On Master Chef last Monday night, it was a pressure test between the three girls – Rachel, Ellie and Chelsea. Unlike previous pressure tests, no recipes or ingredients were provided to them. They had to rely on taste and smell to recreate the pressure dishes for the judges. The pressure dishes were two of the most common dishes in a Chinese restaurant – Sweet and Sour Pork and Fried Rice.MasterChef Episode 20
I was on the edge on my seat the entire time while watching the cook-off, wishing I were there to share some of my methods of marinating the pork in order to make it tender and to prepare the rice for fried rice etc.
Okay, now let me share with you guys some of my mum’s cooking secrets: to have nice and tender pork in Chinese dishes, it’s best to use the pork tenderloin or fillet as the choice of cut. Also, it’s important to add corn flour in the marinate sauce – this “wonder powder” can tenderize your meat (even with beef and chicken), before the cooking process even begins. You can find more information about “Corn flour in Chinese cooking” here.
To cook the prefect rice, simply use an electric rice cooker. You can get one for about $20-$30 at most white goods stores. Simply add rice and water, press a button and the rice will cooked in no time. Alternatively, the absorption method used by Rachel and Chelsea on the show works as well, but you may need some experience to find the right amount of water to get firmer or softer rice. As a general rule, use one cup of long-grain rice to one and half cup of water. Using a pot with tight fitted lid is important, in order to trap the steam in the pot. After cooking for 12-15 minutes, the rice should have absorbed all the water. You should then take the pot off the heat and let it rest with lid on for 5-10 minutes, so that the steam and moisture will distribute evenly through the rice, especially to the bottom of pot. As a result, you will have a consistent texture from top to bottom.
Sometimes, you may feel your rice maybe too moist for Fried rice. The simple trick is to lay the rice put on an oven tray to cool it down quicker, and put it in fridge for about half an hour. Leftover rice that’s been in the fridge overnight works the best.
I hope my tips can help you to get through your next “Master cooking contest” at home or at your next dinner party. Lastly, Here is my mum’s Sweet and Sour Pork recipe – which I would love to share with everyone. Until next time, happy cooking!
Sweet and Sour Pork
300g of Pork Tenderloin (cut into bite size)
1 medium size green capsicum (cut into small pieces)
1 medium size green onion (cut into small pieces)
4 slice of fresh pineapple or from can (cut into small pieces)
2 stalks shallots (only the while part, cut into 2cm length)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
Sweet and Sour Sauce (as per below)
Oil for deep-frying
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp corn flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp rice wine
Sweet and Sour Sauce
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp oyster sauce
4 ½ tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp water (or if you are pineapple lover, feel free to replace water with pineapple juice)
1 tbsp corn flour
Frying batter (follow below order)
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp of corn flour (or more to thicken batter)
Small pinch of salt
- Combine pork piece with marinade for 15-20 mins.
- Mix all ingredients to make the Sweet and Source Sauce. Set aside.
- Transfer pork piece (after 15-20 mins) into the Frying Batter and well coasted.
- Add in enough cooking oil for deep-fry. Once oil is hot*, deep fry the pork pieces until golden brown. Take out and drain on paper towels
- Heat oil in a wok, add shallots and minced garlic, until fragrant. Shift capsicum pieces to wok, Stir-fry, until you can smell the papery aroma; then add in Sweet and Sour Source. Bring sauce to boil and thickens, transfer pork and pineapple pieces into the wok and stir well. Serve hot with your steamed / fried rice.
*stick the tip of a wooden chopstick into the oil. If bubbles form around the wood and starts to float, then your oil is hot enough to cook with.