April 23, 2014

How to make your own lard Foochow style

Many years ago, when my grandmother Tiong Lien Tie, came to visit us, sometimes staying as long as a month, she would help my mother cook wonderful meals and prepare lard for us. She thought that good Foochow food must be prepared with lard.

She was a very meticulous cook and would slice the pork fat early in the morning. And then when all the breakfast was cleared and we kids were in school, she and my mother would cook the fat in a kuali slowly. It was a kind of safety at home, to prepare lard when the kids were not in the house. She did not want any one of us to be scalded by hot oil.
As the fat was cooking in the kuali, my mother and my grandmother would prepare lunch, which could be two vegetables and a soup, and another dish of fish or meat. We often had black pomfret when my grandmother was around. Mother would buy the best food for her. We loved her coming, because as my brother would say,"If grandmother is with us, we have better food."
The lard will harden and my grandmother would keep it in an enamel cup which has a lid. (It was called Nga Kii Bui, because that kind of cup was mainly used to hold the water when we brushed our teeth. If the lard was a large amount, my grandmother would keep the lard in a big enamal pot, either a green or blue one, made in China.  When placed over the Foochow Stove,this lard would keep for a long time. Somehow lard never seems to go rancid. Today of course we keep our lard in the fridge.
The best part of the lard making was the crispy residual ...which we call Yiu Char in Foochow. Today, many chefs use this to add fragrance to Hokkien Noodles, or Dian Bian Hu or even Mee Sua.

Whenever grandma made lard, she would "harvest" a lot of the yiu char which she would store in a large glass receptacle like Horlicks or Nescafe bottle. She was very good in recycling .  The bottles will keep the yiu char very crispy and they were eaten like condiments, dipped in soy bean sauce. As children we loved watching her carefully picking some of the yiu char for us from her bottle or stock!! And we were also so disciplined that we would never "steal the yiu char from the bottle". Today I would be more cheeky and pick some from the bottle, which would be very bad for my health!!

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