The Pou Chong affair: A Chinese Tea Party

On every winter homecoming to Kolkata I pay a visit to a decrepit restaurant called Tung Nam in the Tiretti Bazar area to devour their steamed pork wontons. Around the same area of Chatta Walla Gully, once dominated by Chinese traders, is Pou Chong Brothers, one of the oldest Chinese brands that trades in food, leather and jewelry for over 50 years. It stands as one of the oldest bastions of Chinese culture in Kolkata, while most of the others have faded away. Food loving gluttons like me have grown up on their Garlic Chilli Sauce and Soya Sauce, no Chinese meal was complete without them on the table.

So it piqued my curiosity when I heard chatter about their venture called Pouchong KIM, that deals with frozen food products on social media. I was dying to try them out. I run a catering service company in Mumbai called Hungry Cat Kitchen and when a bunch of happy foodies from The Calcutta Porkaddicts Bombay Chapter approached me to design a pork-themed home dining experience exclusively for them using Pou Chong products, I was game.

The frozen products were flown to me professionally packed and manoeuvring cargo was a breeze. Everything was partially or fully cooked and this is what I did with them.

Pork Siu Mai

These were meaty and compact. All I did was rehydrate them with water in a covered pan. I added a few drops of oil so they do not stick to the bottom. The best part about these Siu Mais was that the dumpling wrappers did not unravel and make a holy mess. I topped them with crunchy fried garlic and chopped scallions and made a side of ginger-soy dipping sauce to go with them.

Soy Egg & Bacon Salad

This had no Pou chong products in it but I decided to go with a salad because I believe you need a bit of crunch in every menu. So I went with the Chinese theme and made some soy eggs first. These are really easy to make: just make a solution of soy sauce, salt, sugar and dunk deshelled soft boiled eggs. Refrigerate overnight. My salad had rocket, cherry tomatoes, soy eggs, onions, streaky bacon and a celery-lemon dressing.

Soy egg and bacon salad


BBQ Pork Sliders

The BBQ pork was of extremely good quality, so I decided not to complicate matters. I piled slices of these into mini slider buns and topped them with a coleslaw that I made using homemade mayo, purple cabbage, pineapple and a dash of mustard for heat.

BBQ pork slider


Pork Meatball Bun Cha

I gently sauteed the frozen pork meatballs in a pan and simmered them in some chicken broth. Then I made individual bowls of Vietnamese Bun Cha with torn lolo rosso, rice vermicelli, carrot ribbons, sprouts, coriander and mint. These were topped with the meatballs and some broth, and served with two dipping sauces: one sweet and the other sour.

Pork meatball bun cha


Pork Belly

The hoisin sauce based pork belly stew was extremely flavorful, just the right balance of sweet, hot (from bird’s eye chillies) and fragrant. So I decided to serve it as it came. To accompany it I served rice, pickled cucumbers and braised bok choy with cashews and sesame. For dessert I baked Orange Almond cupcakes which I filled with ginger-orange marmalade.

Pork belly stew


Finally I served a special tea for my pork loving guests… a special blend of smoked black tea that I jokingly refer to as “liquid bacon” but judging by the smiles around me, seems to have been quite the show stopper.

The complete menu with smoked black tea


[Cover picture: Pork siu mai; all pictures courtesy Richeek Dey]

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