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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hainanese Pork Chops And My Hometown

*Hainanese Pork Chops are so delightfully nostalgic - they always remind me of my hometown and Jin, my Hainanese classmate in Form 3 (9th Grade). Jin's parents used to own a coffee shop and they served the best pork chops in town!
I am not sure if it was my fascination for Jin's quaint old *shophouse or her mom's ethereal marble cake and melt-in-the-mouth pork bun  that drew me but I used to hang out at Jin's place a lot  wayyyyyyy back in those days.

*Shophouses are typically two storied buildings, with a shop on the ground floor for mercantile activity, a kitchen in the back and living quarters upstairs.
image credit - Highlanderimages
Many of these dilapidated colonial-style pre-war houses in my hometown have been demolished for redevelopment. Georgetown, Penang has the largest cluster of pre-war shophouses and is  a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site
A typical Hainanese coffee shop with marble table tops and tiled walls. Notice the wooden-planked staircase leading to the living quarters upstairs.
image-credit : Highlanderimages
 I can still recall the aroma of charcoal-toasted bread wafting into Jin's room from the kitchen downstairs while we chatted and listened to the melancholic voice of Karen Carpenter on the squeaky cassette player in Jin's room. Jin would play the songs over and over again.
Isn't it funny how you associate certain tastes and sounds to your childhood? Listening to Karen's voice still sends shivers down my spine!  Her voice was so hauntingly beautiful and effortless.

*Hainanese refers to the Chinese who originate from Hainan Island, the southernmost and smallest Chinese province. Towards the turn of the 20th century, many Hainanese migrated to various Southeast Asian countries, where they worked as cooks, restaurateurs, coffeeshop owners, sailors, and hoteliers.
In Malaysia (known as Malaya then), most Hainanese worked as cooks in British military camps and in the homes of British expatriates during the colonial days. Many of them transported their culinary prowess to their own coffee shops.
The Hainanese Pork Chop is a western origin using a combination of western and Chinese ingredients and is unique to Malaysia and Singapore.

Here's a recipe to share though it is no way as good as Jin's secret recipe.

Hainanese Pork Chops

6 slices pork fillet
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce (optional)
salt to taste
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 cup Canola Oil
2 eggs, beaten
8 pcs Cream Crackers ground to fine crumbs (I use panko breadcrumbs)
1 potato, cut into wedges and deep-fried
1 onion, sliced
1 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup chicken stock or more if you like lots of gravy
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp corn flour
2 tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup frozen peas

1. Marinate the pork chops in light soy sauce, oyster sauce, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, salt and ground pepper.
2. Heat up oil in a frying pan/wok. Place the beaten eggs in a saucer and the cream cracker/panko crumbs in another saucer.
3. Dip the pork chops in the beaten egg and then coat with the cracker/panko crumbs.
4. Fry the pork chops in the pan/wok until they are golden brown. Remove and keep aside. Leave a little oil in the pan/wok.
5. Saute the sliced onions just a little bit.
6. Add the tomato ketchup, dark soy, pepper, worcestershire sauce and chicken stock. Bring to a boil.
7. Add the tomato wedges and green peas.
8. In a small bowl make a paste with corn flour and a little water. Add to the sauce, let it bubble and thicken.
Just pour the hot sauce over the pork chops and serve it with the deep-fried potatoes. Serve with bread or rice. This is really an awesome dish, you should try it!


  1. That sounds so good!!!

    Does it ever make you sad to think back to what your life used to be like? It's sad/happy. Sad because it's no longer the same. Happy because your life has new people that you love.

    I feel this way when I think about my Grandma that has Alzheimer's disease. I wish my kids could of known who she really was! Instead they probably view her as the cooky lady who likes to wash paper plates. I miss her cooking. She was such a great gardener! Whenever we play games I think of her. She used to play all kinds of games with us when we were kids.

  2.!!!! This dish looks delicious!!! Anything coated in panko gets the children's marks of approval in this house. The sauce looks amazing.... with the tomatoes being my favorite part. If you learned this from Jin's mom -- thank you Jin's mom for feeding V so she can share the recipe with us today. ;)

  3. You are making me hungry with your pork chop dish. Yum!!

    What a beautiful blog you have. I am a new follower.

  4. Wow! You just made me drool all over my keyboard!! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Isn't it funny how certain smells, tastes, sounds can take you back to being little again? I love that you liked Karen Carpenter. Just think--I was listening to her too, all the way across the world from you. :)

  6. I'm dreaming of travelling to Malaysia...for all that yummy food (and friendly people)...Love the photos!

  7. It is really sad that they have torn down so much history.

    Your pork chops look very tasty

  8. yum, looking good! New follower from the blog hop.

  9. I lived in such a house where business was on the ground floor. Yes, the staircase was wooden too:)Those were the days. Thanks for the recipe.Perhaps I should go to the Coliseum and try their pork chops. Hear they make it real good.

  10. Thank you for taking me to your childhood and sharing a great memory. You also taught me some great fun facts. The pork chops look amazing and are something I would love to try:) I am pinning these to try later. Thank you for sharing at Freedom Fridays.

  11. What a fascinating history! Thank you for teaching me about a part of the world I have never visited. That dish does look amazing! Yum ;)

  12. Yum. Hi, I enjoyed this post you linked in to Claire Justine. I have linked in a post about some rhubarb and banana jam I just made. Have a super week.

  13. Wow! I'm drooling and as there isn't a single coconut-drilling part involved, I just might try this recipe!
    Have a great weekend, Veronica.

  14. I really appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thx again

  15. Thank you for this piece. I enjoyed the history and the photos and the dish itself looks delicious. I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

  16. What lovely memories! I enjoyed learning more about Shophouses. Your Hainanese Pork Chops sound delicious - I love the wonderful flavours in them. No wonder you have such fond memories of this dish!