Thursday, May 7, 2009



Funny how I seem to be cooking and eating a lot of pork dishes recently. Somebody asked me if I'm not afraid of getting swine flu. Pigs have gotten a bad reputation mainly due to the old ways of rearing them on leftovers and scraps --they were reared as scavengers really--but the rearing of pigs have been modernized the last 40-50 years and these days pork is about as safe as beef and chicken. And anyway the present swine flu is being transmitted among humans because it is a mutated strain that affects humans. Since I'm in a rambling mood, did you read about the lockdown in a Hong Kong hotel this week? I didn't know of it until a friend told me yesterday. I read it here, and find it quite amusing. It's got the potential of a silly disaster movie, like The Poseidon or some stupid flick like that: a bunch of tourists from all over the world, locked down in a hotel, not knowing who will get the swine flu...

My son Wey was a scrawny kid, thin as a reed because he was a fussy eater. We called him sau meng gai (skinny chicken) and ba bi goong (fuss pot). My MIL would upset me by saying, "Are you feeding him at all? Don't scrimp on money, feed your son!" When she saw him naked in the bath, she'll always say, "Pitiful boy, skin wrapped on bones, he looks thinner than a beggar!"

Then suddenly, when he was 9, he started eating and growing and eating and growing, until he got so fat his face puffed up, all features like nose and eyes buried in the folds. It was my FIL's turn to always upset me by saying, "Hey, don't feed him so much, bu yao hai ta (don't harm him)!" My in-laws always have more freedom of speech than me.

The secret to Wey's sudden liking of food was this: he discovered belly pork, and the fatter it was the more he liked it. Then he discovered he liked it grilled Korean style. He just couldn't get enough of samgyubsal in Korean restaurants, which at RM26/US$7.20 for less than 10 small pieces of pork fat was too just expensive. So I started grilling samgyubsal at home on my old hibachi plate. Sometimes 6 times a week, every week, just as long as he eats. And that's how he got so fat. How did he loose weight then, in the last 2 years? Same way, in reverse. I don't cook samgyubsal except for once in 2 months or so, although tonight after finding the new grill perfect for grilling samgyubsal it looks like Wey will probably be ballooning again. Okay, he also lost weight after I started serving brown rice instead of white. Tonight we had pure white rice mixed with glutinous rice and he said it's his best meal in months. That kid, still a ba bi goong. Fusspot.

Back to samgyubsal. If you, like Wey, prefer your Korean bulgogi plain and not marinaded, this is a really easy way to cook at the table. Just have a stove at the table and each person cooks and helps himself to the meat, best when washed down by a cool beer. Have some side dishes like kim chi, fried anchovies, pickled bean sprouts, toasted crispy laver (gim) and a good hearty Korean soup like samgaetang or yukgaejang or seafood chili soup, and you'll swear it's one of your best meals ever too.



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You can use a seasoned salt dip, available in bottles at Korean marts. In KK, the best Korean mart in terms of variety and prices is Ace Korean Market next to Shikei Restarant (opposite from Chung Hwa Primary School) in Asia City.

a slab of fresh belly pork, skinless, and about 8-10 cm wide
salt & black pepper, toasted lightly in a greaseless wok or pot
Korean chili bean paste
raw garlic, in thin slices
fresh chili peppers (optional)

1. Put the clean belly pork on a large plate into the freezer. Take out when half-frozen. Using a very sharp knife, slice the belly pork into thin slices (not too thin, about 0.5 cm thick). If you can slice it very long, that's fine too becasue you can cut it with scissors after it's cooked but at home, without an electric meat slicer, smaller pieces are easier to cut. This is the only difficult part about preparing samgyubsal--slicing it evenly and neatly.

2. Set up a grill or a skillet, preferably at the table, lay the pork slices all over the grill (no need for oil) and turn on the fire, at low. Let the pork cook while you discuss how dirty politics is.

3. Turn the pork only when the bottom side is golden brown. Turn once only, don't mess it up by turning over and over.

4. To eat, (I would dab away the oil with kitchen paper...) take a piece of lettuce in your hand, dip the cooked pork into the salt & pepper and place on the lettuce, add a few slices of raw garlic and a chili and fold the lettuce into a wrap and take a bite. You can also add a small lump of chili bean paste.

Don't forget to serve with plain white rice. Just add 1 cup of glutinous rice to 2 cups of quality long grain rice, wash and cook as usual.


dana said...

it's near midnite & i got his hunger pangs looking at those yummie oink2 :)

Katie said...

That looks absolutely delicious! I love pork and I find it funny how a lot of people think that just by picking up some pork at their local supermarket will give them swine flu! They really have no clue, but it works out well because pork prices will go down and I'll get to eat more! :P

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

make a deal
I cook u Samgubsal everyday, U wake up on time everyday !

Shan said...

Terri Goshdarnit! You're making me drool again :)

This is one of my fave dishes at The Korean Club but I agree it can be quite pricey if there is more than 2 people dining.

But thanks for the recipe. Where would you suggest getting the fresh pork belly from? Does Tong Hing carry it? I probably wouldn't need very much to cook with to be honest :)

zurin said...

Haha I like the story of Wey getting thin and fat an d thin again. Is it that easy to lose weight by just omitting the pork belly dish? ur in laws are hilarious too! must have been maddening for u!

My late MIL used to say that my daughter was so thin and i said 'shes actually fat but you just cant see the fat on her"She never commented again. LOLOL bt I loved her (MIL)

Agnes said...

scrumptious looking!!! =d

Anonymous said...

hmm.. this is so simple to prepare. yummy yummy..

worldwindows said...

The salt and pepper coating reminds me the Vietnamese using those and some lime juice to great effect for fresh steamed seafood. Salivating!

terri@adailyobsession said...

dana: :D

katie: ha, so u r an oink oerson. just been to ur site--puddy still looks upset.

denise:told wey tt, n he said it's a deal but i'm not falling for it.

shan:if u don't mind paying more, merdeka supermarket carries belly pork.otherwise, try the pork guy at foh san (row of shops adjacent to diamond rest.) or the singing bros at dah yeh villa. don't buy pork at lido market. in fact, don't buy anything at lido. they cheat on the scales.

terri@adailyobsession said...

zurin: don't we all 'love' our MILS. lol

agnes: it is

anon: nothing's simpler...

worldwindows:lime juice n salt..vietnam sounds like my kind of food heaven

Precious Pea said...

I will only give up pork temporarily if it really hit Malaysia. Too good to give it up! I just had a porky banquet last week that costs more than RM1,000. Going to blog about it soon. Oink Oink!

Sean C. said...

You story about your son made me think about my childhood too. There's something in the Chinese cultural mentality of wanting chubby kids but thin tweens that really bugs the heck out of me.

Evidently, I was very skinny as a child which resulted in my grandmother saying the same thing to my mom; something about a me being a boney monkey or what not. This incidently caused my mom to become hypersensitive and decide that serving me deep fried food all the time and otherwise force-feeding me to be a great idea.

However, around the time I was 9 yo, my appetite began to increase and with all the pretraining I got over the years, the results were rather predictable. Then came the: "Oh why you so big la" and the "You have to control your weight". Well, the result is I'm still over-weight and they still say the same things after all these years.

The upshot of this is that I can eat anything that put in front of me, if, you can consider that in upshot.

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