Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Teochew Dish and a Soup- Heritage Food Trail

Gong fu tea
picture credit:chinavista
This post is intended for the submission to the Heritage Food Trail organised by Edith of precious Moments. It is an event to know and understand better the food and cuisine of each dialect group ie Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Kelantanese, etc etc, all of which are unique and distinctive in their own ways. What I'm bringing up here is a Teochew dish and a soup, these were some of the dishes that my grandma used to cook for my grandfather.

Before that, just to talk a little about my grandparents. They were immigrants from China to Malaya in the 1920s and were here to earn a better living. They were from the district of Shantou, also used to be known as Swatow. They were Teochew people, they speak the teochew dialect. Few of my uncles and cousins who stayed with them know how to speak the dialect but not my mum. Neither do I. My grandfather drinks Oolong tea everyday, in Gongfu tea style..with that miniature set of teapot and cups. They eat porridge most of the time, hardly see them eating  rice. As far as i can remember, i always see steamed fish and salted vegetables on the table. After checking with my mum, she told me about these 2 dishes. My mother is not a great cook, she's not really fond of cooking. I think some of the dishes that she learnt from my grandma were probably these two and also Or Nee, a kind of sweet yam dessert.

This bok choy soup tastes a little similar to the 'choi keok' that we chinese normally eat, minus the spiciness. Though it looks like the dried vegetables soup but it's different. It's a little sour in taste and the soup sweetness comes from all the bones that we put in. While my grandma put in all sorts of bones, my mum suggested to put in the roasted pork trotters and some chicken meat for sweetness.According to my mum, this is my grandfather's favourite soup. Though it doesnt really look appealing, it's a very nice and appetising soup. I'm not really sure if this is a Teochew kind of soup but surely comes from a Teochew grandma who cooks Teochew dishes all the time.

Now what you see on the right is a popular kind of teochew dish, you can find this in almost all teochew restaurants or food stalls. It's a kind of braised meat.. pig's cheek and ears to be exact. I know this may sound disgusting and yucky to some of you, well.. if i were not exposed to these kind of food from young, i would probably think like you too. It's normal. My grandpa likes to eat these, one cooked in this way and another one, just boil them till tender and serve with garlic chilli dipping sauce.  It's my first time cooking this, instructions and method come from my mum, no proper measurement.." just taste as you cook along", she told me. Besides this, the teochew people will also like to add in pork belly, tau foo and eggs together with the cheek and ears. Not that i'm also fond of eating this but i think it's nice to show some of the food coming from the Teochew group. If you are keen to cook a dish based on a heritage , do join in the event. Details can be found here.

ingredients for soup

Bak Choi Soup
400gms bak choi ( cut into pieces)
600gm roasted pork trotter, chop into pieces
500 gm chicken meat, cut into pieces
110gms mushroom
3 bulb smoked garlic, flatten
3000ml water
salt to taste.

Put in all the ingredients into a pot, bring it to boil, lower fire and continue to cook for 1.5 hrs.
Note: quite a big pot of soup, can serve 5-6 people. You can easily adjust the amount of ingredients to cook a smaller portion.

Braised Pig's Cheek and Ears
300gm pig's cheek and ears, (cleaned and torched, this can be done by the butcher)
700ml water
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
3 pieces licorice/ 'kam chou'
4 star anise
1/2 clove garlic, flatten

1. Clean the pig's cheek and ears and blanched under boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove and discard water.
2.In a pot, put in water, oyster sauce, light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, licorice, star anise, garlic and pigs cheek and ears and bring to boil. Once boil, lower fire and let simmer for about 1 hour till meat is tender but not too soft and gravy is thicken.


  1. Lena, today is my birthday so can I come to your home for that wonderful Teochew dish. No kidding, this is one of my favorite Teochew dish especially the pigs ears. The first time I bought this dish at a Chinese Supermarket in US, my Quay Lo's eyeballs almost popped out! hahaha it was SOOO funny and I wished I had taken a photo of his expression!

  2. These Teochew dish looks good!! My hubby and I like to eat Teochew porridge at the stall opposite Beauty World when we have a chance.

  3. Oh yea, I heard Teowchews eat lots of porridge, those "blooming rice' versions, not the smooth smooth Cantonese porridge.
    I see these pork ears all the time at Swatow Restaurants.
    I always order the tofu whenever I dine there.

  4. The braised dish is one of our family favourites, minus piggie's cheeks and ears that is, prefer the tofu, pork belly, eggs and the duck instead. I dont mind going with just the sauce a bowl of teochew porridge, so warm and homey :)

  5. Lolz at Quay Po Cooks's comment on the pig's ears. Same for the pig's blood when one Aussie after finishing the meal commented the tofu is soft, smooth and nice and asked why such color? Guess you can imagine the same reaction like QuayLo when its pig's blood.

    Bananaz loves teow chew moi but not so much on the crunchy pig's ears.

  6. wow! I love pigs' ears! so succulent yeah? teochews call this texture "sao sao" with a nasal tone, to mean to produce a nice "crunch".

    I've not tried to make these at home as its not easy to buy pig ears in supermarkets anyway. Definitely will give it a try when I can!

  7. I have to admit I had reservations about less-familiar dishes/ingredients like pig's ears for the longest time till I finally tried it... and it was crunchy and yummy!

    Hooray for trying new things! (Even when they are old recipes/dishes for many others, haha.)

  8. Lena, I am lucky to say that I ate pig's ear before but prepared in a hakka way coz my granny's neighbour was hakka and it was delicious. I am sure the teochew method yield the same.

    Unfortnately I still lack that cooking level to prepare this so I am going to drool on yours.

    Thanks for joining in the fun.

  9. So long i did not eat pig's ear, you even know how to cook this dish, i dont know how to clean it,hehehe.Thanks for sharing Heritage foods.

  10. Looks so good, Lena! I'm into most "spare parts"! Hehehe! Love pigs ears, so crunchy and chewy! I used to dislike Teowchew Porridge when I was young, but now I love it! Can be really costly eating this porridge from the restaurant, and they serve only small portions of the dishes! Wish I could join you for dinner! Am drooling here!

  11. I would love to try this but not much chance of finding the ingredients around here! Diane

  12. Love all those braised teochew 'lor' dishes, but the pig's cheeks and ears are a first. I've bookmarked this(:

  13. you are making me very hungry again. these 2 dishes sure look mouth-watering! pls post more non-bake food ok? wanna learn how to cook from you :P

  14. this is interesting Lena, now i got to know a little bit about you. I admit i really don't know much about teochew food except for the grainy porridge and that the teochews seem to love adding preserved veg & tomato to their dishes.

  15. How very very interesting! I am totally intrigued and can't believe you made this. It is awesome girl

  16. It is always interesting to hear about heritage food. I like oolong tea too.

  17. to make or nee..that is my favourite..

  18. quay po: happy birthday! i hope by now you've seen my message to you back at your blog! oh dear, i can imagine quay lo seeing you buying and eating that with disbelief!!

    tze: nice to hear that you and hubby enjoy eating teochew dish too!

    wendy: yeah, that blooming porridge, i read that they call it something like ' mountain and sea' porridge!

    litehomebake: ha! so you're one of them who got scared by their cheeks and ears!

    bananaman: what?! pig's blood as tofu?? haha! that must be shocking for him that he has eaten the blood!!

    alan: yeah, the ears are very crunchy, ' chok chok chok' and i cat eat much, i find them very rich especially the cheeks!

    kenny: i'm sure by now you wont miss a chance trying any food in regardless how weird they sound..remember that tongue you had in taiwan?!

    edith: you're welcome. It's really nice and interesting seeing and learning some of the dishes that have posted up recently for the event! it's learning for all of us!!

    sonia: oh, you can ask the butcher to clean it up for you. When you bring it home, just blanched them over boiling water and scrap off those dirts and hair off the skin.

    joyce: oh really?? you like those internal stuffs? yeah , it's quite expensive here too..sometimes just a few dishes will cost over rm20!all come with small plates!

    diane: yes, i'm not surprised that you wont be able to get these stuffs over there.

    shuhan: hi, i love braised duck the most. yeah, hope you will try this out some day.

    Hoong2: ok ok, will try to post more home cooked food, ya.Dont forget Jane, she's a terrific cook!

    sotong: tomatoes? really? actually it's been quite some time i last had teochew food at a rest. There's also a kind of braised cabbage which is quite popular, nothing else, just cabbage. i quite like time if you happen to eat from the food stalls, see if you can find that.

    jessica: i've been thinking a while whether to cook this dish or not but thinking it might be nice to introduce this food especially the cheeks and ears to readers.

    mk girl: oh really? you really know how to appreciate tea!!

  19. claire: next time i make one, will post it up especially for you!! ha!

  20. YUM, my FIL will love this, he is one big fan of Teowchew porridge and its side dishes!

    Re Fisher Price's review and contest: It all started whn one of my friend invited me to join a blogger workshop, organised by Adverlets( Then I started receiving various offers frm other co like Fisher Price, and get to promote their products while they gave me the reviewed products in return.=)

  21. Teowchew wife favourite....

  22. My hubby loves Teochew dishes and you're a great cook, Lena :)

  23. What a lovely assortment of recipes. I'm sure they will be well received by folks participating in the Heritage event. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  24. I always see friends and relatives enjoy eating braised pig's cheek and ears, but unfortunately I’m not one of them. No, they are not disgusting, it is always interesting to learn heritage through different foods. Thanks for sharing.

  25. I would love some of those pig ears! They are great with beer.

  26. just "taste as you cook along"...I learn how to cook via this way too. The soup must be so flavorsome. I actually just had some pigs' ears yesterday :O

  27. You are great in all this traditional cooking. I need you to impart lots of these "Kung Fu" and acknowledges to me. These dishes look delicious!

  28. pig ears yoooo, my favourite!!

  29. Been soooo long since I last ate this type of teochew food! I love this with do cook them so well!