Hainanese cuisine in Southeast Asia is a funny old thing. My grandfather was a Hainanese cook in Malaysia from the 1930s through to his death in the 1950s. The Hainanese were relatively new Chinese to the region around that time, so often worked menial jobs or ran restaurants. My grandfather cooked in a rest house and my grandmother was a washer woman there too.
By appearance, this looks like a classic pub feed, but tuck in and discover the enchanting Chinese-inspired gravy with oyster and soy sauces. Divine.
- 60 g (½ cup) cornflour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 8 cream crackers, crushed to the consistency of fine breadcrumbs
- 4 pork chops
- 750 ml (3 cups) canola oil, for shallow frying
- thick oven-baked chips and steamed frozen mixed veggies, to serve
- 25 g butter
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 carrot, cut into 1-cm cubes
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce
- 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
- 75 g (½ cup) frozen peas
- 2 tsp cornflour, mixed with 60 ml (¼ cup) cold water
- black pepper, to season
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Place the cornflour, eggs and crumbs in separate bowls. Dust the pork chops in the cornflour, then dip in the beaten egg, then into the crumbs, pressing to coat well.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat to around 175˚C. Fry the chops for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked to your liking. Drain on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, for the onion gravy, heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the butter and oil. Fry the onion for about 3-5 minutes or until starting to brown. Add the garlic and carrot and fry for a further minute. Add the sauces and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the frozen peas and simmer for 1 minute. Add the cornflour mixture and simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Season with black pepper.
- Serve the pork chops with the onion gravy, oven-baked chips and steamed frozen veggies.
Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.
Photography by Danielle Abou Karam.