When we first got there, the food came as quite a shock to us. We were not expecting the stuff that was served to us. Fish ball? Century Eggs? What on earth are those things? And the smells, - oh the smells! Everything smelt fishy to us. We lived on PB&J for a couple of weeks, and were quite proud of ourselves for getting on. At school, during breaks we would go out with our Singaporean friends to the local hawker centers, and they would eat and we would watch. Let me tell you, Singaporeans LOVE their food. And slowly, but surely, we began experimenting. In a matter of days, we were eating as much as they were. Wow, that food was amazing.
There are so many dishes I can name that I miss so dearly, and this is one of them. Pau are little steamed buns with a filling. Such amazing fillings. There was the little place in one of the MRT (Metro) stations that served some really awesome barbeque pork pau. Everytime we got off at that station, I just HAD to buy one of those. No matter how late we were running. No matter how long the queue. No matter how little money we had. I just had to get it. I wish I could recreate that exact pau, and I would be set for life. But for now, here is a simpler one that I came up with. The filling is Minced Pork & sesame with Five spice powder.
For the starter
1 tbsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup warm water
Make sure the 1/4 cup of water for the starter is lukewarm.
Mix all the ingredients for the starter in a large bowl and set aside to proof for 1/2 hour.
When the mixture bubbly and has risen, stir in the salt, sugar, oil and warm water.
Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
When you have a soft, very slightly sticky dough, stop adding flour.
Knead well for 10 minutes, form into a smooth ball, and set aside in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with greased clingfilm, and place in a warm place to rise for 2 hours.
At the end of 2 hours, punch down the dough, knead briefly and divide in 16 equal balls.
Flatten each ball with your hand, and spread into a 3 inch circle.
Place a generous teaspoon of the filling in the center, and bring the sides of the circle to the center and pinch the dough to seal. Turn over and slightly flatten. This side should be smooth and slightly rounded.
Set the filled pau on a lightly floured baking tray and allow to rise for about 25 minutes.
Steam them at high heat for about 12 minutes. Serve warm.
Five Spice Sesame PorkIngredients
300g minced pork
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp five spice powder
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp palm sugar
1/4 cup sesame seeds1 1/2 large onions, finely chopped
5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
1 cup fine sliced spring onion (green part)
Marinate the pork with the soy sauce, five spice powder, pepper and sugar for 2-8 hours.
In a dry saucepan, toast the sesame seeds and set aside.
In a large wok or pan, fry the onion and garlic until softened and slightly golden.
Add the pork and stir well to combine. Continue cooking for 7-8 minutes until the ground meat is cooked.
Check the seasoning, and add more soy sauce if you want it saltier.
Add the sesame seeds and stir well.
Stir in the sesame oil, and the sliced spring onion.
Set aside to cool.
The pau we ate never came with a dipping sauce, and they didn't need one for sure. But mine are very different, and the filling is slightly drier. Maybe next time, I won't let it reduce down as much. So, I served the pau with a spicy homemade plum sauce.
1 pound plums, pitted and quartered
1 tsp onion pwd
1 tsp garlic pwd
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 large cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp dried red chili flakes
1 tbsp cornstarch
Combine all these in a saucepan, and cook until the plums have completely disintegrated.
Dissolve the cornstarch in a little water, and stir in. Cook until slightly thickened.
Taste and add more sugar, vinegar or chili flakes, if desired.