p Picks and Pecks: recipe: hou si

Saturday, June 22, 2013

recipe: hou si

Just when I thought that I was well aware of the Chinese New Year menu - I learned about a new dish this year. And as luck would have it, I heard about it from multiple sources so I was able to take the best of what I heard and combined it.

It was a bit hard finding a recipe for this, but I think this dish is quite simply called hou si, which is just the name of the dried oysters in the center of this dish but in reality it is so much more. The ingredients themselves are quite basic - the quantities listed below make about 60 hou si by my count, and they freeze well and can be refried or heated up before serving.

Ingredients A:

  • 500g ground pork
  • 20 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked to soften (~ 2 1//2 cups)
  • 1 carrot, diced (1 3/4 cups)
  • 5 stalks spring onion, sliced thinly
  • 40 water chestnuts, peeled and diced (~ 3 cups)
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt

Ingredients B:

  • self-raising flour, sifted (for dusting)
  • 60 dried oysters (~ 2 cups)
  • caul fat - usually sold at butcher shops at wet markets

The most unusual thing in this recipe is the caul fat - which is sold in a bundle that looks like a wet t-shirt. You'll need to rinse out the caul fat, and pick out any bits of bone or flesh that are clinging to it. 

Combine everything in ingredients A together until evenly distributed - this is the stuffing of the hou si

Spread out a corner of the caul fat thinly so that it is completely flat. Put a tablespoonful of the stuffing on the caul fat...

... add a dried oyster...

... and cover with just under another tablespoon of stuffing. Cut out the fat so that there is a 1.5 inch border on the sides...

... and fold sides inwards to make a compact package - it needs to be tight, so the fat doesn't open when the stuffing expands during frying. 

Arrange the hou si in a neat pile. You'll need a flat wide space to flour the hou si before frying. 

Heat up some vegetable oil in a deep pan for frying - you will need at least 2 inches of oil.

While the oil is heating up, pour out some sifted flour and lightly toss each hou si so it is covered in a thin coating of flour. This helps absorb any moisture on the  surface of the hou si, which stops the oil from splattering.

Once the oil is hot enough, a wooden chopstick pressed against the bottom of the pan should cause bubbles to form. Gently drop each hou si into the oil, being careful to keep some space in between each hou si.

As the hou si fry, the oil will darken from the fried flour - this is normal. When the hou si is a golden brown, remove from the oil and let drain on a paper towel before serving. If freezing, let them cool completely before storing.