Sunday 18 February 2007

sang choi bau

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Today is Chinese New Year and it’s the Year of the Pig!

My little sister, Amy, is a Pig. When she was a kid we called her Porky and that was before we even knew her Chinese star sign!

I decided about two months ago that I never eat pork and that I would have to rectify this situation because pork is a tasty meat.

With Sydney in full swing preparing for Chinese New Year, I decided I’d give myself a challenge: I’ll make a variety of pork recipes for the first seven days of the Year of the Pig.

At first I was going to announce this as a bloggers event and invite everyone to make pork recipes - but then some killjoy friends questioned whether roasting, frying and grilling the sacred animal of the year was inappropriate - so I decided to keep this as a one woman show.

So today I announce my Chinese New Year Pork Festival in honour of the Year of the Pig. For the rest of this week you’ll find pig related recipes from around the world:

Sang Choi Bau
Pork Mains Recipe Carousel
Ragu di Salsiccia
Pork Vermicelli Salad
Jamon y Higos (ham & figs)
Maiale al Vino (pork in wine) 

Honeydew & Ham Salad

Apologies, but it’s an unhappy coincidence that my announcement lands on the occasion when Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by the lovely Chocolate Lady at In Mol Araan (the goddess of all things Yiddish). I just hope my pork gluttony does not offend her and my other Kosher pals out there: רעטצמ ינא

Without further ado, I’m kicking off the pork fest, appropriately, with an old favourite from China: sang choi bau.

When I was a kid, and the South East Asian population in Sydney hadn’t taken off to make Thai the staple meal, Chinese restaurants reigned. I remember how exciting it was when a little Chinese restaurant opened up near our rural outskirts home in the far north of the city. Sang choi bau was always my favourite dish.

Sang Choi Bau
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4 as an entrée or 2 as a main.

Iceberg lettuce, broken into small cups
¼ cup canned chestnuts in water, chopped
3cm piece fresh ginger, grated finely
300g pork mince
2 scallions (shallots)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons kecap manis
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Dash of fish sauce (optional)
1. Slice the scallions very finely, separating the hard white parts and the herby green parts.
2. Heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan. Add the white part of the scallions, the garlic and the ginger. Fry until softened.
3. Add the pork and the water chestnuts and fry, being sure to continually break apart clumps of mince as it cooks.
4. When the surface of the pork is browned, add the kecap manis and soy sauce. Fry until mince is complete cooked.
5. Remove from heat and stir through green parts of the scallion, saving some for garnish.
6. Put pork into serving bowl and garnish with scallions. You can either serve the meat in a communal bowl from which everyone takes as they go, or you can serve it individually. Serve with iceberg lettuce.
Note: lettuce can be refreshed and crispier if put into freezing ice water for a minute before serving. Be sure to dry leaves with a paper towel before using them.
The Chinese water chestnut Eleocharis dulcis is a sedge (water grass) that grows in freshwater swamps, marshes and flooded rice fields. Its tubular, leafless stems can grow to 1.5 metres tall, although it is cultivated for its corms.

In fact the white corms remain crisp even after cooking, making them popular in Western-style Chinese food. The corms can be eaten raw, boiled, grilled or pickled. They can be even ground down to make flour.

Nutritionally, the water chestnut is rich in carbohydrates as well as dietary fibre, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. But watch out – uncooked fresh water chestnuts can pass on Fasciolopsiasis, an intestinal infection caused by parasitic flukes (worms).

Water chestnuts grow in many varieties across China, South East Asia, India, Polynesia, New Guinea and northern Australia. In the Northern Territory, the native Australian variety is small, sweet and a food source for millions of birds. Water chestnuts are currently cultivated in Japan, Taiwan, China and Thailand as well as in Australia.

I have discovered two very interesting water chestnut recipes from this research (a dessert and a drink) so I plan to blog about these one day too.

In the meantime, please visit the In Mol Araan for the WHB recap and come back to Morsels & Musings throughout the week to check out my Chinese New Year Pork Festival.




  1. Anna, I love your idea for a Chinese Pork festival, and I don't think TCL will mind at all. I'm cooking Bean Soup with Ham and Swiss Chard myself right now, so I guess we're both cooking pig on the first day of the year of the pig.

    This dish sounds fantastic, and it's one of my favorites to order in Chinese restaurants!

  2. Hi Anna,
    Kalyn is right (as always!) I don't mind at all and this is a wonderful post. Since I will be choosing one illustration, I think I will pick that gorgeous (and vegetarian) botanical drawing of water chestnuts.

  3. What a lovely recipe Anna! It sounds delicious and look even more delicious. Happy Chinese New Year to You!!!

    Oh, i've just remembered... wedding coming up very soon! You must be so hectic right now. :)


  4. yes, i'm really hectic indeed! trying to distract myself with these pork recipes.

    only 11 more days to go!

  5. I love your 'pig party'.
    And I love water chestnuts but I can't find them anywhere here. I've been looking for over a year. Bamboo Shoots, yes but they're not what I want.


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