enough!
  2. Crack 2 eggs into the dish, add salt and a few dashes of sesame oil (optional) – beat with chopsticks.
  3. Add the 1/4 cup of water (pre-boiled) and beat again.
  4. Put a steaming rack into a large saucepan or wok – let it come up to the boil. Place the dish into the pan/wok and turn the heat right down to a gentle simmer – I would recommend using the smallest burner as you want it to steam on a low-med heat. Cook for about 15 mins (you can check whether it’s cooked by poking the centre with a chopstick to see if the egg has set/meat has cooked through).
  5. Drizzle soy sauce on the top and serve with boiled rice!

 

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Ta-da! Steamed egg with pork! I’ve put spring onions on top for fanciness but they really don’t add anything to the dish.

 

I eat my steamed egg with plain boiled rice – I kinda stir it all together and wolf it down because very little chewing is needed!

*DISCLAIMER* Now, I know that the top of this steamed egg is all bumpy and not at all refined. First of all, I didn’t grow up with the refined version because my parents didn’t have time. Secondly, because this contains meat, you need enough heat to cook it through within a reasonable amount of time. Vegetarians/steamed egg lovers – you can make this sans meat, steamed on a super low heat (like, the lowest setting on your smallest burner), and you *may* be able to achieve a smooth top and almost custard-like texture (this really depends on how low your hob can go!).

Give it a go and see what happens!

Happy cooking!

xxx

 

Dedicated to my egg-cellent friend Sophie.

Bring Me Congee

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My pimped congee with salted pork topped with preserved vegetables and chilli oil

Congee, or ‘粥’, conjures up memories of… being sick as a child. Fevers, colds, stomach bugs, and everything in between. For me, it is food that I still turn to when I’m sick, run down, or just need a hug in a bowl. A basic-bitch congee is made from rice and water which is easy for your body to digest, especially if you’re unwell. A bit like tea and toast, but way better.

It’s also super cheap to make – as a poorish undergrad student (I really had no excuse, I had a part-time job) I once reported to my mum that I’d made some congee because I was a bit skint. She asked me what I’d eaten with it (gods forbid I ate it plain) to which I responded ‘a pork chop’ – sliced and cooked in with the congee. Obviously not *that* poor that I couldn’t afford to buy myself some meat. LOL.

粥 is a staple in many Hong Kong markets, often eaten for breakfast with salted pork and century egg (my personal favourite) with a side of delicious 油炸鬼 (fried dough sticks – literally translated to ‘fried oil ghosts’) or fried egg noodles. I love a bowl of congee whenever I go back to Hong Kong – even in the 30+ degree heat. The ingredients and flavours are so simple which is probably what makes it so comforting.

It was a bit odd when I came to write down the ‘recipe’ as it occurred to me I’d never weighed or measured any of the ingredients – like boiling rice, it’s all about eyeballing. However, I measured my ‘eyeballed’ amounts and it went something like this:

1/2 cup rice (I use Thai Fragrant rice because I’m a snob)
5 cups of water or stock
Pork (1 chop/steak’s worth!) – optional, depending on how skint you’re feeling…

Makes 2 portions. Cooking time: around 20 minutes.

Method:

  1. Wash your rice and soak overnight – you can skip this part, especially if you’re impulse cooking, but I find that this makes the consistency smoother when it comes to cooking the rice.
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Soaked grains of rice

 

2. Drain the water and put your soaked/unsoaked rice in a saucepan. Add 5 cups of water and bring it to the boil. MAKE SURE THE LID IS RESTED ON THE SIDE OF THE PAN OR IT WILL BOIL OVER. Once it comes up to the boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes (again with the lid rested on the side of the pan to prevent boiling over). You can use stock if you’re feeling fancy but I’m not a huge fan of drinking synthetic stock. Stir occasionally.

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Rice simmering away gently.

 

3. Slice your pork thinly (you can use pretty much any cut – my favourite is shoulder) and add to the congee – cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can also salt your pork the night before by sprinkling about a tablespoon of salt onto the chop and rinse off before using. This helps create a lovely stock while it cooks.

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I actually only used half of this as I had a really thick steaks

 

4. Your congee should end up looking a bit like the picture below. If it’s too thick for your liking, add some more water but make sure you bring it back up to the boil once more before serving to ensure it’s piping hot throughout. Add salt to taste.

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5. ‘Garnish’ and eat! I added some preserved vegetables and chilli oil to mine, with a dash of soy sauce.

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You can also top it with fried mince pork and cabbage (flavoured with ginger and sesame oil).

 

Storage: you can keep congee overnight in the fridge – just make sure that it’s properly cooled before you pop it in. To re-heat, pop it in a saucepan with some additional water (it will thicken up overnight) and bring it to a boil slowly. Or, and don’t tell my mum I do this, you can microwave it – make sure that it is piping hot before eating.

There are so many variations of what you can cook in or serve with the congee – a delight when you are not sick! Pork or chicken is always a winner as they help create the stock while cooking. I always add soy sauce, and sometimes I plop in some preserved bean curd for some savoury umaaminess. For vegetarians or vegans the addition of some preserved veg or spicy preserved hot turnips, and a side of stir fried green leafy veg is very appetising and nourishing.

Ok, now off you go and make yourself some congee. It’s not just for sick people!

Happy cooking!

xxx