A dish to remember grandma

A dish to remember grandma
Braised pork belly is a dish that Ms Jacelyn Tan’s grandmother used to cook for the family every year for the reunion dinner.

Civil servant Jacelyn Tan's braised pork belly is a family heirloom recipe.

During a trip to her late Teochew grandmother's hometown in Shantou, China, three years ago, she did not expect to find her cousin cooking one of her childhood dishes.

She says: "I was surprised that such a dish is served in my grandmother's village too. Eating the dish and looking around her home gave me an idea of how she lived before she came to Singapore in 1957."

Her cousin's version of braised pork belly was cooked with bamboo shoots and pig liver sausages. The pork was tender, as they were from pigs reared in the village farm.

That dish was one of five that her grandmother cooked for reunion dinners. The others were roast pork, braised duck, sea cucumber soup and braised mustard greens with mushrooms. She died six years ago at the age of 82.

These days, Ms Tan, 28, continues the tradition by helping her father cook braised pork belly for reunion dinner.

She says: "It is good that this family recipe can be passed from one generation to the next, so that it does not get lost.

"Cooking this dish every Chinese New Year is a way of remembering my grandmother, whom I loved dearly."

She started cooking the pork belly five years ago, based on her memory of chatting and observing her grandmother when she cooked the dish. She also picked up cooking tips from her father, who was taught the recipe.

"It was not my grandmother's style to reveal the complete recipe, but I regretted not recording the recipe from her," she says.

Her family's reunion dinner also consists of chilli crab and broccoli topped with abalone, crab roe and scallops.

They have leftover braised pork belly for meals over the following two days. Ms Tan usually adds tau pok (beancurd puff) and tau kwa (firm beancurd) in addition to the pork.

Her secret to making a good braised pork belly? Fry the pork belly and use the reserved oil to saute the other ingredients and condiments, instead of blanching the meat in hot water.

Ms Tan, who is married to marketing executive Ng Kok Weng, 31, hopes to also pass this recipe to her children, when she has them.

She says: "Through this, they can remember my grandmother, who was a great cook."


This article was first published on Feb 15, 2015.
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