The Hong Kong-born proprietor of Junzi Kitchen bands together with the star of Crazy Rich Asians to cook this Hong Kong classic, all the while breaking down its culinary genius
American restaurant recommendation website The Infatuation has launched a new print zine called IYKYK, targeting readers who want to "learn about foods they may not know about and also instill pride and excitement in those who do".
To mark the first issue, which focuses on the humble East-meets-West cuisine of Hong Kong's very own cha chaan teng, chef Lucas Sin of New York's Junzi Kitchen banded together with actor and comedian Jimmy O. Yang to host an Instagram Live where the duo recreated the iconic baked pork chop rice while unravelling the complex cultural narratives around the dish, and their own personal experiences with Chinese, and by extension Chinese-American, cuisine. Donations during the Instagram Live, totalling over HK$20,000, went to the Stop AAPI Hate Initiative by Chinese For Affirmative Action, and were matched by Yang.
Here are just some of the key takeaways from the cooking session:
- When choosing a cut of pork for this dish, Sin recommends the shoulder chop (known as mui tau yuk in Cantonese) over the usual pork loin chop often found in Chinese-American eateries thanks to its marbling and fat content. The best way to tenderise this cut is to pummel it with the blunt side of a cleaver in a diamond pattern, until the meat is half as thick.
- Every component of the pork marinade serves a function, from the corn starch creating a velvety texture, and the role of Shaoxing wine in removing any unpleasant smell of raw meat, and sugar to balance the salinity of the soy sauce. Sin recommends squeezing the marinade into the pork to force the flavours in.
- Traditionally, there are two options for your rice base: white rice or fried rice (called chau dai, literally "fried base"). It's important to cover the rice base of this dish completely with pork chop and cheese, as any exposed rice will dry out when baked in the oven.
- Yang raised the concept of 'reheat value', a concept that's inherently understood in Asian cuisine but rarely spelled out—think Japanese curry, which always tastes better the next day, or the age-old recommendation to only use day-old white rice to make any fried rice dishes. He rates pasta and soup dumplings as having the worst reheat value, and, naturally, baked pork chop rice as the best.
Watch the entire, 1.5-hour-long Instagram Live below.