Last year, I was very lucky to experience Malaysia with my awesome mum, for my
quarter life crisis birthday.
Turns out, I hadn’t taken any more than a couple of days off at a time, let alone gone on holiday in over two years. It was two weeks of mum and I taking naps, drinking Pimms, G&Ts, reading books, sleeping through dinner and generally doing SFA. Glorious.
The only thing I was looking forward to most (naps and books aside) was eating. Malaysia is a food mecca. A mix of cultures heavily influenced by the Indian and Chinese. It’s also delicious.
Somewhat luckily, we arrived during the holiday of Ramadan, where there is no eating by the local Muslim population between sunrise and sunset. It’s also a time where the Muslim population ‘go home’, where ever that may be, leaving the restaurants empty. More for meeeeeee!
After a hard day’s shopping/napping/visiting bird parks/visiting butterfly parks, we’d hit a local bar for a Sundowner and then dinner.
What very quickly became our favourite dish was something called Lor Bak. Imagine something akin to a spring roll, but rather than the relative thickness of a spring roll wrapper, imagine pork wrapped in delicate tissue paper, and then fried. The contrasting textures of crunchy outside and delicate pork inside makes for a truly gorgeous feast for the senses.
When this recipe appeared in SBS Feast magazine, I was straight on the phone to mum, excited for the opportunity to recreate something we both enjoyed so much. It was also the first time mum and I had really cooked together. I was really excited to a) learn from her and b) be able to play in A Real Kitchen.
Even more exciting, was that she only rolled her eyes at me once! That’s a new record for me, huzzah!
Now this is a dish that requires a little work. It requires bean curd wrappers, readily available from Asian grocers. Be warned, its honestly like working with tissue paper, delicate and easy to tear. Neither mum or I had worked with them before, so it was a fun learning curve.
Also, look out for the white tendons attached to pork fillet. It’s tough and fibrous; and a bitch to chew. Ask your butcher to remove them, or you can do it yourself.
Fried pork rolls in bean curd skin (Lor Bak)
Adapted from SBS Feast Magazine
1kg pork fillet, trimmed
225g can water chestnuts, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 leeks, white part only, finely chopped
2 tbs Chinese five spice powder
1 tbs caster sugar
50g tapioca flour (from Asian food shops)
2 eggs, beaten
35g plain flour
50g packet Malaysian dried bean curd sheet (from Asian food shops)
1) Slice pork into 10cm bits. Place in a bowl with water chestnuts, garlic, onions, leeks, five-spice, sugar, tapioca flour, eggs and 1/2 tap salt . Mix well.
2) Place plain flour and 60ml water into a small bowl and whisk into thick a batter.
3) Dip bean curd sheets into a tray of hot water for no more than 5 seconds, then carefully (really carefully) unfold onto a large work surface (if you’ve ever made sausages, it looks similar to flat casings). Cut into 15cm x 20cm squares. Repeat until you have 10.
4) Divide pork mix between wrappers, placing mix at one end. Leave a 2cm border from the sides and bottom. Brush the border with the batter, and roll up; folding the sides as you go. Seal the end to the roll with more batter. For tips on rolling the lor bak, check out these here
5) Fill a large wok (or a deep fryer, if you have one), one-third full with oil and heat until 170*c. Working in batches so not to overcrowd the wok, fry rolls for 4 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. They can be sliced on the diagonal for serving with dipping sauce. Serve hot.
They were served with slow roasted Balinese style duck and wok-fried Asian greens.
Yeah, I love dinner at mum’s. I’m spoilt, and I’m ok with that.