Both sides of my family are Hakka. My mah mah (paternal grandma) used to cook Stuffed Mushroom with Pork Caul Fat Web when we visited her every Sunday. Mamie (mother) liked it so much that she went home and tried replicating it. Several times. Using us the children as guinea pigs.
Mamie is a great cook but this time, her attempts weren’t successful, partly because she worked full-time and didn’t have time to prepare it, and partly because her pork web always turned out gamy.
What is pork caul fat? It’s a thin weblike membrane that surrounds the stomach. It’s usually thrown away, but if you’re on good terms with the butcher, s/he would probably give you for free. In Singapore, butchers call it mang sai yo. I am punished for always buying at supermarkets and the butcher didn’t know me, and charged me $1.
I created the dish from memory and when I asked my dad whether it tasted like mah mah’s version, he said, “NO!… but it’s not bad.” Hahaha.
2 tsp hae bee (dried shrimps)
200g minced pork
2 tbsp minced green onion
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp shaoxing
1 tbsp soy sauce
12 Shiitake mushrooms
A fistful of pork caul fat web
Mushroom water reserved from steaming
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tbsp shaoxing
1 tsp cornstarch
To Garnish (Optional)
Finely chopped green onions and red chilli
1. Soak pork web in lemon water for 30 min, drain, and use hand to squeeze out excess water.
2. Soak dried shrimps for 15 min, drain, and use hand to squeeze out excess water. Mince.
3. Remove stems from mushrooms. Rinse, not soak, them. Leave it aside to drain.
4. Mix thoroughly the dried shrimps, ground pork, green onion, ginger, cornstarch, shaoxing, and soy sauce. Fill the mushroom caps with the mixture, then wrap the pork web around it. If there is pork leftover, you can roll them into balls and wrap them with pork web.
If you have extra minced pork, roll them into balls and wrap them with pork web.
5. Steam for 10 mins. (Make sure pot is already steaming before putting the mushrooms in.) The fatty membrane would melt and permeate into the meat and mushroom, giving robust and rich flavors.
6. You think it’s finished?? Hahaha. Don’t be naive. Hakkas are poor but we have dignity. Put the mushrooms on another plate, reserving the mushroom water from steaming.
7. In a small bowl, mix in everything under “Gravy.” Then, on high heat, throw the gravy into a sauce pot, stir continuously until it thickens.
8. Pour gravy over mushrooms. Add garnish (optional). Serve immediately. I eat it with rice.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.