WHEN my sisters and I get together, we go shopping. When my mother and her sisters are together, they cook.
Last week, my two aunts were visiting, and my mother decided that they should make lor bak (meat roll) since “there are so many hands”.
It’s also because I was home too, and it’s one of my favourites.
Lor Bak is slivers of pork lightly seasoned with five spice powder and rolled up in beancurd sheet, and then deep-fried.
There are also bits of sengkuang (yambean), onions and spring onions in the rolls. Everyone has a variation of this recipe. My eldest aunt put leeks in hers instead of sengkuang, and my third aunt prefers yam.
The most important thing is that the meat has to be tender and tasty.
The lor bak I have at home is unlike the hawker stall versions – where the meat is tough, and rolled up in double layers of beancurd sheet.
Lor Bak is one of the must-haves in my family’s big cook-ups, which is usually during Chinese New Year, and big prayer occasion such as during my great-grandparents’ death anniversaries, and weddings.
During those times, all the children have to help out in the kitchen as there are lots of cutting and slicing to do. Wrapping the lor bak was my specialty chore. My grandmother’s instructions were that the rolls must not be too thick, or they’ll take too longer to cook. The rolls have to be compact, and wrapped in only a layer of beancurd sheet.
I also do the deep-frying. Make sure you have enough oil in the wok. Heat the oil till it’s hot, but not smoking hot. Tear a piece of beancurd sheet, and put it into the oil. It should immediately rise to the top, with oil bubbling gently around it.
You also have to watch the fire. If the oil is too hot, lower the fire because you don’t want to end up with blackened rolls. But if the fire is too low, the rolls will absorb too much oil.
Aside from that, I’ve never really attempted to make lor bak because it just seems too daunting. And I am not too confident about getting the seasoning right. But last week, I took detailed notes and weighed the ingredients because my mother only has one reply to measurements, “It depends on how much you are making. if you make more, put more….”
Anyway, here’s the recipe
(makes 35-40 rolls)
1 kg of pork, ask the butcher for a tender cut (seong yuk)
1 tsp of five spice powder
1 medium sengkuang
2 stalks of spring onion
150g green pea flour
1 tbsp tapioca flour
salt, white pepper and sugar, according to taste
Cooking oil for deep frying
Cut the pork into slivers. Marinate with the five spice powder and a teaspoon of salt and white pepper. Mix together and leave aside.
Peel the sengkuang and carrot. Cut the sengkuang, carrot and spring onion into matchsticks. Dice the onions.
In a mixing bowl. put the the pork with the sengkuang, carrot, spring onion onion, onions and mix well.
Then, add the eggs, green mung bean flour, tapioca flour and seasoning. Mix well.
Cut the beancurd sheet into long sheets with a width of 12cm. Place the filling at the end of the sheet, and roll it tightly. Roll it only once so that it’s only wrapped in a layer of the sheet.
Heat the cooking oil, and deep fry the rolls. Serve with chilli sauce.