Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dear Phil - What's brown and sticky?

A stick of course!


But also, the little bits of pork belly inside these banana-leaf wrapped steamed tapioca cakes that my friend made while I watched.

Would you like the recipe?  Of course you would!

First, you will need banana leaves - and lots of them.  The banana leaves need to be washed thoroughly, and then when you've washed them you need to wipe them down carefully on both sides to remove all the white bloom, and tear them into rectangles about 10 cm wide.  You really need to get your husband to do this bit for you (as my friend did) because it's boring and it takes forever and you would much rather be working on the delicious filling.

OK. So next - the filling.

Cut a nice fat piece of pork belly into small cubes - a couple of centimetres wide.
Mash up some garlic in a mortar and pestle with a small handful of shallots.
Fry up the garlic and shallots until they're soft and aromatic (not too hot - don't want to burn it!).  My friend just uses regular cooking oil.
Add the meat and cook it over a medium heat.  Once it starts to brown, add sugar (quite a bit) salt, soy sauce, fish sauce.
My friend added stock powder - I would recommend using some real stock.  Something meaty and concentrated. Not too much though.   The aim here is to caramelise the meat - not steam it.
And pepper.  Add quite a lot of pepper.
Now add fresh, shelled prawns - chop them so they're quite small like the pork bits.
Cook it all slowly till its nice and brown and very rich in colour.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Easy, right?


Gently heat quite a bit of tapioca starch with quite a bit of water.  I didn't watch this part being done, so I'm not super sure. It probably tells you how to do it on the starch package. The final product is opaque white and sticky - like a very soft dough.


Put maybe a tablespoon of dough in the centre of the banana leaf.  Add a teaspoonful of the meat mixture.  Fold up the banana leaf so the dough mixture is wrapped, tucking the ends underneath. Use strips of banana leaf to tie two little parcels together - ends tucked under sides facing, so they don't unravel.

Steam for just a few minutes.


The tapioca starch goes clear and jellyish under the steam. The whole lot is very delicious, and even if it looks like a sea slug I promise you it doesn't taste like one. 

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