My dialect group is Chawan aka Zhao An (诏安），the town next to Chaozhou (潮州）and Shantou (汕头）。 While I have been sharing recipes for many dialect groups such as Teochew, Hakka and Cantonese , but it will be an injustice to my blog if I do not blog my dialect’s cuisines. I may not know all of them, but I will try to capture as many recipes as possible. Chawan cuisines is basically influenced by the Teochew, Hokkien and Hakka cuisines. Due to the much smaller population of this dialect group, its cuisines are not as well known as the other 3 dialects. Whether or not there are readers who tried the recipe is pretty much irrelevant to me.. It is blogging for records.
If you are a Chawan, you may or may not heard of the “cat porridge aka 猫仔糜”. This porridge is not common in Singapore and Malaysia, but if you Google Chawan cuisines (诏安美食）, this porridge will surely come out on the top of the listing. It is a type of seafood and meat porridge commonly sold in the Zhaoan city and apparently, it is a street food that appeared in many Chawan website. But traditionally, this is also the ending dish for a typical Chawan feast.
I am equally new to this porridge too but I can imagine the taste. It is an elaborate, no rule porridge that I believed that readers regardless of the dialect group will like the porridge and I wanted to try preparing it. Before i prepared, I am certain that my family will like this because it is so similar to the no rule porridge that we used to prepare at home. I get the recipe from one of the member in my Chawan Facebook Group. I have to thank Mr. 诏安 for sharing his recipe with the members.
The name of this porridge is rather strange and literally translated as “cat porridge”. Of course there are stories associated with the name. Once there was a chef in Zhaoan who was helping his superior to prepare a wedding feast. After the preparation, he suddenly remembered that her wife who was on confinement at home has not eaten any meals. He immediately put 1/2 bowl of coked rice into a pot, add some meat stock, gather some prawns ,meat, mushrooms onto the pot with the hope of bringing the porridge back for his wife. Suddenly, his employer entered the kitchen and asked what he was cooking. The chef do not how to answer and when he saw a cat sitting next to the stove, he said he was preparing some porridge for the cat. The superior is rather doubtful and took a spoon of the porridge and tasted. He felt that the porridge for the cat was delicious and he instructed the chef to cook another big pot for the guests. Since then, the porridge had became well known and usually served at the end of the feast.
閩南地區有位大財主為兒子辦理婚筵，重金聘請一位烹飪名廚來掌勺。忙了一整天，菜也都上桌了，廚師才想起家中正在坐月子的老婆尚未吃飯，趕緊的、偷偷的盛了半碗米飯倒進鍋裏，舀入一些鮮湯燒沸，匆匆的抓起灶台上的鮮蝦、魚片、肉片、香菇等丟入鍋，飛快的為老婆煮了一碗熱粥，正準備端回家時。 豈料，大財主走進廚房，問道：「師傅做啥好吃的﹖」廚師看見灶邊躺著一隻貓，就急中生智的說：「這是做給貓仔吃的粥。」大財主狐疑的看了一下碗內，香噴噴的、熱騰騰的粥，忍不住的嚐了一口：「哇，這貓仔粥太鮮美爽口了！你就煮給我的客人一人一碗。」廚師央人將熱粥帶去給老婆吃後，依樣畫葫蘆的快煮一大鍋熱粥，香噴噴的、熱騰騰的端上桌，客人食用後均稱讚不已。這道好粥品就被意外的創製出來，也以「貓仔粥」的名字流傳開來，大街小巷的店鋪也有現煮現賣「貓仔粥」。從此閩南地區有些主人也會在喜宴的最後一道菜，給賓客上碗貓仔粥，以示吃完了全席。”Source: http://www.epochtimes.com/b5/14/6/16/n4179609.htm)
If you are interested to hear the story in Chawan dialect, you can refer to here: 「詔安貓仔糜的故事」(閩南語正字促進會) – YouTube. But this version is slightly different, there was a boy who was not well to do was called to assist in a wedding reception. He stole some meat, prawns, fish and squid wanted to bring back to his house and cooked a meal for his mother. When the rich man saw this, he asked why he carry all these ingredients and the boy said he wanted to feed the cat. When he reached home, he put everything in a pot and cooked some delicious porridge for his ailing mother.
This is a recipe to be prepared on per serving basis. In Chawan road side stores, when customers come and place the order, they will cook the relevant portion in a small pot. It is relatively fast as the cooking time for all these items are very fast. Unlike congee, this porridge is cooked using cooked/steamed rice and drop into tasty soup. It is almost similar to pao fan (泡饭）that Teochew liked. Of course you can also prepare using overnight rice. The recipe is fast, easy and tasty if you have meat broth at home. I am rather certain that most readers will like this simple recipe. It is not actually a poor man dish as the ingredients are quite luxurious.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Recipe adapted from: 閩南詔安風味小吃 : 【美食典故】貓仔粥的由來
Servings: 4-6 adults
- 200 grams of pork fillet, sliced thinly
- 200 grams of prawns, shelled
- 200 grams of fish fillet meat, cut into big pieces
- 2 medium sized squids, cleaned and sliced thinly with
- 3 shitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced thinly
- 3 sprigs of coriander
- 2 tablespoons of shallot oil
- Pinches of salt
- Dashes of white pepper
- 3 teaspoons of sesame oil
Other ingredients that can be considered are: chicken meat, oysters, cured cuttlefish, frogs and etc..
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Preparation of meat broth. This step is optional if you already have meat broth at home. It can be any type of meat broth such as chicken broth . In this illustration, I have used prawn shells and fish bones to boil the broth for 30 minutes, sift and set aside. You can use chicken bones, chicken feet, pork ribs etc. to prepare the broth.
- For the meat slices, fish slices and prawns, add one tablespoon of corn starch, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, pinches of salt and stir until well combined. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
- In a small pot, put about 3-4 cups of meat broth and some sliced mushrooms. Bring to boil. Add about 1 cup of cooked rice, followed by some (a few pieces of) prawns, squid, fish meat and meat slices. Once it boils, add salt to taste and off the heat. Transfer to individual serving bowl, sprinkle with some chopped coriander or spring onions, shallot oil and dashes of white pepper before serving. Best eaten immediately after preparation.
- Note that the cooking time is relatively short. The seafood and the meat requires only cooking for 1-2 minutes. For optimal cooking time, you should follow the following cooking order: Meat slices, prawns, fish slices and lastly squid. Overcooked meat and seafood will become tough and texture will be compromised.
Though this is a common street food in Zhaoan City, however, it is really a delicious and nutritious food. The ingredients used are actually for the well to do families and it is definitely not prepare for the cats. Preparation is easy and you have lot of choice of ingredients. This is a no rule dish and you can even add chicken or oyster to the porridge. The broth can be prepared from chicken bones, fish bones or even pork ribs..I am sure most of the readers will be able to accept this rather luxurious porridge.
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