Hed Chef: Cai fan
Simple and complete fare
It's simple, hearty and a complete one-dish meal on its own.
Cai fan, which means vegetable rice in Mandarin, is a dish that Madam Sally Koh cooks often.
It is a back-to-basics comfort food for the 53-year-old cashier who learnt to cook the dish from her mother.
She says in Mandarin: "It reminds me of my childhood growing up in the kampung. I used to watch my mother prepare the dish and I learnt to cook it when I was nine years old. She cooked it very often and I learnt by watching.
"It is inexpensive and the ingredients are very ordinary. It is convenient to cook. There is no one fixed set of ingredients. It really depends on what you like and what is available."
Madam Koh sometimes uses pork belly or chicken breast meat.
In my version of cai fan, I use pork shoulder meat which is neither overly lean nor fatty.
This is a dish perfect for those who want a home-cooked meal that is nutritious, easy to cook and economical.
- 3 cups of rice
- 200g pork shoulder, sliced
- 1 small brinjal, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small carrot, shredded
- 3 stalks of long bean, cut into 3.5cm lengths
- 2 cabbage leaves, sliced
- 4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 50g dried shrimp
- 50g dried baby scallops
- 2.5 rice cups of water
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- Cooking oil
For meat marinade:
- 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp corn flour
- Fried shallots
1. Soak dried shrimp and baby scallops until softened. Set aside.
2. Marinate the pork with Chinese rice wine, sesame oil and corn flour for 30 minutes.
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of cooking oil and fry half of the garlic until fragrant.
4. Add the dried shrimp and baby scallops.
5. Fry for a minute.
6. Add the rice and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Add the sesame oil. (A)
8. Transfer the rice into the rice cooker.
9. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a clean pan.
10. Add remaining garlic and fry until fragrant. 11. Add the pork slices and fry until almost opaque. (B)
12. Fry the cabbage, carrot, mushroom and brinjal for 2 to 3 minutes.
13. Season with 1 tablespoon oyster sauce.
14. Transfer mixture into rice cooker.
15. Add the water, salt and cook.
16. After 10 minutes, put the long beans into the rice cooker. (C)
17. Allow the rice to be cooked completely.