I’m a really simple person and I’m easily pleased. Nothing fills my emotional tank more than the opportunity to potter around a kitchen (any kitchen!) and prepare hot meals. I’ve been travelling quite a bit and I do get a kick cooking in under-equipped kitchens in different countries. I do come extremely prepared however, with my own manual food chopper, small chopping board, favourite small kitchen knife and my own condiments. Coming into New Zealand was a little more complex as I couldn’t bring my own dried herbs as the country has strict bio security rules. Of course another happy activity was to potter around the local supermarket and I was also extremely pleased to get my hands on fresh produce and almond flour (the almond flour was to make mug cakes and cookies; a happy indulgence).
Having a very Asian belly, eating salads and sandwiches is really unsatisfying after a couple of days and I had to cook a hot soupy meal before long. I had a deep craving for having Chinese pork ball porridge, which is probably a childhood dish that was reminiscent of a primal comfort moment in my deep past. Chinese rice porridge is something I think most Chinese crave for, although hubs is kind of contrary and he is not fond of porridge as it reminds him of being sick as a child as his Ah Ma (granny) must have forced him to eat that when he was sick. I remember in my teens my family moved into allege colonial bungalow that came with 2 old Cantonese Amah Chehs (Singapore used to have these redoubtable old domestic helpers from Southern China who wore black pants and white samfoo top). The previous occupants in the home were from the UK, and these 2 old amahs must have been used to making typical British fare. I remember being miserably sick one day and craving a bowl of hot rice porridge and being given a bowl of oatmeal porridge instead. I was extremely dismayed and it became a lasting memory of a personal encounter of a huge cultural and communication divide.
Over the years I’ve discovered that there’s nothing like making what you like to eat yourself. I don’t always get to do this because of my rather hectic schedule, which is why going away and having access to a kitchen is usually a happy occasion. I had a serious craving for pork balls – they can be pan fried or baked or cooked in soup. The tricky thing about most meatballs is the fact that there are usually fillers like flour or bread crumbs incorporated into the mix. I usually break up the texture using finely chopped vegetables. Unfortunately I couldn’t find Napa cabbage in the supermarket and so I just put more almond flour in instead.
The pork balls turned out remarkably tasty. I think it was serendipitous that I had carried a new bottle of Cajun spices in my bag as this is one of the most versatile spice mixes around (it’s also great for bolognese sauce or chilli). I was a little afraid that this would make the pork balls un-Asian in flavour, but it actually worked surprisingly well. In the end, the pork balls were relatively tender (at least not like something one would throw against the wall with a thunk sound). The pork balls can also be frozen and used again later; truth to tell I saved half the pork balls for later use today for lunch with a friend.
So today I’m thankful for the wonderful gift of low carb Asian pork balls and the most comforting bowls of soup and porridge ever! Simplicity rules.
Pork Ball Porridge
- 500g ground pork
- 1 large shallot or 1/2 medium white onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp Cajun spice (optional! I just had this on hand)
Cauliflower rice porridge
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 4 cups of chicken stock (unsalted)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 2 cups of fresh baby spinach leaves
- Mix the pork ball ingredients together well and form into 2-3 cm balls. This should make about 40 pork balls. Set aside.
- Cut the cauliflower into florets and with a food processor, chop the florets into fine rice-sized pellets.
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the salt, pepper and cauliflower rice and boil for about 10 minutes.
- Add the pork balls and boil for another 5 minutes. Skim off any scum that may rise to the surface.
- Add the spinach leaves and stir through. Turn off the heat and serve immediately.