Pon Teh is a traditional Nyonya dish which every Nyonya should have in her repertoire and it definitely taste much better the next day as by then the meat would have infused in the gravy. For those who are not familiar with this dish, you can braise this dish, either with Chicken or Belly Pork and I opt for the latter because the next day, the meat is still intact and having some fats on the meat makes for a smoother texture.
I learnt this dish from my esteemed Mother in Law, one of the best Nyonya cooks that I know; she can even make the most simple dish more tasty; perhaps I am biased as she does have some "magic" in her fingers and whenever she presents the food on the dining table, you can rest assured that she would have wiped the rim of bowl or plate clean and the food would be neatly stacked; one fantastic Nyonya. Haha, one con in having a fantastic cook in your MIL is that yr better half will at some time or rather, unintentionally, say, with no malice intended, "Mummy did not add this!!!" Thank goodness it is Not, "Mum WAS a better cook than you", haha, I probably would have stage a boycot and not cook a couple of meals. Sorry for deviating, I was saying as I learnt this from my MIL, there is no Exact measurement of any ingredient and as I know this dish like the back of my palm, sorry, I never measured Everything :( but dont worry it is a fool proof recipe if it is not up to yr taste adjust with salt and a little sugar. Mum just shared with me that except for the shallots & garlic, there is no hard and fast rule. She told me that the shallots should be 50% more than the garlic and though she may have passed away in 1988, I always remember what she taught me in the cooking department, thanks Mum for being a good mentor. RIP mum. Ophelia
1 kg Belly Pork
16 medium size Shallots/small Onions, pound finely
8 medium size Garlic, pound finely
1 1/2 Chinese soup spoon ground Tau Cheong [use a brand that is Not so salty]
8 Dried Mushrooms
4 medium size Potatoes
Water [I normally add the water 1 1/2 inches higher than the height of the meat]
1 Tabsp Black Soya Sauce
1/2 Tabsp Sugar
adequate Salt, If necessary, as Tau Cheong is salty by itself
- Boil the mushrooms in some hot water for 10 - 15 minutes. It is much faster to boil the mushrooms than to soak then in hot water :) .
- Fry the pounded Shallots in sufficient oil than the Garlic and grounded Tau Cheong till fragrant.
- Add in the meat. Stir fry for 5 minutes in order to seal in the juices [this way, your meat will be moist].
- Add in sufficient water, Black Soya Sauce, mushrooms & bring it to a boil. Once boiling reduce fire to medium low & simmer for 40 minutes till belly pork is cooked. [As potatoes cook quite fast, ADD Potatoes after 20 minutes of simmering [*Add Salt & Sugar Now] and let it further simmer for another 20 minutes i.e. Total cooking time approximately 40 minutes]. Another tip is if you prefer to have a slightly more thicker consistency, add mash a few of the cooked potato and then at the end of cooking but I would rather not as next day the gravy gets thicker [It always taste better the next day].
1. To really get a feel good feeling, you Must make sambal belacan; squeeze limau kasturi juice and eat this together with some fried Salted Fish and Pon Teh as Pon Teh is rather bland and needs the Sambal Belacan to jazz things up. I am also terrible; From young, and still do, I love to pour quite a bit of gravy on my rice and then mix quite a bit of sambal belacan on it and after eating, I would slurp the soup off my plate, yummilicious!!! If you havent made Pon Teh, try it and you would find it is a good comfort food.
2. I like to add Salt [IF NECESSARY] after 20 minutes of simmering as I like to "kid" myself as then some of the water would have evaporated and I would use slighty less than if at the Very beginning and to put it then would be better than at the last minute as you would allow the Salt and Sugar to infuse the meat and the gravy.
3. Sugar is my own concotion as I believe you need to add in a little to sort of balance off the flavour :)
4. Belly meat is better as if you were to eat just the lean meat alone, the lean meat would not be tender and succulent.
5. The dish taste better the next day as then it would have, more time, to infuse properly in the flavourful gravy.
6. Chicken wings and whole chicken leg can be substituted in place of Belly Pork. I dont mind the chicken but next day when you warm it up to eat; sometimes the chicken meat may disintergrate.
7. If you abhor using sugar, try using instead a chucky piece of Turnip/Seng Kuang/Bangkuang for a natural sweetness. Before adding it in, I like to use a knife and poke it around to encourage the juice to come out easily :) but this is a sway from the norm, at one of my classes where Pon Teh was one of the things the Chef was teaching, he used theTurnip.
Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia.