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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pork Noodle 猪肉粉

Cravings alert! Yea, that's how bad it was! My craving for this pork noodle has always been there left unattended, well technically ever since I moved here. But each time it hit, I would usually manage to brush it off, distracting myself making do with plenty other options - settling especially on those that are not as much of a hassle in their making and of course a lot less time consuming too.

But having seen Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover)'s post on her 新山粿條湯 Pork Kuey Teow Soup (Johor style), that craving couldn't be crushed any longer! So Sonia, thanks for the real good push! With streams of photos so attractive in her post, it's just hard to convince myself (and especially my tummy) that we can and should still wait until our next trip back to Malaysia for a bowl of this swine-centered goodness.

Pork noodle is especially my dad and my brother's all-time favorite. They just love everything with pork! Mom - she's the total opposite of them. She despises almost everything with pork! Me - I got a bit of both. My affinity for them does comes with a limitation though; anything beyond lean is a strict NO, and liver is the only innard that I tolerate pretty well.

Me and the liver - that story started when I was first told that I needed a boost in my iron consumption. So I started taking pork livers and cockles! Took me a couple of trials (and rejections), but eventually I have decided that the liver's not bad and cockles are amazing! So, some kinda acquired taste in both cases? Maybe...

A bowl of pork noodle usually comes with all the essential pork-based ingredients - there's the thinly sliced pork loins, minced pork and pork meat balls. A step up the adventure ladder and you get the liver slivers, intestines and kidneys. Of course, all these come tailored to your order; you can opt for some and exclude the rest. Served with some greens on the side [most of the time the Chinese mustard green (choy sum)], each bowl comes finished with some crispy fried garlic (essentially with their oil) and the crispy pork lards. So artery clogging! But still I can't help having a weak spot for them!

Having an extra egg is optional; but I certainly wouldn't object to having that beautifully poached egg topping a bowl of this pork noodle. And when you finally do breach the protective layer and get the runny yolk blended into the broth... gosh! A classic case of taste buds overloading!

Ultimately the broth that bathes all the ingredients in the bowl of pork noodle is what makes a stall selling this different from another selling exactly the same. Made with what must have been loads of pork bones simmered over a substantial amount of time, the resulting broth is one so flavorful it's just hard to miss the natural sweetness infused in it. And that is how the real good ones defined.

This homemade version incorporates the ribs and some vegetables that are sweet in nature in its broth making. It does come with a light difference compared to those 100% porcine-based broth, probably with an extra light hint of vegetables while missing the slight cloudiness and murkiness coming naturally from the heaps of pork bones. But this version inspired by Sonia is great nonetheless! Sweet (nothing artificial, of course) and flavorsome! And the good news? It has got my immense cravings for this pork noodle totally checked!

A mental note to myself - my next try would be a broth made with plenty of just the pork bones and nothing else and I'll see how that turns out... *evil grin*.

And now... let's get to the making!

Pork Noodle 猪肉粉 
Adapted from Nasi Lemak Lover
Serves 2-3

(A) Broth 
2.2lbs pork ribs, cleaned and excess far trimmed off, cut into smaller pieces
1.5lbs jicama, peeled and quartered
1/4 cabbage, leave as whole
1 large sweet onion, peeled and quartered
12 red dates, rinsed, soaked and pitted
4L water
salt to taste

This should make enough broth for more than just 3 servings. I have the rest portioned out and frozen for future consumption.

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Blanch the ribs to remove the scum. Drain and set aside.
2. Bring 4L of water to boil in a stock pot. Transfer the ribs into the stock pot.
3. Bring the jicama, cabbage, sweet onion and red dates into the pot and bring to boil. Let boil for about 15 minutes before turning the heat down to low. Cover and let simmer for at least another 4 hours.
4. Add salt to taste about 10 to 15 minutes prior to serving.

(B) Pork loin and marinade
0.4lb pork loin, sliced thinly
a dash or two of white pepper powder
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp corn starch

Marinate the pork loin slices with the marinade in advance. Leave refrigerated until cooking time.

(C) Minced pork and marinade
1/4lb ground pork
a dash or two of white pepper powder
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp corn starch

Marinate the ground porks with the marinade in advance. Leave refrigerated until cooking time.

(D) Crispy pork lard
~1/4 - 1/2 cup fat trimmings, rinsed, wiped and patted dry, then cubed

1. Heat a non-stick skillet on high. Lightly spray the skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Once hot, turn the heat down to low.
2. Bring in the fat trimmings and let fry undisturbed in a single layer until the fat gets rendered. Stir once in a while. The whole process may take a while, but do keep a close eye on it.
3. Once they start browning, turn off the heat. The remaining heat and the heat retained within the skillet will continue working on the lard. Once it has turned all crispy looking golden brown, transfer the crispy lards into a small heat-proof bowl, together with its oil.

(E) Crispy fried garlic oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 tbsps cooking oil

1. Heat the cooking oil in a small skillet over high. Once well heated, turn it down to medium-low.
2. Bring in the minced garlic and let fry. Stir regularly to ensure even heat distribution. As soon as it shows a tinge of browning, it will be done in just a matter of seconds so keep an eye on it.
3. When they have turned golden brown in color, remove from heat. Strain through a sieve separating the fried garlic and the oil. Set aside.

(F) Poached egg
3 eggs
1 tsp white vinegar

1. Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil on medium-low. Add in the white vinegar.
2. Working on an egg at a time, break the egg into a small bowl. It's easier to slide them into the water this way.
3. Maintain the water at the point where the bubbles has started forming on the pot surface, right before it starts simmering.
4. Create a gentle whirlpool within the pot using a spatula. Slide the egg gently right into the center of the whirlpool. Let the whirlpool work its way in wrapping the white around the yolk. When the whirlpool starts slowing down almost to a complete stop, recreate one gently. The gentle movement within the pot will prevent the egg from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
5. Let cook for about 3 to 5 minutes (depending on how runny you like you yolk). Remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat steps (2) - (5) with the remaining eggs.

To assemble
~1/2lb flat rice noodles (kuey teow)
12 pork meat balls
1 small piece of pork liver, sliced thinly
1 handful Chinese mustard green (choy sum), rinsed, drained and cut into 2" sections, leaves and stems separated
2 stalks spring onion, chopped for garnishing
birds eye chilies in soy sauce for dipping

1. With the rice noodles, set up a steamer and bring the noodles to steam until soft. Let the noodles cool down for a while before separating them. Bring a pot of water to boil. Briefly blanch the noodles, drain and divide into separate individual bowls.
2. Working on a single serving at a time, spoon in about 2½ cups of broth into a saucepan. Add in 4 pork meat balls and about 1/3 of the choy sum stems. Bring to boil.
3. Once bubbling, add in 1/3 of the sliced pork loins. Scrape off 1/3 of the minced meat (in small portions of about a tsp each time) into the saucepan. Stir, bring to boil and let cook until the meat color changes.
4. Add in 1/3 of the choy sum leaves. Add in 1/3 of the liver slivers last.
5. Pour the content into the individual bowl and finish with a poached egg. Garnish with some spring onions, topping off the bowl with some crispy fried garlic with its oil and some crispy pork lard. Serve hot.


  1. WOW, i feel so hungry looking at your bowl of pork noodles !! look absolutely yummy! Your bowl of noodles has more pork related ingredients than me, hehehe..Anyway, Thanks for your shout out and appreciate the link.

    1. Thanks, Sonia! :) Particularly for that great post of yours and getting me all so motivated!


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