I have this neighbour who's always plying me with food. She's an elderly lady who lives with her husband and unmarried daughter. Almost every week without fail, she will pass me bags of food - veggies, fish, meats, eggs, condiments, dried goods, whatever. Once, bless her soul, she gave me twelve bottles of Maggi tomato and chilli sauces! Twelve!
See, she has another daughter, who is married. This daughter comes by every weekend with a cart full of groceries ... and I mean a cart FULL. On a few occasions, I happened to be at the lobby of my apartment when the delivery was taking place. I would see packs of fish and meats, tins of canned food, packets of noodles, rice, drinks, a full carton of eggs (I'm talking 30 here), sauces, what-have-you. And those were for ONE week's supply. Repeat this every week and you probably get an idea of how much food this old lady has to try and finish!
I guess this is her daughter's way of saying "I love you"?
Anyhow, I'm not complaining! It's like having an extra Granny to feed me silly ;P In turn, I reciprocate by giving her some of the dishes I've cooked with the food she gives. Such is the 'kampung spirit', no?
Today, she gave me a small packet of minced pork, among other things. I was mulling over what to make with it - there was way too little to make Ngoh Hiang with, and way too much to steam with eggs. Then I suddenly remembered something I haven't cooked for a while. Golden Tau Pok Puffs! Well, that's what I call them anyway.
The pork was just a tad too little, so I went down to the wet market and bought a very small portion of fish paste to mix in (ratio of 2 parts pork:1 part fish). Not all fishmongers sell them. Those who do, though, will unmistakably display a huge wooden bucket in which they work their fish into a paste. Often times, they would be using 'Sai Tor' or Yellow tail. Today, I got the Sai Tor paste.
The fish paste actually lends a 'bounciness' to the Tau Pok Puffs. If you prefer using all pork, it is perfectly fine too (especially if you want the Puffs to be juicier). I have tried both versions and they are equally good.
Tau Pok Puffs are wonderful at any time of the day, especially when you're feeling peckish. They are crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and savoury enough to eat on their own. Today, I was feeling like a lotta chilli, so I devoured mine with a spicy dip. Gone in 60 seconds ... well, almost!
Tau Pok Puffs
(makes about 10-12 pieces)
- Approximately 200g minced pork (or use 300g pork if you don't want to mix with fish)
- Approximately 100g fish paste
- 10 to 12 pieces Tau Pok (the small square type)
- 3 to 5 water chestnuts, chopped roughly
- Garlic, minced finely
- Spring onions, chopped finely
- A small dash of fish sauce (cos my fish paste was already salted)
- A dash of white pepper
- A dash of sesame oil
- A dash of Hua Tiao wine
- Some beaten egg, which acts as a binder. Just add in a little by little until you get the sticky consistency you want. You don't have to finish adding the entire egg.
* I had some soaked chinese mushroom slices next to me (for braising another dish), so I added in a few slices just because.
1. In a big bowl, combine all your ingredients except the egg and tau pok.
2. Mix till well-combined.
3. Add in your beaten egg a little at a time. Stop adding when the ingredients gel together.
4. Take a tau pok and make a small incision at the side (any side). Gently turn the tau pok inside out (see photo above, click to enlarge). Be very gentle.
5. Stuff the tau pok with the filling. Using a small, long-handle spoon helps. Pack to the brim.
6. In a skillet, heat up some oil. Fry the Tau Pok Puffs till they turn golden brown.
7. Garnish and serve.
As the Tau Pok Puffs are all so petite in size, they cook through very quickly. The outer skin (which was originally the insides of the tau pok) crisp beautifully on their own without any need to dredge in flour or deepfry in oil. The best part about biting into that juicy centre are the delightful bits of crunchy water chestnuts!