One of my fondest childhood memories is visiting Grandma’s house on Sundays only to catch her and some of my aunties making pork floss. They would be making it in a huge cast iron wok with at least two pairs of hands stirring the shredded pork to avoid burning and making sure it would dry evenly. The big batch would be packed in containers for the children to bring home. The children and grandchildren are pretty much scattered everywhere now, but the favourite dish is still strongly present in our heart. Not until recently I have been reminded that we can do this. I have always stocked up on Lim Chee Guan’s pork floss when we travel to Singapore, but since it has been a while and the last time we were there, we couldn’t get to the store. I got the other brand at the airport and not too fond of it.
Pork floss is a great breakfast condiment when the kids need something quick for their rice breakfast. Yeah my children is the ultimate Asian kids. They have rice and soup before school. Mother strongly feels that the grandkids need a good filling meal of steamed rice and a couple of dishes (normally that would include fried eggs and leftover soup from the day before). If none of those available, they would have rice, egg and pork floss.
The first time we make it, it was nothing less than self torture. A big exaggerating, but it is. We did it late in the morning, and since then I decided that if I am to do this regularly, I will do it in the evening. Our kitchen is basically outdoor kitchen, so during noon, the sun would be straight on top and the idea of stirring a batch of meat to dry under scorching sun is absolutely crazy.
The second time (and more times after), the meat was prepared in the morning. When I came home from work, we stir fry for a couple of hours, the kitchen is nice and cool.
There are two variations of the recipe, but I will only share the simplest one.
To make good quality pork floss, very lean meat is needed. We got the butcher to clean off all fats. Only four ingredients are used. Lean pork, soy sauce, white peppercorn and sugar. Garlic is optional – the first time we used garlic, but the taste was a bit overwhelming. We choose to leave that out in the future.
Peppercorn can be lightly crushed or used whole. The first time I crushed them too hard, we ended up picking them up to avoid the floss being too spicy or peppery.
First thing is to prep the pork. Sprinkle generous amount of salt on pork. Let sit for 5 minutes before rinsing off.
Use lots of cold water to properly clean the pork.
Choose the heaviest pot you got. Make sure the whole thing fit.
Add meat, pepper and garlic (if using).
Add water and soy sauce. Start cooking over low heat for 1,5-2 hours. Stir once every 15 minutes or so, to flip the meat to ensure even cooking and marinade.
Halfway through cooking, the meat will give up a lot of juices, and then later when simmering, the juices will become thick and it will just be cooking in its own juices.
At the end of the cooking time, the pork will be thoroughly cook and very, very tender. Reserve the liquid for cooking or whatever.
Remove the garlic and peppercorns as much as you can. This is why I should not break those peppers. This batch was quite spicy.
Using pestle, pound away the meat to get thin shred of meat.
Shred the meat into thin strips. If you pound harder, it would be much easier and quicker to shred. This is quite tedious – the more hands you have the merrier.
Use the heaviest and the biggest wok you have. Add shredded pork and sugar. Start cooking over very low heat.
Keep doing it for the next 2 hours. If you have that extra pair of hands, this is the best time to use it. Keep stirring, for if you miss even 10 seconds, the bottom part will start burning and you will end up with uneven color floss. Use the fork, lift, turn and push method. Use the flat part of spatula to press the floss to the wok. Continuous lift and turn and flatten movement will result in cottony-textured floss.
Nearing the end, the floss will feel much lighter and the color will brown nicely evenly.
This is it! The end of the two hours, nicely dried and golden color. I left some parts a bit thick, hence you can see the thicker part dried up to be a bit hard. But still perfect to munch on.
This will keep nicely for a long time, but ours never pass two weeks. It would be gone much faster if we didn’t hide it from prying hands, big and tiny. Serve with warm bowl of rice porridge or slice of white toast. Perfect!
- 1 kg lean pork meat
- 10 g whole white pepper
- 300 g soy sauce
- 300 g sugar
- 150 g water
- salt for rinsing meat
Rinse pork with salt and running cold water
Combine pork, white pepper, soy sauce and water in a heavy stockpot. Cook over low heat for 2 hours
Remove cooked meat, drain the liquid. Let cool to room temperature
Using pestle or meat pounder, pound on the meat to flatten it. Shred to small thin floss.
Cook the floss in big and thick wok. Add sugar. Cook and stir over very low heat for 2 hours. Use the back of spatula to press the floss to the bottom of the wok to get it dry quicker and to make it lighter.
When the color is nicely golden, it is ready. Remove and let cool. Store in airtight container.