Elana Garces's Steamed Pork Loaf: Hearty Food for Cold Weather

If the cold weather has you Jonesing for some hearty food, try this pork loaf recipe by Elana Garces. It is one of the handful of South Florida dishes included in Molly O'Neill's One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking, which I wrote about yesterday.

In the book, Garces tells O'Neill of her great-grandfather who moved from China to Cuba in 1930 and later to Miami. He hated meatloaf, but one Thanksgiving he prepared a pork loaf recipe he found in a Chinese American cookbook. It must have been good because the recipe was passed down to Garces's mother and to Garces. And now it's in a cookbook.

Elana Garces's Steamed Pork Loaf
Miami, Florida

2 duck or large chicken eggs
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1⁄2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 pound ground pork
1 pound fresh water chestnuts, scrubbed and
peeled, or two 8-ounce cans, rinsed and
drained, coarsely chopped
4 scallions, green and white parts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon Chinese red chili oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, plus more for
the pan
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 tablespoons fermented black beans
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1. The day before serving, place the eggs in a small pot and cover with cold water by ½ inch. Add 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and the vinegar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cool the eggs in the soy water completely, and refrigerate overnight.

2. Peel and halve the eggs, discard the whites, and chop the yolks.

3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce with the pork, water
chestnuts, scallions, cilantro, rice wine, salt, chili oil, sesame oil, and sugar. Use your hands to combine well. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and sherry, add to the meat, and combine well.

4. Place half the meat on a large sheet of plastic wrap and shape into an 11 x 5-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the egg yolks down the center of the meat. Place the black beans in a column along either side of the egg, then sprinkle the sesame seeds over the meat.

5. Cover with the remaining meat mixture and press gently to seal the edges, then wrap tightly in the plastic wrap, put on a heatproof plate that will fit into a steamer, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

6. If you have a steamer, pour 1 quart of water in the bottom of it and arrange the rack. Or make a steamer by placing a rack or heatproof plate in the bottom of a large pot with a tight-fitting cover. Add enough water to almost reach the bottom of the rack and bring to a boil. Carefully add the meatloaf, cover the pot, and steam over high heat for 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150°F.

7. Transfer the meatloaf to a carving board and let cool. Remove the plastic wrap and slice the pork loaf. Serve.

Serves 6 to 8

From ONE BIG TABLE by Molly O'Neill. Copyright © 2010 by Molly O'Neill. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY.

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