Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Heart U Cooking

Yu Sang Salad

Chinese New Year (CNY) = Valentine's Day = the W's Birthday = I Heart U Cooking!!

Year 2010, a year where the moon (CNY), sun (the heart of the universe) and the stars (my wife and shining star) align to form the perfect day. To celebrate, we planned to have CNY on New Year's Eve with the tribe and a combined birthday for the W and belated birthday for momma bear the following day. Stupid or not I put my hand up to make some dishes for CNY as well as cater for the b'days. Throw in a tight schedule, the general hustle and bustle of CNY, plus a busy inquisitive MiniB wanting to help with the cooking, and the challenge was set. It was either going to be the perfect day or the perfect storm.

The theme for the menu was a no brainer ... Asian dishes to go along with the CNY theme. I originally had other ideas in mind to merge the Valentines Day theme with CNY but on this occasion perfect timing was essential, so I kept it simple (which I seldom do). It was to be a simple Asian CNY themed lunch that came from the heart - that's the plan anyway!!

Having missed out on Billy's (A Table for Two) Momofuku Bo Ssam at the Food Bloggers Christmas Party, then drooling over his blog about it, the little black book in my head pencilled in "Must try Pork!!". The recipe seemed simple enough with only 3 ingredients: Pork, sugar and salt (seriously that's all that's in it!!) but the 5-6hr roasting time was a bit daunting on my tight schedule. I decided to do a large chunk of the roasting the day before and finish it off with a couple more hours on the day.

4kg of meaty goodness!!

The W had an interesting time picking up the pork. A pork forequarter (or Boston butt) is what the recipe ordered. The W had no idea what that was or what it looked like. She asked the butcher who kindly said he'd show her the cut. Out of the freezer room this head-shaven tattoo-covered burley butcher came out with half a pig (legs and all) on his shoulder and pointed to the front shoulder and thigh of the beast. He band-sawed the correct cut and whipped out his razor sharp katana, scoring the rind with ease. It was quite an experience for the W and as scary as it was for her she really appreciated his efforts. Lets give it up for our local butchers!!

4hrs of roasting, 1.5hrs to go.....

Five and half hours of roasting later, the 4kg beast was transformed into sweet porky bliss. The 1 inch layer of fat had melted away and the pork just fell of the bone with ease. The meat was very moist and flavoursome. I was suprised that the flavours penetrated the entire roast and that such simple ingredients would produce such a unique flavour. The rind had a glistening sugary glaze which was crispy on the top and chewy in the centre. I didn't serve the pork with all the sides following the recipe, but served them with pancakes used for Peking duck and lettuce leaves similar to Sang Choi Bau. Even though it took so long, and the intense heat cracked my roasting dish it was surely well worth the wait and sacrifice.

Bo Saam in all it's glory!!

I've never had Yu Sang before. It must be more of a Malaysian/Singapore dish, but after seeing this dish on other blogs it looked like such a fun dish with interesting flavours. My Yu Sang came with a twist. One, I wasn't exactly sure of the traditional ingredients and two, not all of our tribe eat sashimi. So I Aussie-fied the salad replacing the sashimi with smoked salmon, turning it into a Yu Sook maybe (Sang = raw, Sook = cooked).

Sprinkling of sesame seed and 5-spice powder

It was a wonderfully refreshing salad, with many textures and flavours. Crunchy, soft, smooth, spicy, salty, sweet, and zingy were all included in this salad to tantalize anyone's taste buds. Next time I may tone down the dressing a bit as I think I added a tad too much plum sauce.

Customary Yu Sang salad toss

These main dishes were accompanied with Red Thai Chili and lime chicken wings and Char Siu and Snow pea Hokkien noodle stir fry followed by Rocky Road Mouse Cake and petit fours. In customary style I have once again cooked too much!!

Red Thai Chili and Lime Chicken Wings & Rocky Road Mousse Cake by Zest Patisserie

Char Siu Stir Fry & Petit Fours by Zest Patisserie

All turned out as planned and it was a busy but very enjoyable weekend of celebrations. Now I can file this one away under the successful dishes, and post my two-headed subject title up with pride. I heart cooking, and a secret message for my wife - luv ya babe!!

Aussie-fied Yu Sook (alternate Yu Sang with smoked salmon)


  • 1/2 Chinese cabbage (Wonga Bok), finely chopped
  • 2 Carrots, finely grated
  • 1/2 bunch of enoki mushrooms
  • 8 slices of Japanese pickled daikon radish, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup Japanese pickled ginger
  • 300 grams Smoked salmon, finely sliced (traditionally raw sashimi salmon is used)
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • handful of bean shoots
  • 1 tspn roasted sesame seeds (packaged in red CNY envelope)
  • 1/2 tspn Asian 5-spice powder (packeaged in red CNY envelope)
  • 3/4 cup Plum sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup grape seed or mild flavoured oil
  • Dash of soy sauce
  • Roast sesame seeds in the oven for 5 minutes or until golden
  • Combine dressing ingredients and mix well, refrigerate
  • Finely slice Chinese cabbage, carrots, daikon radish, ginger and smoked salmon roughly all the same size and arrange on a plate (this salad is better served on a plate for ease of the communal "tossing" of the salad)
  • Add bean shoots and enoki mushrooms
  • Place 5 spice powder in one red envelope and sesame seeds in the other
  • Dress the salad and have the guests of honour sprinkle the ingredients from the red envelopes over the salad
  • Have all guest toss the salad with chopsticks

Till next time ... we eat!!



  1. Wow, wow, WOW! You've outdone yourself Shanks! The food looks fantastic, especially the plating of the Yu Sook (hehe!)Great stuff!

  2. As soon as I saw the tossing photo I knew exactly what that was! Love that salad. And what was the rocky road mousse cake like? It looks great! :)

  3. Yu Sook gave me a chuckle :D What a great spread of food. I was particularly drooling over the Momofuku Bo Ssam!

  4. The frangipani is so artistic! The food looks devine. Wag

  5. yu sook bwahaha awesome! and the bo ssam looks fantastic!

  6. Loved the action shot of the yu sook salad toss. Reminds me of Mr Miyagi trying to catch flies!

  7. Hi Yaya, thanks, getting better hey. Definitely do the Bo Ssam again...mmm!!

    Hi Lorraine, the cake was gorgeous, quite light but with lots of goodies on top. I saw them shape some of the chocolate on the cake using bubble wrap :)

    Hi foodwink, thanks, I'm still drooling over the Bo Ssam pork and would definitely make it again :D

    Hi Wag, thanks, they came from the tree you gave me ;)

    Hi Suze, thanks, Bo Ssam and yu sook go together awesomely :P

    Hi Lobo, instead of "wax-on, wax-off" we're doing the "mix-mix, toss-toss" Hiyaa!! :P