I’ve been in a bit of frenzy lately, trying to tie up loose ends on work, run tonnes of errands, and squeeze in that all-important Christmas shopping on an extremely tight budget. So even though holidays have begun for M, who has finished his exams recently, and I have been relieved of wifely duties that I’ve so diligently kept to when poor M was buried under piles of books, I have been finding it a little hard to cope with the ‘holidays’ (or not). I haven’t been cooking, or baking (except for scones and a special something that I’ve whipped up for Christmas – watch this space!), so I haven’t been able to relax very much with my hobbies. If you have been reading (thank you for coming back), you might have noticed that I have also been tardy on the blogging front for I have admittedly, lost inspiration in some ways. I haven’t said much on this, not until I have mulled things over long enough…I am contemplating to keep this blog as a private diary because I am feeling unconfident about writing, taking good food photos and embarrassed about putting up my silly stuff for the world to see, whoever ‘world’ is. Yes I am a bag of hormones sandwiched between work stress and a lack of confidence, not such a good combination right now and I’m hoping it won’t be here to stay.
As a cure, transient as it surely will be, I looked through my archives to see what I’ve done in the past few months, and there, there, I came across one of my favourite creations – Marmite and Coffee Pork Chops. So once upon a time, I was able to cook something well, I was inspired and energetic, and I was growing on the photo-taking front even though I wasn’t good at it. I was learning a lot and I liked it. But now I’m stagnant, or getting worse, because my thick head just can’t seem to pick up anything new. I think such is the difference between someone with talent and aptitude to grow, and someone who’s just a wannabe. Pffft. Allow me, the wannabe, to live in the past though…until I get out of this inertia and hopefully learn again.
Less on the emo crap, and more on the pork chops. I became obsessed with Marmite over the past few months (see this and this), and found that whilst it can be overpowering, Marmite lends a unique and subtle savoury kick that we can’t quite get with any other condiments when it is used in small quantities. One day, I had a box of pork chops waiting to be cooked properly. At that time, I had just returned to London from Singapore, and I was missing zi char (hawker style stir-fry) very badly. I also had a strange craving for coffee pork ribs. But I didn’t want to just have coffee pork. I wanted something more, something with oomph and so I decided to try making Marmite & Coffee Pork Chops instead. I haven’t seen it on zi char menus, but it may exist and some of you may have tried this. But it’s my first time experimenting with these flavours and they turned out to be a divine marriage of intense flavours. I Cleopatra-ed my pork chops, meaning that I steeped them in milk for two hours to tenderise the chops, before frying them in as little oil as I could manage to achieve a deep-fried texture (I don’t like to waste oil…). I used cornflour for a lighter, more flaky batter and it was a really good call to do so. I can also see why Cleopatra was rumoured to love soaking in milk baths; the milk made the chops impossibly tender and it’s my favourite tenderising agent now.
Instead of letting this flaky batter down by drenching the chops with the Marmite and coffee gravy, I made a thick dipping sauce instead. You can tweak the sauce to the consistency that you prefer by omitting or including the plain flour in the sauce recipe. I like my chops to be crispy, hence the dipping sauce. If you want to coat the chops all over with the sauce, you will want to take a notch down on the flavours as my dipping sauce is made to be very concentrated and may overpower your palette – go easy on the honey, Marmite, brown sugar and coffee powder!
The result? Pork chops that are crispy on the outside and so very tender on the inside, complete with savoury-sweet Marmite sauce with a deep hint of aromatic coffee – perfect with fluffy white rice! This is a dish that is here to stay in my kitchen, and I hope you will enjoy it too! If you don’t like Marmite, feel free to substitute the sauce with something else, such as tonkatsu sauce for a Japanese twist.
Here’s the recipe:
Marmite & Coffee Pork Chops
For the pork chops:
600-700g boneless pork chops (should be about 4 pieces), leave fat on
1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
500ml whole milk
1 teaspoon Marmite
10 tablespoons cornflour
2 teaspoons salt
Dash of black pepper
1. Mix wine, milk and Marmite together, set aside.
2. Tenderise pork chops using the sharp end of your knife.
3. Soak pork chops in the milk bath for 2 hours at room temperature (if you’re in a cool climate) or in the fridge overnight.
4. Squeeze pork chops to remove the excess milk, coat in batter mixture made of cornflour, salt and pepper.
5. Deep-fry in sunflower oil (I filled my saucepan with oil to about 1-2cm in height and it was enough) till pork chops turn golden brown on both sides.
Marmite & Coffee Dipping Sauce:
2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons Marmite
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 and 1/2 tablespoons coffee powder
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon plain flour
1. Heat all ingredients (except plain flour) in saucepan and stir continuously till mixture comes to boil.
2. Take saucepan off the heat and stir in plain flour to thicken the sauce.
3. Serve as a dipping sauce with the fried pork chops, white rice is a must!